It took most by surprise when Dillian Whyte announced this morning that he has amicably split from trainer Mark Tibbs, just over six weeks out from his crunch Heavyweight clash with Alexander Povetkin.
The pair have enjoyed a memorable and largely successful four year spell, as esteemed trainer Tibbs, the son of legendary coach Jimmy has guided Whyte to within touching distance of a World title shot and proved his credentials as one of the most talented trainers in the country.
Whyte explained that due to his training camp relocating to Portugal and Tibbs’ new gym opening in the UK, this made it logistically too complicated for their working relationship to continue, although Whyte thanked his former training team for their efforts, which has seen an eleven fight winning streak.
It’s been a topsy-turvy journey, however one that has resonated dearly with the public, with the 32-year-old transforming his persona from his previously adapted nickname, ’Villain’ when he was stopped by Anthony Joshua in a seven round war in 2016, to a consistent pay-per-view fighter, with Tibbs playing an imperative role in his progress.
The loss to bitter rival Joshua did more good than harm to Whyte. The Brixton man had got the better of his Finchley counterpart in the unpaid ranks, however Joshua’s considerably higher pedigree and experience appeared the difference, as he claimed the vacant British title and capital bragging rights.
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Just to let everyone know Mark Tibbs and I are no longer working together as boxer and trainer. I’m training in Portugal, Mark has a young family, and his own new gym in the UK. As it stands it just hasn’t worked out in the way we both hoped it would. Mark came into my team 4 years ago and has helped me turn into the world class fighter I am today. Mark is a great trainer and I will always be grateful to him and his dad for all they have done.
Whyte showed heart and courage in a brave defeat, but was missing a key element, despite having clear fundamentals.
Tibbs replaced trainer Jonathan Banks, as ‘The Body Snatcher,’ a nickname he took up as well after the loss, shook up his team and moved to Loughborough to ply his trade in the elite sports facilities at the University.
Here is a look at three of the most defining moments of their journey together:
Whyte had notched up six straight victories since linking up with Tibbs, including a frenetic, split decision win over staunch rival Dereck Chisora in a fight of the year contender in Manchester in 2016.
Whilst a unanimous points win over Robert Helenius in Cardiff in 2017, saw him gain a number one ranking with the WBC and their Silver title, to put him in line for a shot at then-champion, Deontay Wilder.
Whyte headlined his first televised show against former WBA champion Lucas Browne in March 2018, appearing on paper as one of his toughest tests to date.
However, the Londoner put in arguably a career-best performance, breaking down and stopping the Aussie with a showreel sixth round knockout, producing a devastating left hook, seemingly more refined and powerful than before.
After mooted bouts with Kubrat Pulev and Luis Ortiz failed to materialise, Whyte once again put his unbeaten record on the line against former WBO titlist Joseph Parker on his maiden, headline pay-per-view outing.
The New Zealander has just been relieved of his belt against Joshua in Cardiff four months prior, following two defences and the fight was a genuine 50-50 clash.
In a close, yet thrilling O2 dust-up, Whyte became the first man to knock down Parker, landing two knockdowns; the first one albeit mistakenly ruled despite a clash of heads, on route to a unanimous decision against a World class operator.
Parker proved his acclaimed reputation, pinning Whyte against the ropes and registering his own knockdown in a dramatic final round. However, Parker was unable to finish his foe with Whyte sticking to Tibbs’ game plan and using his enhancing experience to fend off the late onslaught, adding the WBO International strap to his collection.
With the wait for a World title shot lingering on and a proposed Wembley rematch with Joshua falling by the wayside, Whyte risked his number one position against Oscar Rivas with the WBC Interim title at stake and a guaranteed shot at Deontay Wilder.
Again, Tibbs masterminded the strategy to defeat the previously undefeated Colombian, as Whyte recovered from a heavy seventh round decking to dominate proceedings at the O2, keeping ‘Kaboom’ at bay with his piston-like jab and polished fundamentals, assuring his place in the elite of the division.
It was a mature and composed display against a strong contender, whose vast amateur pedigree saw him defeat former unified World champion Andy Ruiz Jr and former World title challenger Kubrat Pulev.
The victory was seemingly overshadowed by reports of an adverse UKAD finding, which Whyte was eventually cleared of in December, before his shutout win over Mariusz Wach in Saudi Arabia.
Tibbs stood firmly behind his man during this testing period, as Whyte was rightfully restored his position as the WBC Interim champion after being suspended by the governing body.
Their close bond outside of the ring has undoubtedly coincided with their in-ring success, yet it seems a shame that Tibbs won’t be in the corner to lead his former charge into battle, with a long-awaited World title showdown on the horizon, but Whyte won’t be short of offers.
The 41-year-old former Lightweight is also likely to be in high demand, as he moves into his new gym with an upcoming stable featuring Charlie Duffield, Harvey Horn and James Hawley, having also amicably split from British Cruiserweight champion Richard Riakporhe.
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Me & Mark Tibbs will no longer be working together. I want to say a massive thanks 🙏🏿 to Mark for everything he has done for me & I will never forget our triaIs & successes. Nevertheless I’m happy to say we’re still on great terms and the love & respect still apparent. 💙 @skysportsboxing
The race to find a new trainer for Whyte begins with his rescheduled clash with Povetkin set to take place on the final ‘Fight Camp’ series in the gardens of Matchroom HQ on August 22nd, with a victory setting up a shot at WBC champion Tyson Fury by February 2021.
It was comforting to see that after such a fruitful period, the pair appeared to have cut ties with their respect for each other in tact, which unfortunately is not always the case in trainer-fighter splits.