Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Whyte-Povetkin and Taylor-Persoon 2 on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office
Last Updated: 21/08/20 5:06pm
Dillian Whyte was far lighter on the scales and perhaps much of that was the burden that is no longer on his shoulders.
He defeated his demons at Friday’s weigh-in, the required evidence that Whyte is at his strongest-ever in body and mind before rolling the dice against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
He has been visibly more muscular all week but a weigh-in result of 18st 6oz was nearly 19lbs (nearly a stone-and-a-half) less than for his previous fight, when a very different version of Whyte turned up.
He was at a career-heaviest last December in Saudi Arabia, overweight by his own admission and dragged down by a UK Anti-Doping case, which cleared him of any wrongdoing, just 24 hours before he slugged out a win over Mariusz Wach.
“Everything is different,” a rejuvenated Whyte told Sky Sports News on Friday. “Saudi Arabia was a short-notice fight. I fought because I had to fight, to keep myself mentally and physically intact.
“I was in a dark place and on the verge of walking away from boxing.
“So I took that fight to keep me motivated and keep me in the game, really.”
Whyte’s previous weigh-in results
Whyte had piled on over a stone in weight in five months after being forced to cope with the distressing UKAD issue, just before a battling points win over Oscar Rivas last July.
“My last two fights have been hell,” he said in December. “I won them, but they were hell.”
Whyte’s strength and conditioning coach Ruben Tabares told Sky Sports: “He’s been very open about the fact that for his fight [last December], he’d been on Celebrity MasterChef.
“He said the hours of filming very long and he was cooking all day and he was picking and picking and picking.
“He ate a little bit too much more than he usually eats so he put on more weight than he would usually carry into the ring.”
In the eight months since the Wach win, he has lost a stone-and-a-half in weight (he targeted even more – but couldn’t get down to 17st 10lbs as he hoped) and has never appeared more focused at a time when the stakes have never been higher. One more victory and a WBC heavyweight title fight that has been over 1000 days in the making will be enforced by the governing body.
A five-month training camp in Portugal has paid dividends physically.
With a first world title shot nearly secured, Whyte has been relieved of the final burden that had weighed heavily on his imposing frame.
“I had two fights last year but my mind wasn’t right,” he said this week. “I put weight on. For my last fight I was nearly 20st. I got myself in shape slowly.
“I knew who I was fighting [in Povetkin], and what it would take. I got into shape.
“The story of my life is pressure. I’ve been under pressure my entire life. This is just another puzzle. There is more pressure because of the future, but that’s in the future.
“Life is full of ups and down. Back then I was on a down. Now I’m rising up again.”
There is a steely maturity to Whyte today, even if his hot-headed reputation resulted in private accommodation outside of the hotel shared by every other boxer to prevent any pre-fight incidents.
And even if he arrived at the weigh-in with his team decked out to mock the dress sense of the Russian visitors, who arrived at Fight Camp dressed in what Eddie Hearn called “rascal clobber”.
Whyte has spoken of his respect for Povetkin, and intense eye-contact at the final face-off replaced the gnashing of teeth and the butting of foreheads that welcomed previous opponents like Joseph Parker.
Russia’s Povetkin, for his part, was as consistent as ever at Friday’s weigh-in. He clocked in at 16st, five pounds lighter than last time out, and one pound heavier than when he fought Anthony Joshua. It is light for a heavyweight but it is how Povetkin has weighed throughout his career – he is a specialist at making a two stone weight discrepancy work in his favour.
His only two defeats came against Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, world champions who outweighed him but were crucially much taller and longer too. Whyte doesn’t fit that mould.
“We know what he does,” Whyte said. “He has been doing it consistently for 15 years. It is very hard to defeat that but I know what to do.”
Whyte has never been better prepared, in his mind or his body, to defeat his most experienced opponent to date.
“He’s in shape,” Whyte said. “I’m ready to rock, ready to go. I don’t care about what is going to happen after. I don’t care. I just want to fight. I’m ready for chaos, violence and destruction.”
Watch Whyte-Povetkin and Taylor-Persoon 2 on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 7pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.