Dillian Whyte didn’t underestimate Alexander Povetkin.
Whyte insists he took Povetkin seriously prior to their fight five months ago. He realized that Povetkin’s power would be the last thing to go, which made the Russian underdog, then 39 years old, a legitimate threat entering their 12-round fight August 22 for Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title.
Whyte attributes his stunning, fifth-round knockout defeat to Povetkin to a brief lapse in focus – nothing more, nothing less. The London-based heavyweight contender discussed that devastating defeat during a recent appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams Monday through Friday on DAZN and SiriusXM.
“That would never happen,” Whyte replied when asked if he overlooked Povetkin, who is scheduled to fight Whyte again March 6. “You know, I’m not that kind of guy. I look at Povetkin – former world champion, former amateur world champion, former Olympic champion, you know, great fighter. Has only lost two fights in his whole career [to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua]. He is somebody who ain’t lost a fight in many years, you know. From amateur to pro, beat everyone. If you look at his amateur record all the way through, he’s beaten everyone.
“We know how tough he is, we know how good he is, we know how skillful he is, obviously. Some people will say, ‘Oh, yeah, he was this age, he was that age.’ But the last thing to go is someone’s punch, as we saw in the fight. You know, so I never overlooked him. The whole time I stayed grounded. I was like, ‘Listen, none of those fights don’t mean nothing unless I get past this guy, you know?’ ”
Whyte knocked Povetkin to the canvas twice during the fourth round and appeared well on his way toward a knockout victory. Povetkin recovered enough between the fourth and fifth rounds to uncork a quick left uppercut that knocked Whyte unconscious and abruptly ended their scheduled 12-round fight 30 seconds into the fifth round in a main event at Matchroom Boxing’s headquarters in Brentwood, England.
Their rematch March 6 will headline a Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view event from a venue to be announced.
The 32-year-old Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs) hopes avenging his loss to Povetkin (36-2-1, 25 KOs) can move him back into position to fight for the WBC championship. He fought Povetkin because he couldn’t secure a WBC title shot, despite that he was the WBC’s mandatory challenger for nearly three years.
“It’s just a shame I was put in that position,” Whyte said, “where I had to keep taking world title-worthy fights without the world title on the line for the best part of three years. It’s crazy. But, you know, I never overlook anyone I fight, man. I bring the same mindset and the same energy to every fight. But it was strange times. A lot of things was going on or whatever.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.