By Jake Donovan
As often as Dillian Whyte has complained about how long he continues to wait for his first career title shot, he still finds to bask in the glow of his pro career.
The Jamaica-born, England-based boxer once again proved his worth as a top-rated heavyweight contender following a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Oscar Rivas in their interim title fight Saturday evening at O2 Arena in London, England.
Whyte entered the fight as a modest betting favorite, a testament to how far he’s come along in the pro ranks. Rivas (26-1, 18KOs) entered the night on the heels of a 12th round stoppage win of Bryant Jennings this past January, the best win of his nine-year pro career following a lengthy amateur run including a win over current unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz and having represented Colombia in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“These guys had hundreds of amateur fights, I had seven,” noted Whyte (26-1, 18KOs), a former kickboxer who didn’t turn to boxing until age 20. “He’s beaten tough guys (amateur and pro). I’m still learning.”
Rivas certainly wasn’t without his success, flooring Whyte with a right hand in round nine and causing anxious moments particularly in the final round. It made the fight closer on the cards, but with Whyte keeping his head through the adversity and prevailing by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 116-111.
“I’m a professional, I remained composed. He wanted to go to war. He’s a great fighter, a tough man and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Whyte’s brief amateur career includes a win over Anthony Joshua, who gained revenge in the pro ranks with a 7th round knockout when both were unbeaten rising prospects going into their Dec. 2015 meet. The night marked Joshua’s last fight before fighting for a heavyweight title just four months later, knocking out Charles Martin in two rounds to ignite a three-year reign which ended with his upset knockout loss to Ruiz this past June.
While a rematch is being planned for that fight, Whyte still awaits his first title fight. He’s won 10 straight since the loss to Joshua, having bumped off former heavyweight titlist Joseph Parker along with a pair of wins over Dereck Chisora and handing David Allen, Lucas Browne and now Rivas the first loss of their respective careers.
Saturday’s win is supposed to guarantee the streaking contender a future shot at reigning unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. The agreement in place—as per a resolution from the World Boxing Council (WBC)—states that such a fight must take place by no later than May 2020.
Meanwhile, there remains more work to be done as Whyte continues to learn and earn.
“We want to fight again in November,” noted Whyte, who remains skeptical of a seeing a title fight before he sees a vacant belt being handed to him. “We’re going to talk to Eddie and see what we can make happen.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox