It took less than 12 minutes for Dillian Whyte to put Alexander Povetkin of Russia in his past. This time there were no mistakes as he outboxed, then outpunched the former WBA champion, putting his career back on track even if a world heavyweight title fight now appears again to be a long-term goal.
In Gibraltar, a tiny outcrop of Britain on the Mediterranean Sea, Whyte showed that history can be rewritten. Last summer, in Eddie Hearn’s back garden, Povetkin had got off the floor twice to knock Whyte out cold. This time, Whyte showed a more patient approach, but when his opportunity came to finish things, he took it.
“I’m just sad I didn’t get it finished in the first round,” Whyte said. “I shouldn’t have lost the first time. I was annoyed at myself. I made a silly mistake and paid for it.
“From the first round I was on to him. I was tempted to go hell for leather in the first round but then thought it wasn’t a smart thing to do. He is very strong still.
“I still believe I can be world champion. I carry the power that can beat anyone.”
Straight rematches tend not to work out. The instinct to right a wrong always burns in any beaten fighters. But rushing back into a risky return, when emotions are still running high, is fraught with danger.
What impressed with Whyte, though, was his ability to shrug off what had happened. He didn’t rush for excuses, he did over-dramatize the loss, he simply put it down to a mistake.
There were early signs, though, that the Russian’s punch resistance was on the wane.
The fight was only 40 seconds old when Whyte seemed to land a body shot that had Povetkin on rubbery legs. He looked to take advantage, charging after him and throwing huge bombs as Povetkin stumbled around.
The Russian found some poise, though, and seemed to take a left hook and a solid right quite well. As Povetkin walked forward throwing a right, Whyte stepped back and landed a right of his own as the Russian had a hard start.
Whyte was looking light on his feet, as he kept his distance and jabbed well, forcing Povetkin to lunge in as he tried to land, while he tried to find the target with his own right.
Povetkin began to get more aggressive in the third, but he paid for it, as while throwing a right he was beaten to the punch by a vicious right by Whyte that made the Russian shudder to his boots. Whyte, though, was determined to stay at range, forcing the older man to take risks coming in as Whyte landed another big right and a left hook just before the bell.
The Londoner threw away all caution at the start of the fourth round, though, as he landed a big right that staggered Povetkin and charged after him. Whyte whaled away with punches, while Povetkin tried to land bombs in return. But Whyte couldn’t land another big punch and he switched back to using his jab.
With 40 seconds left in the round, Whyte landed another right and Povetkin stumbled into the ropes, this time he didn’t rush in and caught him with another right and then a big left hook that sent the Russian crashing into the ropes and to the floor. He beat the count, but looked unsteady, referee Victor Loughlin making the decision to stop the fight just as the towel came in from the Russian’s corner.
As Whyte complained to Hearn, his promoter, that there were no diamonds in his new WBC belt, Hearn attempted to put some gloss on the fact that the agreement for two fights between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury means that Whyte is incredibly unlikely to get his long-awaited world title shot this year.
Whyte said that he deserved an easy fight next, suggesting he returns to Gibraltar for a fight outdoors where there could be a bigger crowd than the 500 that were present at the Europa Sports Village. Hearn suggested a big fight n the United States might be an option.
“I would like to see him box quickly in the summer, because we know there is a log jam,” Hearn said. “The ultimate aim has always been for Dillian Whyte to challenge for the world heavyweight title. Everyone knows he is a handful for anyone in the heavyweight division.
“Tonight was about getting his career back on track. He manhandled Alexander Povetkin, he battered him from pillar to post. We are back where we wanted to be.”