By Keith Idec
Dillian Whyte is coming to America.
Multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com that progressing negotiations soon will result in the hard-hitting British heavyweight signing a lucrative, multi-fight contract with promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
Whyte will make his Top Rank debut on an undetermined date. That fight likely will be streamed by ESPN+ from an unchosen venue in the United States.
Its deal with Whyte will be the second for a top-10 heavyweight in less than a month for Top Rank, which has an exclusive content partnership with ESPN. Top Rank announced the signing of another British heavyweight, Tyson Fury, on February 18.
The 30-year-old Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), the lineal heavyweight champion, is expected to make his Top Rank/ESPN debut either in June or July. His upcoming opponent hasn’t been chosen, either.
The 30-year-old Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) thought following his spectacular, one-punch, 11th-round knockout of rival Dereck Chisora in their rematch December 22 in London that he would challenge Anthony Joshua for the British superstar’s IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles. That fight could’ve taken place April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, the iconic English venue Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, had reserved for him for that date.
Whyte wanted that bout badly because the Jamaican-born, London-based contender is convinced he has improved enough since Joshua stopped him three years ago to win their rematch. Joshua beat Whyte by seventh-round technical knockout in December 2015 at O2 Arena in London.
Whyte is 9-0, including five knockouts, since Joshua beat him.
Once Whyte wouldn’t accept an offer from Hearn and Joshua that reportedly would’ve been worth at least $4 million for Whyte’s side, Hearn secured contracts for Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) to defend his titles against American Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
When Joshua and Hearn went in a different direction, Whyte went on a tour of the United States to shop his services. He had meetings with representatives from ESPN, Showtime and DAZN, with which Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing is partnered in the U.S.
Whyte initially was asking for more money than any of those potential partners were willing to pay. ESPN’s increase in Top Rank’s budget for 2019 and a directive from the network’s decision-makers to become more involved in the heavyweight division eventually led to common ground among Whyte’s management team and those negotiating on behalf of Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
An official announcement of Whyte’s deal with Top Rank and ESPN will be made once his contract is finalized.
The excitable Whyte has fought just once in the United States since he turned pro in May 2011.
He stopped Malcolm Tann in the third round of that fight, which was part of the Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo undercard in August 2017. Top Rank promoted that card at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.