David Haye noticed an old, tired Alexander Povetkin who looked “way past his prime” on August 22.
As faded as Povetkin appeared to him when the former WBA heavyweight champion encountered Dillian Whyte, Haye feels Whyte has made a mental mistake by convincing himself that Povetkin simply caught him with “a lucky punch” in the fifth round that night. Povetkin’s vicious left uppercut knocked Whyte unconscious and abruptly brought an end to a fight Whyte was winning easily at Matchroom Boxing’s headquarters in Brentwood, England.
Haye hopes Whyte has rectified the costly technical mistakes he made during training camp for their immediate rematch Saturday night in Gibraltar. Otherwise, Haye cautioned that Whyte could suffer the same frightening fate again in their second fight at Europa Point Sports Complex (Sky Sports Box Office; DAZN).
“It’s a very dangerous fight,” Haye, also a former WBA heavyweight champion, told Sky Sports. “And it’s a fight that I think Dillian doesn’t want to accept there was nothing other than a lucky punch. He thought, ‘I was winning the fight,’ which he was. ‘I had him knocked down twice in the fourth round, and I was winning the fifth round until I got hit with one shot and that was it. Anything can happen in boxing. It happens in the heavyweight division.’ I don’t think that’s the mindset you need to – you can’t just say you won because it was an anomaly. That left uppercut that he threw knocked out Carlos Takam in a very even fight, in a very close, toe-to-toe fight. It’s a shot that he throws regularly.
“You know, Dereck [Chisora] was telling me when he sparred with him, he was getting hit with that shot. So, it’s one of his shots. And to get hit with someone’s best shot isn’t really lucky, is it? The guy’s got a big shot. It’s like getting caught with Dillian Whyte’s left hook. You know it’s there. You can practice to go under it if you throw your right hook to the body, or not. You can stand up and get knocked out.”
London’s Whyte dropped Povetkin twice during the fourth round, in which Povetkin appeared well on his way to losing by knockout. The rejuvenated Russian blasted Whyte with a left uppercut that sent Whyte crashing to the canvas, beneath a bottom rope, early in the fifth round.
Referee Mark Lyson immediately called an end to their scheduled 12-round fight for Whyte’s WBC interim title.
Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs) promptly exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch with the 41-year-old Povetkin (36-2-1, 25 KOs).
“You need to realize [with] Povetkin, it wasn’t a lucky punch,” Haye said. “It was a well-practiced punch. It was a punch that he thought about. The fact that he’s an Olympic gold medalist, you don’t just pull out lucky punches. It was a shot that, in his mind, he wanted. He dipped down, showed him the left hook to the body, Dillian brought his arm down, and he threw a left uppercut and knocked him out. It was a perfectly timed, practiced punch, something that he’s done a million times. So, I don’t think it was luck. I just think Dillian did the wrong thing at the wrong time, and paid the price. And hopefully, he learns from that, to think, ‘OK, if he’s gonna go to the body, I need to bring my weight back or I need to practice to block the uppercut.’
“You know, he needs to re-evaluate what happened in that fight. Because if he just says, ‘It’s down to luck. Let me just carry on with it,’ then we’ve got a problem. If he re-evaluates everything and goes, ‘OK, was I getting hit in sparring with that shot? Was I practicing? Was I aware when he dips down, not to lean forward?’ I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not in his camp. I don’t know what he does. But I think he needs to really stop just thinking it was a lucky shot, and ‘Let me just do the same thing again.’ Because the same thing could happen twice if you’re not prepared for it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.