MIAMI—It goes without saying that Dillian Whyte and his team are eager to move on from 2019 and charge forward in the year ahead.
The moves being made suggest precisely that, as his next fight seems to have fallen in place even as the one pursued failed to materialize. The top-rated contender is looking good for showdown with former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin, to take place springtime in London, England.
“It looks like Povetkin next,” Eddie Hearn, Whyte’s longtime promoter told BoxingScene.com. “We’re just trying to slot the date in.”
The pairing of consensus Top 10 heavyweights was one of two pursued options for Whyte (27-1, 18KOs), who has won 11 straight since a December 2015 loss to Anthony Joshua when both were unbeaten rising contenders. Fittingly, one fight under serious consideration for the 31-year old contender from Brixton, England by way of Jamaica was a clash with Andy Ruiz, Joshua’s lone conqueror.
A generous offer was made to Ruiz (33-1, 22KOs), the former unified heavyweight titlist who rose to fame with an upset 7th round knockout of Joshua last June. The Imperial, California native came up well short in the rematch, showing up grossly out of shape and dropping a landslide decision to Joshua last December in Saudi Arabia.
Still, Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing was keen on remaining in the Ruiz business. A clash with Whyte would have served as a considerable sell, but with Ruiz set to move in another direction and—BoxingScene.com has learned—back under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), with those plans to be announced soon.
Meanwhile, Whyte still needed a dance partner for his first fight of 2020, which presumably leads to Povetkin (35-2-1, 24KOs). The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist from Russia remains a dangerous divisional threat, even as a 40-year old post-prime contender. Whyte and Povetkin appeared in separate bouts on the undercard of Joshua-Ruiz II, producing middling results. Povetkin fought to an entertaining 12-round draw with Michael Hunter II, while Whyte—who was added the show on short notice—claimed a 10-round decision over Poland’s Mariusz Wach.
His late placement on the show came as the result of his waiting out a final ruling from a months-long investigation into a positive drug test produced through testing with United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) ahead of his win over Oscar Rivas last July. Whyte tested positive for trace amounts of a banned substance but was able to provide the necessary evidence to convince UKAD to rule that the adverse test was due to contamination as any such charges were officially withdrawn just days ahead of his aforementioned win over Wach.
Now it’s on to the next one, with a clash versus Povetkin arriving as one of three major heavyweight-themed headliners that Matchroom Boxing has in store for the spring. Joshua (23-1, 21KOs) will defend his unified titles versus Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14KOs), while mandatory challenger in waiting Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13KOs)—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former World cruiserweight champion—will likely take on Whyte’s longtime divisional rival and countryman Derek Chisora (32-9, 23KOs).
“The trick now, is to stage all of these fights with proper spacing between them,” explains Hearn. “Ideally, we get Usyk-Chisora in (late March or early April), then Whyte-Povetkin a few weeks after that, followed by AJ and Pulev.
“For Whyte-Povetkin, it looks like early May but a matter of how the schedule plays out. It’s a fantastic fight and part of a massive heavyweight lineup we have in store.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox