What was one of the best fights on the remaining 2020 boxing schedule will instead become one of most anticipated matchups heading into the New Year.
The November 21 heavyweight rematch between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte has been postponed, due to Povetkin testing positive for COVID-19. The bout was due to air live on Sky Sports Box Office in the United Kingdom and on DAZN-USA in the U.S. live from SSE Arena at Wembley, but will instead carry a working date of January 30, 2021.
"Unfortunately we got the news today that Alexander Povetkin is in [the] hospital after testing positive for Covid-19," Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing announced revealed on Tuesday. "The fight will now be rescheduled to a target date of Jan 30."
The pair of top-rated heavyweights collided this past August, delivering perhaps the best heavyweight fight of 2020. Russia's Povetkin (36-2-1, 25KOs) was dropped twice in round four and seemingly on his way to a knockout loss before dramatically turning the tide. A left uppercut sent Whyte crashing to the canvas, with the fight immediately waved off by referee Mark Lyson just 0:30 into round five.
The moment remains on the short list of leading contenders for 2020 Knockout of the Year.
Brixton's Whyte (27-2, 18KOs) saw an 11-fight win streak snapped with the defeat, along with the chance to contend for the heavyweight title. The longtime top contender was forced to wait more than three years for a shot at the World Boxing Council (WBC) strap first held by Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs) and now in the possession of Whyte's countryman, unbeaten lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs).
Fury scored a one-sided 7th round knockout of Wilder in their rematch this past February, nearly 15 months after the two fought to a questionable 12-round draw. Plans for a third fight remain in limbo, due to the lack of available TV dates from ESPN and Fox Sports, who joined forces to present the second fight via joint Pay-Per-View and are on board to do the same for a third fight—if one takes place.
Meanwhile, Fury is planning to return to the ring on December 5, with Agit Kabayel as the frontrunner to land the fight pending his signing an approved offer. Whyte still has the Povetkin rematch to look forward to in the first quarter of 2021, although his team is not averse to racing straight to the title.
"Dillian Whyte v Tyson Fury, anyone?" Hearn quipped.
Plans for the November 21 show as a whole have yet to be revealed. Absent a Fury-Whyte clash actually materializing, the focus remains on getting Povetkin-Whyte 2 back on the scheduled though not before Povetkin is back at full strength.
“Firstly we want to wish Alexander Povetkin a speedy recovery,” said Hearn, who himself has recently fully recovered from his own bout with COVID-19. “This is a challenging time for shows. There will be lots of ups and downs over the next few months. We look forward to the fight happening in late January."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox