The specifics of the WBC’s heavyweight mandatory schedule remain up in the air even though the winner of the rematch between interim titlist Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte will be in position to eventually challenge for the full title, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday night.
Whyte had been designated as the WBC mandatory challenger for champion Tyson Fury and the sanctioning body announced that it would order the winner of the third bout between Fury and former world titlist Deontay Wilder, who are penciled in to fight again on Dec. 19, to fight Whyte by the end of February – as long as Whyte defeated Povetkin on Aug. 22.
But then Povetkin, who had been down twice in the fourth round and being soundly beaten, unleashed a devastating left uppercut that knocked Whyte out cold 30 seconds into the fifth round to claim the interim belt in an upset.
There went Whyte’s guarantee of getting the first shot at the Fury-Wilder III winner after more than 1,000 days as the number one contender.
Whyte quickly exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch with Povetkin and on Tuesday, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced that the sequel would take place at a site to be determined on Nov. 21 in the main event of a Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the United Kingdom.
Hearn told Sky Sports that by winning Povetkin had taken over Whyte’s position as the mandatory challenger and that he would press for the winner of the rematch to still be promised the first shot at the Fury-Wilder III winner early next year.
“We've gone from Whyte trying to win that fight (against Povetkin) to become mandatory to Fury, to him needing to win to save any chance he has of challenging for a world title,” Hearn said. “Povetkin is mandatory to Fury. The winner of this (rematch) will be mandatory to Fury -- it's just a case of when. Whyte had the date (by the end of February) locked in and, if he wins, will be pushing for that date to be reinstated.”
However, according to Sulaiman, Hearn is getting a bit ahead of himself.
“The WBC has been consistent and very public with this matter,” Sulaiman said to BoxingScene.com. “Dillian Whyte, had he defeated Povetkin, would have been the mandatory contender for the winner of Fury versus Wilder III. That was all over the news; that was a major player on the publicity of such a fight and that was ratified by the WBC Board of Governors during the annual convention, which was open and accessible to everyone.
“Dillian Whyte was knocked out by Povetkin. Povetkin is the WBC interim champion and as interim champion he has rights described in (WBC) rule 3.22.”
But according to that rule, Povetkin (36-2-1, 25 KOs), 41, of Russia, or Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs), 32, of England -- if he wins the rematch -- is not the mandatory challenger. In addition, neither man is guaranteed a shot at the Fury-Wilder III winner, especially since Fury and his promoters, Top Rank and Frank Warren, have the outline of a deal in place for Fury and the Hearn-promoted unified champion Anthony Joshua to meet for the undisputed title, as long as Fury defeats Wilder and Joshua defeats mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in a bout penciled in for Dec. 12.
Here is WBC rule 3.22: “In its sole discretion, the WBC shall subsequently determine the timing and terms of any bout between a Champion and Interim Champion to determine a sole champion in the division, provided, however, that an Interim Champion shall never be deemed a mandatory challenger, or entitled to greater share of proceeds of any purse offer beyond that of a challenger, without a specific prior written order to that effect from the WBC President or his designee.”
In other words, the winner of Povetkin-Whyte II will have the interim title but the WBC is under no obligation to order the winner to fight the Fury-Wilder III winner. The WBC only mandated Whyte to get the first shot at the Fury-Wilder III winner because he had been the mandatory challenger since before he won the interim belt and was threatening a lawsuit for having not gotten his shot yet.
Warren said the Fury-Wilder III winner won’t have to worry about a mandatory defense for at least a year, the usual amount of time a champion has to make a mandatory defense.
“I've spoken with the WBC since (Povetkin-Whyte I) and they confirm that even if Dillian beats Povetkin to regain their interim belt the time scale has changed. The thousand days Whyte says he has been waiting for his WBC shot will not count,” Warren told Daily Mail a few days after Povetkin starched Whyte. “If he is reinstated as mandatory challenger, then whoever is their champion will have a year to make the fight.”
Also, Sulaiman said the WBC has not even received a request to sanction the Povetkin-Whyte rematch yet, even though the fight has been officially announced.
“The WBC has not received any sanction request for a Povetkin versus Whyte rematch (and) Dillian Whyte is medically suspended by the (British Boxing Board of Control) after a knockout. The mandatory status in the heavyweight division will be addressed in due time.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.