Dillian Whyte relaxed ahead of ‘most important fight of career’
By David Charlesworth, PA
Dillian Whyte recognises his heavyweight rematch against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday night is the most significant fight of his career but the Londoner is relaxed ahead of the occasion in Gibraltar.
Whyte seemed poised to reinforce his position as the WBC’s mandatory challenger after knocking Povetkin down twice in their first meeting last August but the Russian recovered to poleaxe his opponent with a savage left uppercut.
That shock fifth-round knockout loss has at least temporarily shelved hopes of fighting Tyson Fury, with Whyte’s only focus on immediate revenge ahead of his return bout against the 41-year-old Povetkin.
“It’s the most important fight of my career,” said Whyte, 32, at a press conference broadcast on Matchroom’s social channels ahead of a fight dubbed the ‘Rumble on the Rock’.
“But I’ve been through ups and downs my whole life; I’m used to coming back and proving people wrong, I’m used to showing people what I can do if they write me off.
“The main thing is to win. I’m a competitor and I hate losing at anything so I want to make it 1-1. That’s the plan.
“I’m good, I’m easy. Still learning, still improving and getting better every day. On Saturday I’m coming to leave it all on the line once again. I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
The first meeting between the pair was staged behind closed doors in promoter Eddie Hearn’s childhood back garden in Brentwood because of Covid-19 restrictions.
But this weekend’s contest is due to be held at the Europa Point Sports Complex in Gibraltar, with 500 fans able to attend after the British overseas territory recently became the first place in the world to vaccinate the whole of its adult population.
“This last year has been very difficult for everyone,” added Whyte (27-2, 18KOs). “I’m just doing my part to try to bring our beloved sport back to some sort of normality. It will be good to have the fans back.
“We’ve done the best we could and looked at a few different venues to try to get some fans in and try to get big time boxing back because this is a big fight – this fight is as big as any world title fight.”
Povetkin, an Olympic gold medallist and former WBA titlist whose only two professional defeats in a 39-fight career have come against Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua in 2013 and 2018 respectively, insists he draws no confidence from what happened in his first fight against Whyte.
The pair came face-to-face on Thursday for the first time since their showdown in Essex last year, but it was a relatively low-key affair and a staredown ended in a cordial handshake.
“I’ve almost forgotten the last fight because this is another story and I think Dillian will be better in the second fight than the first one,” said Povetkin (36-2-1, 25KOs). “But at the same time I will try to be more careful and pay attention to my defence.
“I don’t have this feeling that I will knock him out. I just (want) to come over and win. It could (go) the distance. I’m not focused on the knockout, I just need to follow my plan.”