Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte will enter the ring at Wembley Stadium shortly after 10pm on Saturday night with mutual respect and the brutal uncertainties of heavyweight boxing. “We’re big guys,” Whyte said a week ago at his training camp in Portugal, “and when a big heavyweight catches the other guy, all plans and predictions go out the window. I know Tyson is the best heavyweight out there, but I’ve been through a lot to get this fight. I also know that I can hurt him. I know I can beat him.”
A couple of days later, in the shadow of the huge arena where Fury will defend his WBC title against his British challenger, the world champion and undoubted favorite was just as forceful and respectful. “Dillian is definitely a fearless guy. I have faced him a lot in the past and he did not show any weakness. So I anticipate a good fight, a really tough fight, because Dillian is a strong heavyweight who is in the top five in the world. He poses a real challenge, just like all these heavyweights. It only takes one punch to knock a man out as we have seen many times. So I’m not underestimating it. I have trained as a Trojan warrior.
Getting excited about his task and stripping himself of all flowery talk, Fury added: “I break it down to the bare minimum and we have two big lumps in the ring, trying to knock each other out. It’s nothing new, just on a bigger stage. I will leave every ounce of strength and energy I have in the ring. That’s all you can do. You can train a horse for battle, but the rest is in the hands of God. If it’s written in the stars that I win again, we’ll have a drink after the fight for one night and a very successful career. Then I’ll get back in my car, drive straight to Morecambe Bay and get the bins out on Monday morning. The same old story.”
Of course, in boxing, nothing is easy. Fury has had an often difficult week of fighting and there were times when he was irritated by persistent questions about his past working relationship with Daniel Kinahan, the alleged leader of a drug cartel. He has spoken in more detail about his plans to retire after this fight. Few people in boxing believe his fight against Whyte will be his last, but Fury has had plenty of tough fights in recent years.
Whyte, the 34-year-old Jamaican-born Londoner, has had to wait years for this first shot at a world title and bears a burning resentment at the way he says he has been treated by the WBC and Fury promoters whom he believes. . They have cost you a significant amount of money. He will receive 20% of the record $41,025,000 fight purse. Whyte is convinced that the Court of Arbitration for Sport will eventually award him at least 30%, and possibly more.
Hunger and deprivation marked his early years in Kingston, and as a teenager, when he was finally reunited with his mother in London, he fell into gang life. Whyte was stabbed twice and shot, but survived. He had a son at the age of 13 and his life has often been tumultuous.
As a professional, having little amateur experience, he has won 28 of his 30 fights. He performed creditably against Anthony Joshua in 2015, shaking up the future world champion, before Whyte was stopped by a seventh-round TKO. After winning his next 11 fights in a row, and having long established himself as the WBC’s mandatory challenger, Whyte’s world was turned upside down again. In August 2020, in the middle of the lockdown, he fought against the old Russian warhorse Alexander Povetkin. The acute loneliness of heavyweight boxing enveloped Whyte after he was knocked out in the fifth round by a sickening uppercut. He had dropped Povetkin twice in the fourth but, just minutes later, he was unconscious before hitting the canvas.
It says a lot about Whyte’s courage and the bravery that Fury acknowledges, that he demanded a rematch. His knockout of Povetkin was just as conclusive in the fourth round and a test of both his power and his mental toughness.
Fury recognizes the danger that lurks beneath the seemingly obvious prediction that he is simply too skilled and resilient to succumb to Whyte. “Unless it’s Houdini, I’m definitely hittable,” he said earlier this week. “I’ve definitely been hit before. I’ve bounced off the mat more times than a bouncy ball. So I’m not that untouchable boxer everyone thinks I might be. I’m just a normal boxer who has been lucky 32 times in a row.”
He remains undefeated after those 32 fights and Fury truly believes he is the best heavyweight in the world by far: “I know he thinks he is the six-foot-nine-inch version of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Mike Tyson rolled into one,” Whyte . he said, “but he is only a man. Obviously the crowd plays a part and there will be 94,000 people there. I know it’s going to be a pro-Fury crowd. Who cares? That’s the great thing about the sport and especially heavyweight boxing. The underdog can always win.”
However, it will be a seismic shock if Whyte wins. Despite the enduring unpredictability of some heavyweight contests and the volatile lives of both men, Fury should win again. For all his fervent talk of retirement, he would be that much more surprising if he didn’t return to the ring for at least one or two more fights after Saturday night.