Dillian Whyte vs. Robert Helenius on Oct.28
By Scott Gilfoid: Promoter Eddie Hearn’s big-name opponent for heavyweight contender Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte (21-1, 16 KOs) to fight on October 28 is #9 IBF Robert “The Nordic” Nightmare” Helenius (25-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Council Silver heavyweight title on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev fight at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
The Joshua vs. Pulev card will be televised on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the UK. Showtime Boxing will televise the Joshua-Pulev fight in the U.S, but it’s unclear whether Whyte’s fight against the stork-like 6’7 ½” Helenius will make it on the broadcast. I’m guessing it won’t be.
Hearn tried to get former heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale to take the fight with Whyte on short notice for October 28. It was rumored that Breazeale wasn’t happy with the offer from Hearn.
The significance of Whyte and Helenius fighting for the WBC’s Silver heavyweight strap is a clear move on Hearn’s part to have his fighter Whyte positioned as the No.1 mandatory challenger to WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder if he comes out on top on October 28. Whyte is ranked No.3 with the WBC right now behind only #1 WBC Bermane Stiverne and #2 WBC Luis Ortiz. It’s still highly unlikely that Wilder will give Whyte a title shot before he faces Joshua in a unification fight in 2018 unless Hearn drags his feet on making the Joshua-Wilder fight.
Hearn can prolong that fight for as long as he wants without making it. If Hearn wants to wait to make the Joshua-Wilder fight until after Wilder is eventually forced to defend his WBC title against Whyte, he can do that. I’m not sure it’ a smart thing for Hearn to waste time like that, as Whyte isn’t that good of a fighter. It could still take another 1 to 2 years before the WBC forced Wilder to face Whyte.
This isn’t a bad selection that Hearn came up with for the 29-year-old Whyte, given that there’s less than 2 weeks for Helenius to get ready for the fight. It must have been a very good offer that Hearn gave the Swedish fighter for him to agree to fight Whyte on less than 2 weeks’ notice. It’s a risky fight for Helenius to take regardless.
Even with a full 8 weeks of training, it would be a difficult fight for Helenius. Hopefully for Helenius’ sake, he’s been in the gym and training already, because you can bet that Whyte has. Whyte was already told months ago to be ready to fight on the Joshua-Pulev undercard on October 28, so he’s been training all this time. We’ll have to see what kind of shape Helenius is in when he gets inside the ring with Whyte on October 28.
“I think we have made it very clear, we want to make Dillian Whyte versus Deontay Wilder and this WBC Silver title will put us in prime position,” said Hearn to skysports.com. “Helenius is a giant of a man with plenty of experience and this is a tough test for Dillian. It’s going to be explosive,” said Hearn.
Wow, it looks like Hearn is going to try and press the issue to force Wilder to face Whyte before he fights Joshua in a unification match. I think it would be much smarter for Hearn to lay it on the line by telling Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) that in order for him to get the Joshua fight, he has to face Whyte first. Hearn can certainly do that, and he would leave the “Bronze Bomber” no other choice but to jump through his hoop in facing Whyte first for him to get the fight he wants against Joshua. I don’t think Wilder would have enough resolve to walk away from that offer, especially if Hearn tells him that it’s the only way he’s ever going to get the fight against Joshua.
Personally, I think it’s stupid beyond belief that Hearn is pushing so hard to get Wilder to fight Whyte before he’s given the fight Joshua fight. It’s stupid because if Wilder loses the fight to Whyte, then all that money that Joshua and Hearn would have made on a Joshua-Wilder fight would be down the drain. Whyte is sort of popular, but he’s nowhere near the level of Wilder. Even if Whyte were to beat Wilder, his popularity wouldn’t be increased significantly with the British boxing public. Whyte lacks the star appeal that is needed for him to be a huge name for Joshua to fight.
I don’t know why Hearn would be foolish enough to want to risk the Joshua vs. Wilder fight by forcing Whyte to face the Bronze Bomber. Yeah, it could potentially make the Joshua-Wilder fight bigger if Wilder poleaxes Whyte in knocking him out cold in early 2018, but what happens if Wilder loses that fight? Joshua vs. Whyte 2 probably won’t be nearly as big as the Joshua vs. Wilder fight would have. I mean, I don’t know who’s doing the thinking with Matchroom Sport, but I don’t see much logic in Hearn cramming Whyte down Wilder’s throat and risking the much bigger fight between Wilder and Joshua. I wouldn’t make that move if I were Hearn, but then again, I see things clearly. I would know that Joshua vs. Whyte 2 will never be as big as Joshua vs. Wilder. If I was Joshua’s promoter, I might try and suggest that Wilder fight an easy domestic level heavyweight like David Allen or Sam Sexton for him to fight, but definitely not Whyte. That’s crazy for Hearn to be trying to shove that fight onto Wilder. I think someone is asleep at the wheel with Matchroom Sport, because there’s no critical thinking going on when it comes to that move by Hearn.
If I were Wilder, I’d vacate the WBC if the World Boxing Council tries to force me to fight Whyte. I would then sign for the fight with Joshua as a contender. If Hearn drags his feet and insists on me fighting Whyte in order to get the Joshua fight, I’d walk away and wait until he starts thinking rationally.
Helenius was recently knocked out in the 6th round by former heavyweight world title challenger Johann Duhaupas last year on April 2 at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. The fight took place in front of Helenius’ own boxing fans in Finland. Duhaupas dropped Helenius in rounds 4 and 6. It was a terrible performance from Helenius. Since then, Helenius has won his last 3 fights in beating journeymen Konstantin Airech, Gonzalo Omar Basile and Evgeny Orlov. It’s great news that Helenius has turned his career around with 3 consecutive wins, but it’s bad that he’s been fighting awful opposition. I think if Helenius fought Duhaupas again right now, we’d see the same outcome as we did in their fight last year. Helenius hasn’t gotten better. He’s only winning now because he’s facing such poor opponents.
Whyte has a 5-fight winning streak going since he was knocked out in the 7th round by Joshua on December 12, 2015. Whyte recently beat 39-year-old journeyman Malcolm Tann by a 3rd round knockout in his last fight on August 19. Whyte looked like a world beater in that fight, but we’re talking about a fighter that had been out of the ring for 9 years until making a comeback last year in October. In Tann’s fight before facing Whyte, he was knocked out in the 4h round by Russian Sergey Kuzmin on June 23. The last time I checked, Kuzmin is nowhere to be seen in the top 15 rankings in the heavyweight division. A fight that is more indicative of Whyte’s true talent was his match against Dereck Chisora last December in Manchester, England. Whyte won a controversial 12 round split decision victory over Chisora. Boxing News 24 had Chisora winning, as did a lot of other fans. So, we’re basically talking about Whyte being not quite as good as Chisora. They’re both about the same in terms of talent. Whyte is just a little bit younger.
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