Lucas Browne: Dillian Whyte is a gatekeeper
By Scott Gilfoid: Lucas Browne says he sees #1 WBC heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte as a gatekeeper type fighter, and little more than another Dereck Chisora level fighter. Browne (25-0, 22 KOs) and Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) face each other this Saturday night on HBO Championship Boxing and Sky Sports at the O2 Arena in London, England.
Browne, 38, is the underdog in this fight even though he’s unbeaten and former WBA heavyweight champion. Critics point to Browne’s age and inactivity over the last couple of years when they predict the outcome of this Saturday’s clash. Whyte has a small 5-fight winning streak going since his loss to Anthony Joshua, and the boxing public feels that he’s improved since that defeat. It’s hard to if Whyte has gotten better though, as he’s only faced good decent opponent that time in Dereck Chisora and didn’t look good at all in their fight in December 2016. In fact, you can call that a loss for Whyte, but he came out on top in winning a 12 round split decision.
Browne and Whyte are fighting it out to get in position for a title shot against WBC champion Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. Those two are expected to fight each other soon. Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn has talked of him facing Wilder or Joshua next if he wins this Saturday. We’ll have to see if Hearn chooses to make a fight between Whyte and one of those two world champions. Without the World Boxing Council ordering Wilder to face Whyte, it’s not going to happen.
“I don’t rate Dillian Whyte that high. I see him as the new Dereck Chisora, he’s a gatekeeper, someone I have to beat to move on to bigger things,” Browne said to ESPN.com.
Browne has a very good chance of winning on Saturday if he can let his hands go against Whyte. In some of Browne’s fights, he starts slowly and doesn’t open with his heavy artillery until later. I think it would be better for Browne to start faster against Whyte, because he needs to take the crowd out of it. The fight is taking place in London, which means that the boxing fans at ringside will likely be supporting Whyte on Saturday night. There will be a lot of cheering for Whyte, and scarcely zero cheering for Browne. When you have an atmosphere like that, it could put Browne in a situation where the judges give Whyte every round. Browne might find himself in the same spot he was in against Ruslan Chagaev two years ago when he was hopelessly behind in the fight going into the 10th round. Browne was able to pull it out the victory with a spectacular 10th round knockout. If Brown waits until the later rounds to start pressing for a knockout, he might fail. Whyte will likely get on his bike and play defense. There was a time where you could count on Whyte going to war with his opponents, but nowadays he plays it safe and tries to keep out of harm’s way when he starts getting nailed with huge shots. Browne doesn’t have the wheels to chase Whyte down if he starts running from him late in the contest. That’s why it’s in Browne’s best interest is to make sure the early rounds aren’t close. He can’t let Whyte win the first half of the fight without him making him fight tooth and nail for it.
Browne does bring up a good point about Whyte being like Chisora. The difference between Whyte and Chisora is the level of opposition they’ve faced. Chisora stepped it up a level 7 times in his 11-year pro career and he lost all seven of those fights to Tyson Fury (x 2), Vitali Klitschko, David Haye, Kubrat Pulev, Robert Helenius and Whyte. Chisora lost to a prime version of Helenius in 2011. Whyte fought Helenius when he was older at 34, and not the same guy that Chisora had fought back in 2011.
Whyte has been matched a lot more carefully by his management. The only two good opponents on his resume are Joshua and Chisora. As such, there’s a very good possibility that Whyte would as many losses on his record as Chisora if he’d been fighting a lot of good opposition in the last seven years instead of the fighters that he’s been padding his record. You can judge for yourself whether Whyte has been facing the cream of the crop at heavyweight during his 7-year pro career. Here are Whyte’s last 10 fights:
• Robert Helenius
• Malcolm Tann
• Dereck Chisora
• Ian Lewison
• David Allen
• Ivica Bacurin
• Anthony Joshua
• Brian Minto
• Irineu Beato Costa Junior
• Beka Lobjannize
There’s not much quality there on Whyte’s resume unfortunately. When you fight the type of guys that Whyte has fought, it’s not surprising that you have a 22-1 record, because he’s not been taking the risky fights that would put him in harm’s way. He’s been padding his record.
Whyte is better than a gatekeeper heavyweight obviously. The division is going through a weak period right now with a lack of talented heavyweights. It’s perhaps one of the weakest points in the history of the division. Why else would you get a flawed fighter like Whyte ranked No.1 by the World Boxing Council? In terms of where Whyte exists in the overall rankings for the heavyweight division, I would place him at No.11 in the division. Whyte is a top 15 contender, but he’s clearly not a No.1 guy. The WBC is being very kind to Whyte with that ranking. Whyte’s victories since his loss to Joshua have come against these fighters: David Allen, Malcolm Tann, Ian Lewison, Ivica Bacurin, Robert Helenius and Dereck Chisora. Allen, Tann, Lewison and Bacurin are basically journeymen level fighters. Helenius, 34, was a top heavyweight contender for several years, but he never did anything with his career.
In 2016, former heavyweight world title challenger Johann Duhaupas sopped Helenius in the 6th round. After that fight, Helenius went back to fighting soft marshmallow level opposition until he fought Whyte last October on the undercard of the Joshua vs. Carlos Takam card in Cardiff, Wales. Whyte was staggered by Helenius in the 2nd round of that fight, but he was able to take control of the bout and win a 12 round decision. Whyte couldn’t knockout a guy that had been stopped by non-puncher Duhaupas a year earlier.
The 6’3”, 250 lb. Browne is trying to get back to the top of the division where he briefly was two years ago when he defeated Russian Ruslan Chagaev by a 10th round knockout to win the WBC heavyweight title. Browne lost the title after testing positive for clenbuterol. Despite saying that his food/water had been tampered with while he was in Russia for the Chagaev fight, Browne was stripped of his WBA title and given a 6-month suspension. Clenbuterol is the same substance that Mexican star Saul Canelo Alvarez tested positive for on two occasions last February. Canelo blamed his positive test on eating contaminated meat. His case is still under investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but he’s expected to be cleared by them. Browne tested positive for a second banned drug ostarine not long after the positive test for clenbuterol. Browne was finally able to resume his career last June in stopping journeyman Matthew Greer (16-20) in the 2nd round.
Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn is really eager to match him with both Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. So eager is Hearn that he’s even willing to jeopardize the Joshua-Wilder fight by pushing for Wilder to fight Whyte next. Frankly, I that’s a crazy idea for Hearn, but that shows you that he’s looking out for his own fighters, and not thinking long term.
”You have the Whyte, Wilder, Joshua triangle really where they all may end up fighting each other,” Hearn said to secondsout.com. ”If he (Wilder) wants to take an interim fight, the winner of this fight (Whyte vs. Browne) would probably dust off his mandatory and would be a good fight to build up a potential Joshua-Wilder fight. All I know is the winner of this fight (Whyte-Browne) is very likely to be the WBC mandatory, and he’s going to be screaming down the house for a world title shot. I’ve wanted to make Whyte-Wilder for a long time, but I also understand the responsibilities to me to provide a fight like Joshua-Wilder. We’ll have to see what happens this Saturday and on the 31st of March. Wilder-Whyte is a good fight. I’m not saying Dillian deserves a shot against Wilder or Joshua. I’m saying he’s been on a winning streak since then, and he’s the mandatory for Wilder, so it’s not like he’s picking him. At some point if Dillian wins on Saturday, he will be mandatory for Deontay Wilder. So, he will have earned that spot. Wilder could fight Dillian. Joshua could fight Dillian,” Hearn said.
As you can tell, Hearn is very, very interested in matching Whyte against Deontay Wilder next if he gets past Browne this Saturday night. Hearn wants the Wilder-Whyte so bad that he’s even willing to risk the much bigger Joshua-Wilder fight. It sounds to me like someone needs to someone in Matchroom Boxing needs to reign Hearn in to keep him from impulsively making the Wilder-Whyte fight that could potentially wreck the much bigger Joshua-Wilder fight. If Wilder loses to Whyte, then you can forget about the Joshua-Wilder fight. Anything is possible in the heavyweight division. I don’t see Whyte beating Wilder, but if it does happen, you can forget about the Wilder-Joshua match taking place anytime soon.
Browne has the chance of keeping Hearn from realizing his vision by beating Whyte this Saturday night. If Browne knockouts Whyte in a spectacular fashion, Hearn is going to look silly if he keeps banging the drum for a fight between Whyte and Wilder. Hearn will look pathetic if he continues to talk up a Wilder-Whyte fight. Heck, Hearn might as well try and talk up a Wilder vs. David Allen fight at that point, because Whyte would be in the same position. If Browne obliterates Whyte this Saturday night, it’s going to take ages to bring him back from that loss. It took three years to bring Whyte back from his loss to Joshua in 2015, and they did it on the cheap by matching him against mostly weak opposition. Whyte didn’t fight anyone good in his last six fights other than Chisora, who as I mentioned, beat him but wasn’t given the decision. Whyte needs to keep his head down against Browne, because if he gets nailed with a big shot, he could be on his back, counting stars on the night.
Browne has the advantage in punching power in this fight. Whyte is not a big puncher at all. His right hand has no power to it. His left hook is no longer the weapon that it once was after he tore up his shoulder in 2015. Whyte can still punch with decent power when going to the body, but that’s about it. Whyte’s best weapon is his jab. He has a very good jab. Browne will need to nullify that on Saturday if he wants to win the fight.