Dillian Whyte: No one knows who Oleksander Usyk is
By Tim Royner: Dillian Whyte doesn’t rate unified cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk as a big enough name for him to be worthy of fighting, if he can’t get the match he wants against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, UK. As far as Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) is concerned, there are only five fighters in the heavyweight division that are worth him fighting, and Usyk isn’t one of them due to him not being well known enough for him to fight him.
Whyte dismissing a fight against Usyk due to him supposedly not being popular enough could be viewed by some boxing fans as a way for him to avoid facing him and potentially losing. If Whyte loses to Usyk, then he can forget about his much desired rematch with Anthony Joshua. Whyte cannot take a loss right now with the rematch with Joshua still a possibility. But at the same time, Whyte needs to tell the boxing public something for why he’s not stepping it up to face Usyk or Luis Ortiz, as both want to fight him.
“There’s five possible fighters [Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Jarrell Miller, Dominic Breazeale and Deontay Wilder] out there for me,” Whyte said to IFL TV.
Besides Usyk, Whyte left out Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz in naming the options available to him for important fights. Ortiz is highly rated, well respected, and has looked good in winning his last two fights since losing to World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder last year in March. Some boxing fans believe that Whyte is purposefully avoiding a fight against Ortiz for fear of being beaten. Before Whyte selected Dereck Chisora recently to fight on a rematch on December 22, Ortiz was supposedly one of the options for him to fight. It’s generally believed that Ortiz would have given Whyte a tougher time than Chisora.
Up until the referee deducted a point from Chisora in round 11, Dereck was giving Whyte all he could handle in the fight. Chisora was ahead of the fight going into the tenth round. The referee Marcus McDonnell seemed to change the tide of the fight by his decision to take away a point from Chisora for the use of the elbow. Three rounds earlier, the referee had docked Chisora a point for a low blow in round 8. It looked to some boxing fans like the referee was only coming down on Chisora, and not doing anything about the fouling by Whyte. After the point deduction in the 11th, Chisora started swinging wildly in what appeared to be a move to make up for the lost point. Whyte took advantage of Chisora’s wildness to tag him with a big left hook that knocked him out.
“He’s a good fighter, but no one knows who he is,” Whyte said about Oleksander Usyk. “He speaks no English. What I’m saying is he’s not really a big fight for me. The hardcore boxing fans will watch it [Whyte vs. Usyk], but imagine trying to sell Usyk-Dillian Whyte to the general public.”
Whyte requiring that his opponents have a command of English isn’t a good excuse for him not fighting Usyk. The British boxing fans wouldn’t care whether Usyk can speak great English. They would be highly interested in seeing Whyte take on Usyk, as he’s the best fighter at cruiserweight, and he’s viewed as a future opponent for Joshua. Assuming that Whyte gets past Usyk, he would be doing a job of eliminating one of Joshua’s future options. That would be a good thing for Whyte to do, because the more guys he eliminates, the better the chances are that he gets to fight Joshua two or three times. Whyte can’t do that though if he’s ruling out fights against the likes of Usyk, and not showing interest in facing the likes of Ortiz.
Dominic Breazeale is a fighter that Whyte is interested in fighting, considering that he’s the World Boxing Council mandatory for champion Deontay Wilder. A victory for Whyte over Breazeale would make him the mandatory for Wilder. Even if Whyte beats Breazeale, he would still need to wait until the WBC orders the fight, and that might not happen anytime soon. The WBC wanted Whyte to face Luis Ortiz in a secondary eliminator match, but he didn’t show any desire in taking that fight. Whyte didn’t see the point in fighting for the secondary mandatory spot with the WBC, because he wants to be the first option for Wilder. That’s not going to happen though, as Breazeale isn’t likely going to fight Whyte unless his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing offers him more money than what he’d get by facing Wilder in a title shot. Hearn has deep enough pockets to lure Breazeale into fighting Whyte, but it won’t be inexpensive. It might end up being like how Hearn got IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin to come over to the UK to defend his belt against Anthony Joshua in April 2016. Breazeale would likely come over to the UK to face Whyte if Hearn offers him enough money.
There’s no real point in Whyte fighting Breazeale to try and snag his mandatory spot, since Dillian is likely going to get the fight with Joshua on April 13 anyway, it doesn’t make sense for him to fight Breazeale. Even if he doesn’t get it then, he’ll almost surely get the fight in the second half of 2019. Hearn isn’t showing interest in giving Wilder the 50-50 purse split for a fight against Joshua. Likewise, Hearn probably won’t offer Tyson Fury enough of a purse split for him to fight Joshua either. Whyte and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller are the guys that Hearn is interested in feeding to Joshua in 2019, not Wilder or Fury. For that reason, it doesn’t make sense for Whyte to fight Breazeale in a needless fight that could end badly for him. Whyte isn’t that good of a fighter. If he was, he would have dominated Chisora in his two fights with him the way Tyson Fury did. If Whyte was a really talented guy, his fight with Joseph Parker would have been an easy one, and not one that was won by a blown call by the referee in giving Dillian credit for a knockdown after he clashed heads with him.
The way Usyk fought in beating Tony Bellew in his last fight in November, he would have to be viewed as a solid favorite to beat Whyte if that fight were to take place this year. From what he’s saying about the Ukrainian lacking the popularity needed to get a fight with him, Whyte isn’t going to let Usyk have a chance to beat him.