Dillian Whyte vs. Oscar Rivas on July 20 on Sky Box Office
By Trevor McIntyre: Dillian Whyte will be risking his #1 ranking with the WBC in facing unbeaten Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs) on July 20 on Sky Box Office pay-per-view at the O2 Arena in London, England.
#5 WBO, #6 WBA & #7 IBF Rivas recently scored a 12th round knockout victory over the Top Rank promoted Bryant Jennings earlier this year on January 18 in Verona, New York. The fight was very close, and it shouldn’t have been if Rivas had more talent. Obviously, Whyte and his promoter Eddie Hearn saw how badly Rivas struggled against the 34-yer-old Jennings, and decided it was safe to use him as an opponent. At the time of the stoppage, Rivas up on two of the judges’ scorecards by the scores 105-104, 106-103, and trailing on the third score by the score 106-103.
“I am very happy to be fighting again at The O2 in July,” said Whyte. “Oscar Rivas is undefeated and ranked in the top 10 across the board of all the governing bodies. He has been one of the most avoided heavyweight fighters in the last few years.”
This is an important fight for Whyte. He needs to stay busy while he waits to see if he can get a world title shot against champions Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. Whyte will take either one of them, but it’s unclear whether that’ll happen in 2019. It’s likely that Whyte and his promoter Eddie Hearn have scouted Rivas out well enough for them to deem him not threat. The one guy that Whyte hasn’t been in a hurry to fight is the talented Cuban Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs). If Rivas possessed that kind of power, size, and boxing skills of Rivas, he likely wouldn’t be getting the fight against Whyte.
Rivas is along the same lines talent-wise as Whyte’s last opponent Dereck Chisora, who he was losing to going into the 11th round of their recent fight last December. Rivas, 28, is younger than Chisora, faster, and he comes into fights in better condition. Whyte could have problems if he’s unable to catch Rivas with a big shot like he did against Chisora. Rivas will be the visiting fighter at Whyte’s favorite venue at the O2 Arena in London. Rivas needs to keep his eyes open, and be ready to be potentially roughed up like Whyte’s last two opponents Chisora and Joseph Parker. Those guys were mauled by Whyte at times, and they failed to react to it well. Parker took it for 12 rounds, and ended up losing a 12 round decision.
This is a fight that Whyte cannot afford to slip on a banana skin and lose. If Whyte gets beaten by the 2008 Olympian from Colombia Rivas, then he’ll be right back to square one in needing to rebuild his career for a couple of years before he’s given a world title shot. It’s doubtful that Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn would make him wait more than a year before he sticks him back in with Anthony Joshua for a rematch. A loss for Whyte against Rivas would make it clear to him that he needs to put those guys in with each other while there’s still interest from the British boxing public. Whyte almost lost twice to Chisora and Parker. Whyte was knocked down in the 12th round by Parker, and out on his feet when the bell sounded to end the fight. If there had been a 13th round, Whyte would have likely been knocked out. Whyte could lose to Rivas for sure, and that’ll spoil things for Hearn on the short term. Whyte would still get the rematch with Joshua in a year or so of rebuilding, but the money wouldn’t be as good as it would if he took the fight with a long winning streak.
“His KO victory over Bryant Jennings sent shockwaves through the division and Tyson Fury just turned down ESPN/Top Rank’s offer to fight him,” Whyte said about Rivas. I am over the moon that he has accepted the fight. He has a great amateur and professional record, including a win over Kubrat Pulev.”
Rivas’ win over Jennings didn’t send shockwaves through the division. Jennings had already been knocked out by Luis Ortiz in a much quicker and better fashion in seventh round stoppage in 2015. In contrast to the problems that Rivas had in beating Jennings, Ortiz beat him in a one-sided fight.
Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that he wanted to wait until the WBC made their ruling on his mandatory status before he named his opponent. With Hearn scheduling Whyte to face Rivas, it suggests that he might already know what the WBC’s ruling is.
Whyte has put together a nice nine-fight winning streak since his seventh round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015. The more notable wins for Whyte during the last three years have come against Dereck Chisora [x 2] and Joseph Parker. The rest of the wins were over beatable guys like Lucas Browne, who was knocked out tonight in three rounds by Dave Allen, Robert Helenius, Ivica Bacurin, Malcolm Tann, David Allen and Ian Lewison. Whyte has become a popular fighter in the UK with the victories over this bunch. He’s had some controversy with those fights though. Whyte’s first win over Chisora in 2016 was a questionable one in a fight that could have gone the other. Likewise, Whyte’s win over Parker was controversial as well due to a head-butt knockdown he was given credit for in the second round, and a lot of fouling that he got away during the fight without being penalized.
The 30-year-old Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) is still hoping to be made the mandatory challenger to the winner of the May 18th fight between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale. The World Boxing Council still hasn’t made their ruling whether to order the Wilder-Breazeale winner to face Whyte in their immediate next fight despite him not having taken part in the WBC’s normal title eliminator process. Whyte opted not to take part, and that’s why he’s still not the mandatory. Breazeale fought in an eliminator two years ago in beating Eric Molina.
Whyte kept his #1 spot in his last fight in defeating 35-year-old former heavyweight world title challenger Dereck Chisora by an 11th round knockout on December 22 at the O2 Arena in London in a fight that saw Dereck penalized twice for fouls. Whyte was doing his share of fouling, but the referee didn’t take points away from him. Sometimes referees are like that. They’ll take away points from one guy, but then ignore the fouling from the other fighter. It might have been better if the referee had simply stayed out of it rather than impacting the fight the way he did.