WBC likely to rule on Dillian Whyte’s mandatory position this week
By Tim Royner: Promoter Eddie Hearn is hoping the WBC will be making a ruling by Friday on the mandatory status for Dillian Whyte for him to get a title shot against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. What Hearn specifically is asking for is to have the World Boxing Council make Whyte’s next fight against #10 WBC fringe contender Oscar Rivas for both the interim and the mandatory spot with the sanctioning body.
Hearn wants WBC to say when Whyte can fight for the title
Not only does Hearn want Whyte to be made the mandatory and interim champion for the Rivas match, he also wants the WBC to give date for when Dillian will get his title shot against Wilder. Hearn would like the WBC to order Wilder to defend against Whyte after his next title defense against Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs), which is expected to take place in October or November of this year. The problem with Wilder fighting Whyte after the Ortiz fight is Wilder is already planning on defending against the highly popular Tyson Fury in a rematch in early 2020. Further, Wilder just finished defending against his mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale on May 18.
If the WBC orders Wilder to defend against Whyte in early 2020, he would be making back to back mandatory defenses against a fighter that isn’t well known in the U.S, and brings little to the table. Whyte has turned down eliminators against Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev in the past. It’s unclear why Whyte hasn’t taken part in the eliminators, but obviously he’s made things harder for himself by not agreeing to them. Of course, Whyte might have lost those fights, so perhaps he did make the right move. It’s obviously better for a fighter to bypass eliminators if they’re not confident they can win them. Pulev and Ortiz would have had an excellent chance of beating Whyte if the fights were held in at a neutral venue.
There’s a lot of money to be made in the Wilder vs. Fury rematch. In contrast, Wilder vs. Whyte would be a similar type of fight as the Bronze Bomber’s recent title defense against Dominic Breazeale. In other words, there wouldn’t be much interest from American boxing fans in seeing Wilder defend against Whyte, because he’s not well known, and he’s not beaten anyone of note. Whyte’s recent wins have come against old guys like 40-year-old Lucas Browne, 36-year-old Dereck Chisora, and Robert Helenious. Whyte hasn’t stepped up to fight talented opposition as of yet to make a name for himself. Whyte beat Joseph Parker last year, but the win was tainted due to a blown call in the second round of the fight. Whyte clashed heads with Parker, sending the New Zealand fighter to the canvas. The referee then mistakenly ruled it a knockdown. It’s a fight that screamed out for a rematch, but it’s not happened.
For Wilder to have to fight another mandatory so soon seems out of sorts with how things are normally done. Breazeale had to wait two years for his title shot after being made the mandatory to Wilder in 2017. If the WBC holds to that pattern, then Whyte could get his title shot by 2021 if he beats Rivas. Of course, the WBC could make Whyte jump through a hoop by selecting a highly ranked #5 contender for him to fight instead of Whyte being able to fight the guy that he and Hearn have picked out to fight in an eliminator. Whyte and Hearn chose Rivas, not the WBC. It obviously would look better from a fan’s perspective if the WBC were the one picking Whyte’s opponent for the WBC eliminator rather than Whyte and Hearn. Should fighters be able to pick and choose who they will or won’t fight in title eliminators? That’s the question here.
We are right now on the brink of making that happen. It’s very, very likely that the Rivas fight will be a final eliminator and for an interim world title,” Hearn said to Sky Sports News.
The two problems with Whyte-Rivas fight being an eliminator
There are two problems with Whyte’s fight against Whyte being a title eliminator and for the WBC interim. One, the short 6’0″ Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs) is a fringe contender, not a top five contender. Secondly, Whyte and his promoter Eddie Hearn have selected Rivas, not the WBC, so it looks more than a little odd if that title is given the green light by the WBC to be an official eliminator. If fighters are able to pick who they will or won’t fight in an eliminator, it makes a mess of things, doesn’t it?
The WBC wanted Whyte to fight Luis Ortiz in a secondary title eliminator a year ago, but he opted not to take the fight. In looking at it from a logical perspective, Whyte choosing not to fight Ortiz should have been the end of his chances of becoming the immediate mandatory for Wilder. But for Whyte and Hearn to swing around and say that they’re willing to fight Rivas in the eliminator, it looks a little strange, as if they’re picking who they’re willing to fight and not the WBC picking the opponent.
If the WBC agrees to let Whyte’s fight against Rivas be an official eliminator, it might send a message to other fighters and their promoters that it’s okay for them pick who they want to fight in eliminators rather than the sanctioning bodies making the decision.
“We know that the interim world title fight and mandatory position is there, it’s just when, when does that mandatory happen?” said Hearn. “This week, it will be 600 days that he has been WBC No 1, it’s incredible, he deserves justice.
Being ranked #1 isn’t the same thing as being mandatory
Hearn seems to think that Whyte should have been given a title shot just based on him being ranked #1 with the WBC. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works with the sanctioning bodies. If the sanctioning bodies rank a fighter at #1, that doesn’t mean that they automatically become the mandatory challenger. It’s just a ranking. They still need to fight in an eliminator in order to become the mandatory. Problems arise when fighters choose not to, for whatever reason, fight in an eliminator. Whyte had a chance to fight Ortiz in an eliminator, and he opted instead to face other fighters. Had Whyte taken the fight with Ortiz last year, there wouldn’t be any problems.