By Barry Holbrook: Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) wants a world title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in 2020 following his harder than expected 10 round unanimous decision win over Mariusz Wach (35-6, 19 KOs) last Saturday night at the Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Whyte vs. Wach most entertaining fight on the card
Wach and Whyte stole the show as by far the most entertaining fight on Saturday’s Matchroom card. The co-feature bout between heavyweight Michael Hunter and Alexander Povetkin was an entertaining contest, but not to the same extent as the Whyte vs. Wach match.
Whyte’s right eye was swollen badly by the late rounds, and it looked in danger of closing. It was a good thing for Whyte that this wasn’t a 12 round bout, because his eye might have closed from the power shots from Wach.
The Polish fighter Wach was impressive with his toughness, and the way that he started to walk Dillian down in the second half of the contest. He was catching Whyte with uppercuts and hooks to the head, and making him think twice about throwing.
Whyte hurt in the 8th
In the 8th round, Wach stunned Whyte with a big left hook that knocked him off balance. He looked shaky.
The 271 lb Whyte was supposed to dominate and stop the 39-year-old Wach, but he ended up getting caught into a grueling 10 round war with the 6’7 12″ former world title challenger.
Whyte, 31, won the fight, but he looked beaten up afterwards, and it wasn’t the kind of performance that suggests that he would do well against Joshua in a rematch.
The judges scored it 98-93, 97-93, 97-93.
Whyte struggled with Wach’s size, power and toughness
You can’t blame Whyte’s performance entirely on his weight or his five-month layoff, because those weren’t huge factors that you could blame for this effort. Wach kind of exposed Whyte as not having the defensive skills or the engine to dominate against a guy that is firing back at him.
The way that Wach mixed up the power on his punches gave Whyte a lot of problems, because he was stunned a number of times inthe fight. Wach lulled Whyte to sleep in the early rounds when he was throwing slow shots with moderate power. In the second half of the fight, Wach began putting heat on his power shots, and Whyte did all he could to survive the championship rounds.
All in all, Whyte didn’t perform at a level that he needed for him to impress. Had this been Joshua or Deontay Wilder sharing the ring with Whyte, he likely would have been easily beaten. It would be a good idea for Whyte to forget about Wilder, and focus on getting the bigger payday against Joshua. It’s too risky for Whyte to face Wilder after a performance like we saw from him against Wach.
Whyte targeting Joshua
“I got thumbed in the eye a couple of times,” said Whyte to IFL TV in talking about his win over Wach. “It was a good test against Mariusz. I did whatever it took to get the win. It’s good for me to be back fighting.
“He did exactly what I thought he should have done in making it long and boring, drag the fight out, keep moving and keep his jab going,” said Whyte in talking about Josua’s win over Ruiz Jr.’
“That was my pre-fight prediction. He probably could have engaged a bit more at times, but you have to understand, the man had knocked him out, and he wanted to get his belt back. So well done for him. Ruiz really couldn’t do anything with him, could he? Whenever Joshua tried to mix, that’s when he had his best success.
“Once Joshua started moving, he was lost. It was very important. British boxing is back on the map. AJ has got the belts back, and hopefully I’ll get a rematch at some point next year,” said Whyte.
A rematch with Joshua is fine idea for Whyte in 2020. Dillian gave Joshua all he could handle for 2 rounds in their fight in 2015, and he might have won had he not injured his shoulder.
Joshua has 2 mandatory commitments due in 2020
If Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is willing to let Whyte face Joshua next year, that would be an excellent contest. However, Joshua has two mandatory defenses due in 2020 for his IBF and WBO heavyweight titles. If he plans on keeping both, then those two defenses will eat up Joshua’s entire year.
Joshua would need to defend against Oleksandr Usyk and Kubrat Pulev. The Usyk fight would be one that’s worthwhile for Joshua to take, but not the Pulev match. As such, Joshua should consider vacating the IBF belt, and focusing on satisfying his WBO mandatory against Usyk.
Joshua will need to vacate some belts – Whyte
“They should reinstate me already to be honest,” said Whyte about the WBC. “The same way they took my mandatory status away. They should reinstate me. I should have been immediately reinstated. I think he’s going to drop a few belts. He must be,” said Whyte about Joshua needing to drop some of the three titles he won back against Ruiz.
“He can’t fight three mandatory’s in one year. I don’t know. Let’s see,” said Whyte when asked about the likelihood of him fighting Joshua in 2020. “Hopefully, we can get it on. Yeah, of course, I got options. I’m still one of the biggest stars in world boxing,” said Whyte.
The way that Joshua values his world titles, he’s probably not going to want to vacate any of them next year. He wants to unify the heavyweight division by facing WBC champion Deontay Wilder. If Joshua vacates his IBF or WBO belt, he would be making his job tougher in trying to become the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Whyte wants to lose weight
“I had a long, tough journey in the last six months. I need to be down in the 17s,” said Whyte about his adverse tests from his drug test before his bout with Oscar Rivas last July. UKAD cleared Whyte on Friday, so he’s now cleared to move on. Whyte wants to be reinstated as the interim WBC champion and mandatory to Deontay Wilder. However, the way that Whyte was talking a day after his win over Wach, he doesn’t sound as eager to fight for the WBC now. Whyte is sounding more interested in facing Joshua.
“That’s it. We move on to the next year, and get back in the main stream of boxing. That’s it, man. I’m going to rest a little bit, get back to training, and I’m going to be ready to rock. There’s a lot of people in boxing that stick by me and show me love,” said Whyte.