Hearn: ‘Whyte vs. Povetkin will be without live audience in July or August’

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn has confirmed that he’ll be staging the heavyweight bash between WBC interim belt holder Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin without a live audience in late July or early August.

The fight will lose money from loss of a live gate, says Hearn, but he’ll be looking to cut costs by limiting the undercard fights.

It’s unfortunate, but that’s perhaps the only way that the Whyte-Povetkin can fight can make up for the lost revenue that generates.

Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) is in a tough position because if he’s the WBC mandatory, and he’s expected to challenge for the title in 2021.

We could see Whyte face Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, or Anthony Joshua. Whoever emerges with the WBC belt by 2021 will need to face Whyte, as long as he defeats Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs).

Dillian battles Povetkin behind closed doors

“Whyte vs. Povetkin is one of the fights we are planning to stage in the early part of the return, it will take place behind closed doors,” said Hearn to Sky Sports Boxing. “Dillian wasn’t joking about fighting in a car park.”

Whyte, 32, is taking a massive risk in facing former WBA heavyweight champion Povetkin, as this is a big step up from the guys he’s been facing.

In Whyte’s last fight, he had to labor to defeat 6’7 1/2″ Mariusz Wach on December 7 in Saudi Arabia. Whyte won the battle by a 10 round unanimous decision by the scores 97-93, 97-93, and 97-93.

The big Polish fighter Wach showed that you do a lot of damage even in losing. He stood in there and took Whyte’s best shots, and nailed him with many bruising shots.

Having a fighter as big as Wach hitting Whyte all night long was ultimately a grueling fight for him. In some ways, Whyte took more punishment against Wach than he did in his seventh-round knockout to Anthony Joshua in December 2015.

Povetkin has a real chance of winning

Whyte cannot afford to take that kind of a sustained beating against Povetkin because he won’t have anything left when it comes time for him to challenge for the WBC title. A loss for Whyte against Povetkin will result in his WBC interim title and mandatory status evaporating.

It’ll be back to square one for Whyte with him needing to work his way slowly back to a mandatory status, which took him four years to accomplish. It’s doubtful that Whyte will even bother to go the mandatory route again if he loses to Povetkin because it takes too long, and he’s getting older now.

It’s far better for Whyte to pressure Hearn to set him up with a title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua or WBC champ Tyson Fury. What we saw in Whyte’s performance against Wach is he lacks the talent to work his way to a mandatory position again.

He might not have even made it this time had he agreed to face Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz in 2018 when the World Boxing Council ordered the two fighters to fight in a WBC title eliminator. Whyte chose not to and undermined his efforts in becoming mandatory.

Whyte will lose a lot of revenue

“A lot of people think it is difficult for bigger fights to happen behind closed doors,” said Hearn. “I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet. But we have to come back with a bang. Whyte vs. Povetkin…is a fight that I believe we will see at the end of July or early-August.

Whyte vs. Povetkin would have sold a massive amount of tickets for their fight. That’s going to be difficult for the two to lose out on the gate revenue, but they don’t have much choice.

Pandemic has made fighting in front of live audiences an impossibility right now unless a foreign country was willing to stage the Whyte-Povetkin clash. It’s not that big of a fight for a country like Saudi Arabia to want to stage it over there.

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