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1,000+ DAYS AS WBC NUMBER 1 CHALLENGER
Whyte is finally in sight of his Heavyweight title shot, with just a few months now between him and Tyson fury if all goes well. However, Whyte has to get past Povetkin first and his recent split with trainer Mark Tibbs could threaten to derail him.
A few months ago, before the travel bans came into play, Whyte made the decision to drive over and spend his final week preparing for the Povetkin fight in Portugal. The fight was originally scheduled for May and the idea was that Tibbs would join him that week and the two would finish off the camp together. Then the fight was postponed until July and Whyte and his team made the decision to stay put and complete a full camp in Portugal.
The big problems arose when it became clear that as a result of the restrictions, Tibbs was not going to be able to fly out at all. With the Povetkin fight now only one month away, Whyte has been training without his head coach and as had to officially split with Tibbs after their prolonged break.
How much of an effect could this have?
At this high level, any changes in routine and could have disastrous effects. Many sportsmen are known to be superstitious, finicky, and pretty sensitive when it comes to their preparation. Luckily, Whyte is well-known for being a no-nonsense type guy who is happy to get on with it amidst all sorts of conditions. He’s less the highly tuned F1 car and more of a tank.
Despite Whyte’s tough personality, not having Tibbs with him will surely be playing on his mind. He’s also shown he’s not impervious to being thrown off his game; for his fight against Mariusz Wach last December he famously weighed in at a career-heavy 271lbs, blaming his weight gain on stress.
He’s been with Tibbs since 2016 and since then his career has gone from strength to strength. Following his only career loss to Anthony Joshua, Tibbs was instrumental in rebuilding Whyte and helping him improve technically. The improvements Tibbs has engineered are easily visible if you watch any of Whyte’s performances from before 2016 and compare them to his most recent fights.
Whyte is aware of this and hs said “Mark came into my team four years ago and has helped turn me into the world-class boxer that I am today. Mark is a great trainer and I will always be grateful to him and his dad for all they have done.” So, without that huge influence by his side, it will be interesting to see how he performs in one of the biggest and most challenging fights of his career.
A leaner and more dangerous figure
Whyte has said he’s going to look very different to when he fought Mariusz Wach, saying he had “40 pounds to lose from my last fight so I have been working to lose it”. As he weighed in at 271lbs against Wach and assuming he walks around at about 280lbs, which we think is about right for Whyte, he’d be targeting a solid 230-240lbs. He looked fantastic at 246lbs against Dereck Chisora and was able to move fantastically at that size. A slightly leaner Whyte then, who has never been completely chiseled, will still be able to maintain all of his power at 240lbs but would likely be much faster on his feet.
Whyte faces Povetkin on August 22nd, in what promises to be an absolute war. Both men are extremely dangerous and have a lot to gain, with the winner becoming Tyson Fury’s WBC mandatory. What makes this extra interesting is that Whyte and Povetkin both have the same big shot in their arsenal, the left hook.
While each man throws it differently, they both have a reputation for favoring it and being able to put men down with it. Povetkin likes to shift his weight forward onto his left foot and sink lower, he then explodes up and forward like a piston as he fires off his lead left. The way he uses it as he’s coming forward puts all of his bodily momentum behind it, which explains how he can be so dangerous despite being one of the lighter Heavyweights.
Whyte instead uses his left hook to counter. He’s got extremely fast reflexes and good accuracy, which helps him land it from the front or back foot. Whyte waits for his opponent to throw any punch with their right hand, though hooks and jabs are better as they obscure his opponent’s vision. As soon as the punch lands on Whyte’s high guard, he reacts and throws the left hook into the opening left by their extended right arm, giving him wide access to their chin. It’s a devastating punch that has put down both Parker and Chisora, and almost Anthony Joshua in 2016.
Fury after Povetkin
If Whyte does beat Povetkin it will be a huge step for him, as there will finally be nothing separating him from his WBC title shot. This coming February would see him challenge Fury, which will be the biggest, hardest, and potentially most rewarding fight of his career to date. Fury represents a completely different challenge to anything Whyte has faced before.
Fury has an extreme reach advantage over Whyte and is one of the best movers north of 175lbs. For his part Whyte has already figured out a plan for Fury, saying he will work the head and bodily relentlessly, pushing the pressure with combos and heavy shots. Whyte says Wilder failed because he was looking for the one-hit KO, whereas Whyte wants to wear Fury down and slow him before looking to finish him in the later rounds. It’s a good plan and to be honest, it’s curious that targeting Fury’s body is something few of his opponents have made their strategy yet. It’s well known in boxing that body shots drain a fighter’s endurance and energy levels, which is why many of the more maneuverable fighters have come unstuck as a result of this tactic. As he’s so tall and broad, Fury’s body is a massive target, especially as his head movement and evasion is so fluid.
We’re not sure about Whyte’s chances against Fury if we’re being honest, but we like his game plan and his confidence that he has Fury figured out. Before that, he’ll have to prove that the departure from Mark Tibbs hasn’t hurt him in any way by taking out Povetkin. Come August 22nd the fight will be close, we have Whyte taking it by stoppage in the mid-rounds. However, as we’ve already detailed Whyte’s difficult circumstances, he will have to find a way to rid himself of any doubt first.