Crown Prince: Dillian Whyte Interview
Dillian Whyte believes he’s ready to rule the heavyweight kingdom and that a win over Joseph Parker will earn him a crack at Anthony Joshua. Whyte tells Paul Zanon why he’s risking his WBC No. 1 ranking in a perilous fight...
The build-up to heavyweight bouts, particularly at world level, can often be long and tortuous. Not this time. On 7 June, it was announced that British contender Dillian Whyte would be fighting ex-champ Joseph Parker just over seven weeks later, on 28 July, at the O2 Arena in London.
Speaking to Boxing Monthly, Whyte reflected on the speed of the matchmaking and choice of opponent. “It happened really fast,” he said. “Literally, it was organised in about two days. Parker wasn’t on the radar. We wasn’t even looking at him. We thought: ‘OK, he’s just lost. Maybe he’ll have one more fight and then go for someone [highly ranked].’ But he said to his team that he wanted to go straight in at the top level again. He must have seen something about me and thought: ‘I can beat this guy,’ and decided to take the fight. I’ve got respect for him, because there was no messing about. That’s good. That’s what heavyweight boxing is missing nowadays — that level of top contenders willing to go into battle.”
“Belts and world titles are good, but some fights don’t need titles. Some fights are career-progression fights and this is one of them.
“In the early days, everyone would fight everyone. Look at when George Foreman fought Ron Lyle. There was no title on the line and that was a hell of a fight. That’s what I want to be in, great fights. I can’t just sit around waiting for world titles. I need to be active, but in the right fights. I don’t want to fight nobodies and journeymen, where there’s a good chance I’ll win the fight before I step in the ring. The fans don’t want to see that. They know what level I’m at.”
Parker went the full 12 rounds with Anthony Joshua in his last fight but Whyte was not overly impressed. “He’s got good hand speed, but I think he’s a little bit gun shy,” the Brixton fighter said. “He plays it a little bit safe at times. He was in the biggest fight of his career. The fight where he should have been taking some chances. I felt he didn’t really show that ambition and drive to take the titles from Joshua.”
Whyte is in no mood for taking prisoners come fight night. “I’m always looking for the knockout, but if he brings the same ambition as for the Joshua fight and comes to move around and box, I might have to dance with him for a few rounds,” Whyte said. “But I’ll still be looking to put him away. It would be a good statement to the other heavyweights.
“I think the loss is going to motivate him because he probably felt that he let himself down and needs to prove himself now and show his true potential. It will motivate him to go that little bit harder and go that extra mile, I reckon. He probably thinks: ‘I just lost to one of the best fighters in the world, so I’ve got nothing to fear’. That’s what’s probably spurred him on to fight me. To prove it to himself and beat me. We’ll see about that.”
While Whyte is the number one WBC contender, he isn’t focusing on a fight with Deontay Wilder. “Deontay Wilder is the more beatable fight, but he’s not my priority,” Whyte said. “I want to fight AJ. If we fight another 10 times, there’s a good chance it’s going to be a war. A proper scrap.”
Tyson Fury is also looking towards a meeting with Joshua but Whyte feels the former champion has a long way to go in his comeback, although he wasn’t too critical of Fury’s performance against Sefer Seferi. “That fight is what it is,” Whyte said matter-of-factly. “Tyson looked terrible in there for the first three rounds, but he knows that himself. Then he started to find his feet again and sharpened up a bit. He’s not ready for those big fights yet. He’s way off from fighting top contenders. He’s done the right thing starting at this level.”
Whyte, a former sparring partner of Fury’s, said that he could be in the mix for a showdown with the Manchester giant. “We offered them the fight for September, but they want more learning fights, which I understand,” Whyte said. “At the end of the day, they don’t want to take any risky fights too soon — and I’m risky for any heavyweight.
“He’s been off for a while and it’s going to take him a while to get back to where he was. But in three or four fights’ time, if he thinks he’s ready enough and wants to have a fight with me, then I’m ready. In the meantime, I’ve got bigger fish to chase, like Parker, Wilder, Joshua and Povetkin.”
Whyte fired a warning shot in Parker’s direction. “Train hard, prepare yourself properly and be ready,” Whyte said. “You’ve had your time, won a world title, then handed it on a plate to Joshua in Cardiff. Now it’s my time to get a shot at the title.”