Dillian Whyte responds to Antonio Tarver’s challenge: “I’d smash him to pieces!”

Once-beaten British heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte returns to action for the second time since his exciting, but losing, December 2015 fight with Anthony Joshua on July 30, when he will face a TBA in Leeds. Whyte spoke to Sky Sports pundit Johnny Nelson at yesterday’s press conference to promote the stacked Leeds show – topped by the hugely popular Josh Warrington against Patrick Hyland and also featuring Luke Campbell in action and Tyrone Nurse against Tommy Coyle – and he spoke of the problems he has in getting himself a decent fight.

Whyte, 17-1(14) admitted he is in a “tough spot,” as far as fighters see he has no major title and figure, as he put it, “why take the risk?” Whyte says the problem with the heavyweight division today is that no-one wants to risk losing, and as a result the 50-50-type fights are not getting made. “What do I learn facing a guy with 20 losses?” Whyte asked.

But one man who has called out the 28-year-old is none other than former light-heavyweight king Antonio Tarver. Tarver, who has had mixed success at best whilst campaigning as a heavyweight (and was last seen boxing a 12-round draw with Steve Cunningham, only for Tarver to test positive for a banned substance before the fight; Tarver insisting he is innocent) took to Twitter to put his name forward for a fight with Whyte. Nelson asked Whyte about this yesterday and the former British title challenger said he would welcome the fight (although it is almost certainly not going to happen on July 30, if at all – would Tarver get a licence to box in the UK?)

“I’d like to fight at least one legend, one of these guys who came before me,” Whyte said. “And Tarver was a good champion, he knocked out Roy Jones. He probably thinks, with his experience he knows how to beat me. But I would smash him to pieces!”

Tarver may be 47 and largely inactive as of late – just two fights since November of 2013 – but he is as experienced as can be, as Whyte mentioned, he has never been stopped, and he is a tricky southpaw. Tarver would also be, Joshua aside, the biggest name on Whyte’s pro record. If Whyte were indeed to “smash him to pieces,” and score a KO over Tarver, he would be making a pretty big statement. And as Whyte said yesterday, what does he learn facing a guy with 20 losses? Tarver has a good record at 31-6-1(22) and if nothing else he would talk a great fight and the pre-fight press conference and any other media events would be lively and full of colourful trash-talk.

But again, would Tarver get a licence to box in the UK? If he can get one, and as long as Whtye, who wants to remain active, is struggling to get suitable opposition, why not Tarver? The fans would tune in, that’s for sure. And Tarver might just teach the younger man a few things during the fight.