Beneath the obvious top table championship triumvirate of Tyson Fury (lineal), Anthony Joshua (WBA, WBO, IBF) and Deontay Wilder (WBC), Dillian Whyte clearly occupies the fourth berth, in a heavyweight division that is as fascinating as it has been for some years.
A ranking unanimously concurred by BoxRec, The Ring Magazine, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and in the opinion of pretty much every learned boxing fan.
He is of course also highly ranked by the official governing bodies themselves, with the WBC and WBO positioning him at #1 and the WBA at #4.
His rematch knockout victory over a rejuvenated Dereck Chisora back in December 2018, was the fistic icing on a lineal sequence of victories that are unmatched by any other active heavyweight.
His besting of Chisora followed a dogged and exciting points defeat of former WBO champion Joseph Parker, a chilling KO of former WBA champion of sorts Lucas Browne and a shutting out of contender Robert Helenius which followed a keep busy swat away of Malcolm Tann in Lincoln which had itself followed his first edging of Chisora on a split points nod.
It is a sequence which may actually be the ideal proving ground and an invaluable education for a fighter who has been learning on the job pretty much since the opening bell of his professional boxing debut against Tayar Mehmed at a leisure centre in the South East of England back in 2011.
Prior to that, Whyte had held the BIKMA British super-heavyweight kick boxing title and the European K1 title, earning a 20-1 record in the sport, along with a 1-0 MMA ledger in the shape of a 12 second KO win at UCMMA’s 2008 event in London.
He is what Tyson Fury would describe as ‘a true fighting man’.
“Boxing is a bit of a happy accident fro me. In 2008, I got to the stage in my kickboxing career where I had to learn to use my hands a little bit better. So I sought out a boxing coach.” He wrote in his April column for talkSPORT.com, “Then I started sparring the likes of David Haye, Tyson Fury, David Price and I wasn’t getting knocked out. That sparked something in me.”
Dillian Whyte’s growing popularity has been built on his lack of pretension, accessibility and sheer willingness to fight rather than manoeuvre the commercial chess pieces and political moving parts around the board of the sport.
He also knows his worth, and in turning down an opportunity to face Anthony Joshua which would have taken place this month, in favor of playing the longer game, he may just end up the long-term winner and a deserving one.
In the recent, excellent BBC Newsbeat documentary ‘Dillian Whyte: Fighting to be a Champ” he explained, “You can’t offer Fury £15m (to face Joshua) and me £4m. Fury’s not three times the draw I am. I know what value I bring. Of course I believe I can become world champion. Of course I believe I can beat him (Joshua).”
Outside the Joshua rematch, which this time would of course be to compete for the alphabetti of titles, Whyte’s more likely route to a title shot is with the WBC as both their #1 ranked challenger and holder of the silver title.
But to turn silver into the gold, Dillian Whyte, whilst remaining pragmatic, has understandably been starting to see a little red. A final, final WBC eliminator with the American Dominic Breazele was pulled by the WBC only for the lower ranked Breazele to then be announced as Deontay Willder’s next challenger. This fight will take place in May.
“The WBC is a joke,” said Dillian. “Boxing is a funny sport; it makes no sense. These things only happen in boxing.”
Longer term, the WBC does still seem to represent the best route to a title shot however and a Wilder versus Whyte encounter would be something really special.
A March meeting between Diilian and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman in London seems to have cleared the air a little. And whilst nothing is sure in boxing until the two fighters are in the ring, we would expect that the Wilder fight was agreed in principle and Whyte’s mandatory status rubber-stamped, although this remains unconfirmed at the time of writing.
What is for sure, is that Dillian, will still likely be facing a sterner test than the big three above him. July 13th has been slated as a likely Wembley Arena date for his next fight, with Eddie Hearn telling SKY sports “He wants to have a proper fight and that’s Dillian Whyte all over.”
So, don’t be surprised if a dangerous man in the opposite corner is called Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin or Kubrat Pulev, right at the point where he is probably only one Tom Schwarz like workout victory away from that elusive tilt at a title.
And this is why Dillian Whyte is so massively popular right now and rightly so.
Follow G.E. Simon on Twitter @GESimonsBoxing