1000 days – The myth surrounding the Dillian Whyte Mandatory position

The mandatory position, in its most basic form, is there to prevent challengers from being avoided by the champions. Like everything else in boxing though, nothing is basic. The governing bodies all have slightly different rules when it comes to mandatories, but the premise is this. The champion must defend his belt against a nominated mandatory challenger within a time frame (usually twelve months) of the challenger being designated the mandatory position. To become mandatory a fighter must fill one of the following requirements, firstly they could win a title eliminator. Secondly, they could maintain a high enough ranking for a sustained length of time, then the governing body could assign them as a mandatory challenger. Another way is to unify a weight division, then upon changing weight divisions a fighter can find themself automatically assigned as the mandatory challenger in his new division. There a probably more, but the basic rule is, if you’re good enough and beat enough highly ranked fighters you will get your chance.

The WBC, as the other governing bodies, have specific rules on the subject of mandatories. They state the following ‘ All WBC champions shall make at least one (1) mandatory defense per year unless an exception is granted by the WBC in its sole discretion.

If this is the case then how is it possible that Dillian Whyte has, according to some reports, waited almost 1000 days for his mandatory title fight. The truth is he hasn’t.

On the 28th of October 2017, Dillian fought and defeated the Nordic Nightmare Robert Helenius and was awarded the WBC Silver Heavyweight title. This promoted Whyte to number one contender in the division. I believe this is where the misunderstanding stems from. Number one contender doesn’t mean mandatory challenger, as stated earlier, boxing isn’t that simple. In fact, it was Dominic Breazeale who, in November 2017, defeated Erik Molina in a title eliminator, who was made mandatory. In the same month, Deontay Wilder fulfilled his twelve-monthly mandatory defence requirement by defeating Bermane Stiverne. This means that, unless an exception was granted, Deontay Wilder would have to face Dominic Breazeale by November 2018.

However, as is common in modern boxing, a ‘Superfight’ would take precedence over the mandatory defence and in December 2018 Deontay Wilder would face the British heavyweight Tyson Fury. In a sensational bout which saw the Brit win most rounds but suffer two knockdowns the fight was declared a draw. The bout was so thrilling that both camps agreed to a rematch, the WBC agreed and Dominic Breazeale would be informed that his mandatory title shot would have to wait. The rematch negotiations would cease when Tyson Fury, not long back from a lengthy layoff, decided he would fight a different opponent next as opposed to the earlier agreed immediate rematch. This meant that Deontay Wilder was free to face his mandatory obligation, Dominic Breazeale.

On the 18th of May 2019 Breazeale would receive his obligated title fight, a fight that wouldn’t see the second round. In typical fashion, Wilder destroyed his outmatched opponent and in doing so rendered the WBC Heavyweight mandatory position vacant. Two months later, Whyte would face undefeated Oscar Rivas in an interim title bout, the winner would be declared mandatory to Wilders crown. In a thrilling bout which saw Whyte visit the canvas, a winner was declared via a unanimous decision, the Brit was now in the position he had longed for, for so long. Dillian Whyte WBC Mandatory July 20th 2019 this would mean, unless an exception was granted, Dillian would get his long-awaited shot by the end of July 2020. As previously mentioned though, boxing is never that simple.

His title shot would have to wait, this time due to suspension following a failed A sample on a drug test. The sample provided prior to Whytes action packed win over Rivas failed at the lab. Whyte would maintain his innocence, and as is his rights he requested the B sample be tested. Whilst awaiting the results on the B sample the WBC promoted fellow Brit, Tyson Fury to mandatory position, a move which puzzled everyone including Fury.

Whytes B sample tested clear, his boxing suspension lifted BUT Fury now held the mandatory decision. Whyte would be promoted back to mandatory once Fury and Wilder had fought in their much-antiipated rematch. The pair would meet in February 2020. The fight was fireworks, in stark contrast to their first meeting this bout would be a one-sided beating from beginning to end. The Gypsy King employed an unfamiliar all-out attack game plan, a game plan that took everyone, including Wilder by surprise. The fight wouldn’t see the scorecards, Wilders corner would throw in the towel and it was Fury who scored a truly remarkable victory over the long-standing champion.

With that fight complete, Dillian Whyte was reinstated as WBC Heavyweight Mandatory, and as such SHOULD receive his obligatory title shot by February 2021. Whether he will or not remains to be seen, talk of a super fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury has the potential to scupper his plans. No matter which way you look at it Whyte hasn’t been mandatory for the 1000 days as some reports suggest. By politics, circumstance, and drug testing he has been the mandatory for less than a year, and until that milestone passes he is in no position to read anyone the riot act.

David Corner