By nearly every measure, Dillian Whyte is a giant of a heavyweight who has put together a superb career.
He’s 6-foot-4, or an inch taller than Muhammad Ali was, and fights at roughly 250 pounds, or 35 more than Ali at his peak. Whyte is 28-2 with 19 knockouts and avenged one of his two defeats by destroying Alexander Povetkin his last time out.
He’ll make roughly $8 million Saturday — and possibly quite more — when he challenges Tyson Fury at Wembley Stadium for the WBC and lineal heavyweight championship.
Fury, though, is 6-9, 275 pounds and makes Whyte seem puny by comparison. And with Fury’s outsized personality, he can overwhelm Whyte.
But this fight wouldn’t be as big as it is if Whyte weren’t standing across from Fury.
Whyte has largely avoided the promotion, angry at a number of snubs, including being guaranteed just 20 percent of the purse by the WBC. He’s appealed that and could wind up making as much as 30 percent if he wins the arbitration out of the $40 million Top Rank and Queensbury paid in a purse bid.
Normally, the U.S. pay-per-view drives the show, but in this fight, it’s the British pay-per-view. Fury is the biggest star in British boxing, but Whyte, too, is a significant figure on the U.K. scene and has a massive following. The pay-per-view in the U.K. could hit close to 2 million, but even if it comes up a half-million short, it’s going to drive a massive amount of revenue.
Whyte is a proud man and recoils at the thought that the record European crowd and the massive potential PPV numbers are all Fury’s doing.
“Listen, this division is not the Tyson Fury show,” Whyte said. “Everybody says, ‘Tyson Fury this. Tyson Fury that.’ If Tyson Fury was such a big star, he never sold out any of the fights against Deontay Wilder. That’s a fact. Tyson Fury’s never sold out. This is not the Tyson Fury show. This fight sold out because me and Tyson Fury [are fighting]. Wilder is this big superstar and none of those fights sold out. Let’s be honest about it: It’s not just the 'Tyson Fury Show.' It’s the 'Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte Show.'”
Whyte’s decision to mostly be silent throughout the promotion has largely ceded the stage to Fury, who has rarely in his professional career met a camera or a microphone that he didn’t like.
Fury’s taken it a step further this time and has been insisting he’ll retire after the fight. Boxers say that all the time and few of them ever follow through on it, though Fury may be one of the rare ones who does.
But Whyte’s silence has placed Fury even more into the spotlight and perhaps obscured the legitimate threat White poses.
“It’s hard to clap with one hand,” Whyte said. “You need two hands to clap.”
Fury is a prohibitive favorite, and is -650 to win at BetMGM. Whyte is +450.
Even Fury, though, doesn’t expect an easy time against Whyte.
“Anyone who says this will be an easy fight for me doesn’t know Dillian Whyte,” Fury said. “I fully expect to win, because that’s what I do, but Whyte is a very accomplished man.”
Whyte said he got into boxing, as so many young boys have done, because he was getting into trouble and fighting in the streets. But unlike most, he stuck with it and has dedicated his life to it.
His only losses were to Anthony Joshua and Povetkin. He’s scored two wins over Dereck Chisora and has also beaten Joseph Parker, Lucas Browne and Robert Helenius, among others.
Whyte’s problem on Saturday isn’t unique. He’s fighting a giant who has excellent boxing skills and surprising quickness. Fury’s also a highly accurate puncher and he’s hit increasingly harder, particularly since joining forces in 2020 with SugarHill Steward.
Whyte has to avoid getting clipped by a big shot, which will be particularly difficult since he’ll be fighting at a different range than he’s used to do.
The two have sparred before and neither is willing to share the details. Fury said he suspects Whyte has improved greatly since their time together, but added, “I know I have.”
Whyte seemed to intimate that he’s had some kind of success in sparring against Fury. He grinned and said, “Ask Tyson Fury,” when quizzed about how the sparring sessions went.
Whyte will show up on Saturday. He won’t be frozen or overcome by stage fright. If he’s beaten, it won’t be because he’s caught in the moment. It will be because he’s fighting the best heavyweight in the world.
It’s a tall order for any fighter. Whyte noted, “It’s one of them fights where you have to keep adapting, keep changing.”
Whyte, though, is no babe in the woods. If this is indeed Fury’s last fight, he’s going to go out with a bang. Dillian Whyte will make certain of that.