Whyte-Povetkin II: Extra leg room, extra weight and the task that awaits Dillian Whyte in Gibraltar

Declan Taylor reports from Gibraltar on key factors that could decide Dillian Whyte’s fate ahead of crucial rematch with Alexander Povetkin

WHEN Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin took the scales on an elevated platform in the middle of the Gibraltar Rugby Football Union artificial field on Friday afternoon, more questions were raised than answers.

In one of the strangest promotions of this generation of British boxing, Whyte lived on a luxury super yacht for a week while Povetkin settled into a hotel on the shore ahead of their scheduled rematch here in Gibraltar on Saturday. evening.

Eddie Hearn has revealed the promotion cost more than £ 250,000 due to the bureaucracy and arrangements to host a show overseas during a global pandemic. He even chartered a jumbo jet to ship hunters, trainers and staff from a private terminal in Stansted on Wednesday afternoon. Let the record show that Povetkin had a little more legroom in an emergency exit seat.

A key theme of the fight week has been the Russian’s overall health, who is the A-side due to his superb knockout of Whyte in their initial rematch last August. However, the rematch had to be postponed when Povetkin contracted COVID-19, which put him in hospital earlier this year.

A virus that affects the respiratory system is not quite ideal for a professional athlete in a sprinting sport like boxing as experts are still trying to bring the so-called ‘Long Covid’ under control. Whyte, for his part, suggested that Povetkin was lying about all of this. “Who knows? If he was sick, I’m glad he’s okay,” Whyte said at the final press conference at a botanical garden on Thursday. “But if he wasn’t, then fuck- the.”

Povetkin has never looked really good, but as an Olympic gold medalist and multiple world champion Big ‘Sasha’ is clearly suited for his purpose. But what would Covid have done for his chances here if he really had had it? Whyte suggested it was all an attempt at mind games and he was really preparing for the rematch with an extended training camp.

It didn’t look exactly like what it had been on the scale. He was downright meaty and weighed four and a quarter pounds more than he was when he delivered the hellish upercut on Hearn’s lawn last summer. Still, for a man of his size, the increase is quite minor and any effect on his speed and ability to land end-of-fight shots will be negligible. For context, he weighed a pound heavier when he drew with Michael Hunter in December 2019, but nearly a half a stone lighter in Anthony Joshua’s fight a year earlier.

He is, too, now 41 years old and Saturday night will be the 40e bout a professional career that began in 2005. It’s also worth noting that while he was not seriously injured at any point in the initial bout with Whyte, he was knocked down twice before the finish. He sent punishment to the head and body, so it’s still unclear what the long-term effects might be.

Whyte, on the other hand, looked torn and ready. He is five pounds lighter than seven months ago thanks to an extensive training camp in Portugal. At 247 1 / 4lbs, he’s at his lightest since knocking out Dereck Chisora ​​in December 2018. Indeed, his insistence on nothing disrupting his camp is the main reason the fight is here.

When Portugal was placed on the red list, it meant the fighting in Britain would result in a 10-day period of isolation in a government hotel for Whyte and his team upon their return. “That would have finished me,” he said. Gibraltar increased, driven by car from Portugal.

Whyte says everything has been perfect at camp, he even suggested that team members now monitor the acidity levels in his water. Everything that happened in Portugal seems to have worked. And, although lighter than last time around, Whyte still has nearly 20 pounds over his Russian opponent.

The 32-year-old also knows that a second straight loss will destroy any hope of a world title fight, given the tree-top traffic jam involving Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. already. Obviously that kind of pressure pushed him more than ever to training camp this time around.

But what will it have done for his body? He’s had shoulder issues in the past and we won’t know until fight night how such a long and exhaustive camp could influence an already fascinating encounter.

Another small vignette is the addition to Whyte’s team of Harold Knight, best known for his work alongside Lennox Lewis. “ The Shadow ” helped organize Lewis’ revenge missions against Hasim Rahman (immediate) and Oliver McCall (not so immediate), so there are simple parallels to be drawn to the current situation Whyte is facing.

But will Knight have been able to implement any major changes since arriving in October, and how will he fit into a squad that already has a head coach in Xavier Miller? Any mixed post could prove costly against a man who will be very confident after the Knockout contender of the year last summer.

Speaking of which, what will the memories – or rather the lack of – of that uppercut affect Whyte? Will he be shy? Whyte himself laughed at this suggestion. “Look, I was stabbed one week working at the gate, then I went to work at the same gate the following weekend.

“I don’t think ‘oh no, I got stabbed over there last week, I’m not going to go to work. I just introduced myself to work with my patch. Where I’m from, you don’t have time to be shy. If you are shy or hesitant, you get killed.

Gibraltar is waiting.

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