Dillian Whyte came through a ninth round knockdown to deservedly claim an assured and intelligent unanimous points victory over Oscar Rivas at The 02 last night. In victory Whyte is now the mandatory challenger for Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt though it remains to be seen when Whyte finally gets his shot at glory. For now though he can bask in the sweet reality that he is improving with every challenge he faces to the point where looks like increasingly like a champion not just a tough and plucky challenger.
Many saw Whyte/Rivas as another 50/50 fight for Whyte and a game Rivas immediately took centre ring forcing the hometown favourite onto the back foot for the first three minutes. However in the second a big right from Whyte shook Rivas and Whyte showed his predatory instinct, pouncing on his wounded opponent with a frenzied attack to finish things early. Rivas though to his credit showed his deep amateur experience and managed to survive the danger period, gathering his senses before the bell rang.
It was clear though that Rivas was now very respectful of Whyte’s power which allowed Whyte to establish his jab and began to control proceedings in a truly classy manner. In fact it looked like he would simply outbox his opponent to the distance before a brutal uppercut from a tenacious Rivas knocked Whyte down onto the ropes. The 02 crowd, still raw from recent heavyweight shocks, held its breath but Whyte showed his own survival skills before receiving a stern telling off in the corner from trainer Mark Tibbs. At that point some may have feared for Whyte as his smooth performance was suddenly severely disrupted however it was perhaps round 10 to 12 that were most impressive from a critical standpoint in regard to Whyte’s performance.
In the face of fighter who had pulled out a late knockout win in his last fight with Byrant Jennings, Whyte simply got back behind his punishing jab and finished the fight the stronger man, whipping some superb shots into the tiring body of Rivas. There would be no dramatic finish like there was versus Joe Parker a year ago as Whyte, in full knowledge he was well ahead on the cards, simply closed the night out in a savvy and professional manner that displayed his huge improvement in the ring since his only loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015. An improvement that he has had to manage on the big stage due to his extremely limited amateur background.
Despite the freshness of his win, many will now look to Whyte’s future as it finally looks as though it will be when not if he will get a title shot at the WBC belt. Though with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury set to meet in early 2020, it will be at least 8 months (and likely another fight in between) before Whyte can get his title shot. In truth though the whole WBC situation is still frustratingly unclear with some predicting that Deontay Wilder will be made ‘franchise’ champion as Canelo Alvarez was earlier this year (I don’t know what the fuck a franchise champion is either before you ask) . And in Whyte’s own words in regard to the ongoing situation ‘in boxing there is a lot of talking and very little action’.
However, what is evident is that Whyte is now every bit the pay-per-view fighter he is now billed as. Before now has often had to brawl his way to victory but Saturday night showcased his development as a boxer, as he dominated a very experienced fighter in Rivas, someone who the other big boys in the division have avoided for some time. Whyte though continues to give the fans the fights they want and in return it’s about time he is given the fight he and his team so desperately want.
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