BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dillian Whyte has turned up the heat on Joseph Parker ahead of their heavyweight clash at Greenwich’s 02 Arena tomorrow night – labelling the former WBO world champion’s last display as “cowardly”.
Brixton puncher Whyte, 30, is seeking a 24th career victory as he waits on a shot at one of the current belt-holders in the division.
And the South Londoner, highly ranked by all the main governing bodies, knows an impressive win over Parker on home turf will only push his name more firmly into the mix.
The New Zealander, 26, lost a clear unanimous points verdict to Watford’s Anthony Joshua in a unification showdown at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in March.
Whyte’s only reverse was a knockout defeat to his fellow Brit in December 2015, but he also rocked AJ. Both fighters have improved since then with Whyte on a seven-bout winning streak.
Parker never traded in the same way with Joshua even though it was clear he was sliding further and further behind on the scorecards.
Whyte said: “His performance was cautious – but also cowardly as well.
“Six or seven rounds in and you are in the home fighter’s country and he is the golden boy. There comes a time when you’ve got to go after it.
“I just feel you were too much of a coward to make that decision. You had been waiting for that opportunity [to unify the belts] your whole life.
“When I fought Joshua my shoulder went in the second round. My coach wanted to pull me out. I could produce medical records – I had an operation two days later.
“He [Parker] wasn’t hurt in the [Joshua] fight but he didn’t make the decision to go after him. He had his whole country over doing the haka – and he let them down.
“He didn’t show the warrior courage and spirit that I expected from where he is from. He didn’t show that tribal instinct and warrior instinct.
“I believe his mindset was to go 12 rounds – that was his victory. He didn’t seem too bothered at the end.”
Parker was on the front foot in a defence of his WBO strap against Hughie Fury in September 2017 but did not show sharp ringcraft against an opponent who never moved out of reverse gear.
He was nowhere near as gung-ho against Joshua but that does not mean the South Auckland man will be quite so reticent in terms of engaging with Whyte.
But Whyte, who puts his WBC title on the line along with hoping to claim the vacant WBO belt, is thinking differently.
He said: “He’s going to run. I’ve had tricky, awkward guys – if he gets on his running shows then I’ll have to get some too. There’s things you can do to slow people down – are you going to move when your ribs are busted? It is a different fight [to Joshua], a different style – I’m an animal.”
Whyte reckons his toughness comes from his upbringing. Not only did he got shot and stabbed when he fell in with the wrong crowd on the street, he was also left to fend for himself in his early years growing up in Jamaica.
“My mum left me when I was two years old to work – she took all the older kids [to London] before me because they can help with other things. I didn’t see her for 11 years. I bounced around from one family to another. My dad is old-school and hard. His mindset is ‘if you’re not dead you are okay’.
“I was going two or three days without eating but it taught me to survive and adapt to different situations at an early age.
“People have always been backing against me and writing me off. But since coming into boxing I have kept swimming and swimming against the waves.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.