BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dillian Whyte will rematch Alexander Povetkin on March 6 – with the Brixton fighter knowing defeat would blow him out of the world title picture.
The South London heavyweight, 32, was on the receiving end of one of the knockouts of 2020 as he lost his WBC world interim title.
Whyte looked in control as he floored the Russian twice only for a huge left uppercut dropped him for the full count in the fifth round.
The pair were scheduled to meet again in January but Povetkin contracted Covid-19 and needed a period of hospitalisation. Whyte has questioned whether his opponent did have the virus or there were other reasons for the postponement.
“I’m still a bit unsure when one of Russia’s biggest sports stars has Covid and has been in hospital but there is no news about it really.
“If I get covid, or [Anthony] Joshua or [Tyson] Fury did then it would make proper news because we are big sports stars. If he did, then thank god he didn’t die and he’s back and healthy.”
Matchroom Boxing supremo Eddie Hearn has billed the bout – which will be televised on Sky Box Office – as ‘Repeat Or Revenge’. Povetkin will also put the WBC Diamond belt on the line.
Whyte (27-2) instantly activated a rematch clause in the initial contract.
“This is a must-win fight,” he said. “This is the fight of my career – the fight of my life. Everything I’ve been through in my career leads to this moment. I’ve got to go out and prove to people that I am what I say I am and that I’m about what I say I’m about. I’m planning to do that.”
Whyte had been chasing a world title shot before Povetkin produced his upset victory in August.
He had been the long-standing mandatory challenger for American Deontay Wilder.
But Wilder lost his WBC world title as Fury superbly pounded him to pieces a year ago and he has not fought since. Joshua and Fury are set to meet in a blockbuster unification clash this summer.
Whyte said: “There are three fights I definitely want. I want a rematch with AJ, I want to fight Fury and I will 100 per cent fight Wilder at the drop of a hat – any time, any place.
“But right now I’m focused on Povetkin. He is a dangerous guy, as he showed last time. If I can’t stop him then I can’t talk about fighting any of those guys.”
Whyte insists there are no mental scars from his latest reverse.
“I’m very adaptable. Okay I lost, but I did a lot of good things. I just need to make minor adjustments, not change a lot of things.
“A lot of peoples’ mindsets are weak. When they lose they get down and depressed – those are the same people saying it’s too early [to come back]. If I was like them I wouldn’t be in the position I am now, having only had seven amateur fights.
“I am fighting these guys who had 200 amateur fights and beating them – because my mindset is different.”
Bermondsey’s Ted Cheeseman (16-2-1) will face Liverpool’s James Metcalf (21-0) for the vacant British super-welterweight title on the same show.
Cheeseman won a unanimous decision against Sam Eggington in August to claim the IBF International strap.
PHOTOS: MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING
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