email@example.com Dillian Whyte puts his high world ranking on the line again tomorrow night – with opponent Oscar Rivas the one who clearly has most to gain from their heavyweight scrap.
The 31-year-old Brixton boxer, nicknamed The Body Snatcher, has been ranked number one by the WBC for ages but still a mandated shot at world champion Deontay Wilder has eluded him.
Whyte has cracked on with knockouts of Lucas Browne and Dereck Chisora along with points victories over Joseph Parker and Robert Helenius.
And the risk-reward for his latest assignment at Greenwich’s 02 Arena looks heavily slanted in the favour of Rivas. The Colombian is 10th in the WBC ratings – and causing an upset in South London would propel him into the mix.
Rivas won gold at the 2007 Rio Olympics and beat Andy Ruiz Jr – who recently stunned Anthony Joshua to win most of the world titles – and former European champion Kubrat Pulev while in the amateur ranks.
Eddie Hearn has promoted Whyte for at least the last four years and has pushed for his meeting with Rivas to at least be a final eliminator for American knockout specialist Wilder, or even for the interim belt.
Whyte has raged about the politics in the sport which have denied him getting the opportunity to win one of the major versions of the title.
But he claims to be unworried about whether a version of the WBC belt is at stake this weekend.
“I’m going into a fight,” said Whyte. “If it is for a title, then great. If not then whatever – it is still a fight.
“I’ve had to have that mindset, in life and in boxing. They told me years ago I was number one and I’m still to fight Deontay Wilder.
“That’s why I keep fighting these dangerous guys.
“Rivas has got 18 knockouts in 26 wins. He has beaten Andy Ruiz and Pulev in the amateurs. He is a top, top guy.
“What would you rather me do, fight some cabbage or have a proper fight? I could do what Tyson Fury did and fight Tom Schwarz – con the public. I could find some guy who is 26-0 and had fought no-one. There’s lots of them. You can pick and build them into what they ain’t.
“Rivas is a young and hungry guy. He is dangerous. He is going to come forward and throw a hell of a lot of punches. He is undefeated.
“Fury didn’t want to fight him and neither did Joshua. So I’ve got to be the ‘can man’ again.”
Whyte has just the one loss on his record – knocked out by Joshua when the pair met for the vacant British title in 2015. But the latter – who has made millions from the sport – is no longer seen as the number one big man on the planet after crumbling so badly to Ruiz Jr in New York.
But that also has a knock-on effect for Whyte.
Joshua now rematches with the Mexican towards the end of this year. Fury and Wilder are set for a second installment in February – with the former claiming there is a clause for an immediate third meeting. None of that is good news if you have patiently bided your time.
Whyte has not been happy to get easy touches, but then again that type of opposition would not warrant being pay-per-view on Sky Sports Box Office. Tomorrow will be his fourth showing on that channel.
“I had seven amateur fights,” said Whyte.
“So fighting these guys and beating them, who have had a lot of amateur fights, that’s me piggybacking off their experience.
“I’ve been boxing guys who have almost been boxing for 30 years and I’ve been boxing for 11 years.”
Whyte has also improved his training regime – basing himself at Loughborough University for his camps.
He hooked up with trainer Mark Tibbs after his defeat to Joshua.
“Training up here is really good, it’s the best place that I’ve ever trained,” said Whyte. “Being here, everything is under one roof and they’re looking after me, tracking everything that I’m doing and seeing where I’m at.
“They’re very realistic with where I should be, where I am and how hard I need to work and stuff.
“Me and Mark get on well. We have a good relationship. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and he has got a lot of respect for me.
“Training camp is never a struggle with Mark.
“At the start it can be a bit glitchy here and there but once we get moving it just falls into place.”
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