Boxing expert Chris Oliver previews Tyson Fury v Dillian Whyte, with the champion fancied to stop a dangerous rival late on at Wembley.
Homecomings don’t come much bigger than Tyson Fury’s at Wembley on Saturday night.
In a bout that sparked a world-record purse bid, ‘The Gypsy King’ defends his WBC belt in front of 94,000 fans against Dillian Whyte in the first ever lineal heavyweight championship fight between two Brits on UK soil.
A lot has changed since Fury last fought on these shores nearly four years ago. He is no longer the comeback kid battling depression and obesity, he’s back on top of the world after conquering America and Deontay Wilder in their epic trilogy.
Much of the pre-fight talk has been about Whyte refusing to do any media engagements and not turning up to the press conference, which may not have been a bad idea given nobody is winning a war of words with the champion. However, it highlights what a draw Fury has become that he has attracted this record-breaking crowd pretty much on his own and that nearly all of them will be there to see him.
It’s not only the build-up that is all about Fury, as how this fight plays out is seemingly also about how the unbeaten belt-holder chooses to approach it. While it seems certain that Whyte will be aggressive from the get-go and look to apply his roughhouse tactics, it’s very much a guessing game as to which version of Fury we will see and that is what makes this such an intriguing event.
The Fury that we became so used to seeing, the one that ended the long reign of Wladimir Klitschko, was one fleet of foot and full of tricks. A skilful switch-hitter, he made full use of his height and reach to make opponents miss and pay with reactions and footwork more akin to a middleweight than a 6’9″ heavyweight.
However, in his last two fights with Wilder, since joining up with trainer SugarHill Steward, the man from Morecambe has been more about seek-and-destroy. Planting his feet and looking to generate more power, Fury’s switch in approach worked the oracle as he stopped Wilder in rounds seven and 11 respectively in their last two encounters.
While that change in tack proved a masterstroke against Wilder, whose notorious power was nullified considerably when pushed backwards, looking to do something similar would play into Whyte’s hands and level the playing the field somewhat. The ‘old’ Fury would have to been fancied to out-fox and outmanoeuvre the flat-footed challenger, but a tear-up is exactly what he wants, and the ‘new’ Fury may just be willing to oblige him.
Whyte a dangerous rival
Despite being available at a top price of 9/2, Whyte is certainly no easy night’s work for anyone and, unlike in the promotion, he will certainly play his part in the fight.
The Brixton resident has waited an awful long time for this shot, having worked his way into the mandatory challenger’s spot with good wins over the likes of former champion Joseph Parker (UD) and the previously unbeaten Oscar Rivas, as well as a pair of barn-burners with Dereck Chisora.
A run of 11 wins between 2016 and 2019 was book-ended by losses to Anthony Joshua (TKO 7) and Alexander Povetkin (KO 5), but he gave a very good account of himself against the former and swiftly avenged the latter defeat next time out. That four-round battering of Povetkin in March last year was the last time we saw Whyte and he was in full-on destruction mode on that occasion, albeit it against a clearly faded former belt-holder.
However, Fury is unbeaten in 32, with just the controversial draw in the first Wilder fight tarnishing his record, and he has to start as a very warm favourite. The aforementioned victory over Klitschko in the latter’s back yard was superb and eclipses anything Whyte has achieved by some way. As does Fury’s stoppage wins over Wilder in his last two outings, but how you rate Wilder as a fighter will probably determine whether you believe 1/5 about Fury here is fair or not.
Wilder has an Olympic bronze medal to his name and, at the time of their first meeting, had defended his title seven times on his way to compiling a perfect 42-fight record, with a staggering 41 of those wins coming by knockout. That is some CV and beating the biggest puncher of his generation at his own game earned Fury huge plaudits. There are, however, plenty who believe Wilder was always overrated and had an easy time of things as champion, often looking lacklustre in the process.
Fury better prepared
It must also be noted that, although it was one of the most thrilling heavyweight fights in recent memory, Fury’s latest performance against Wilder was far from perfect. Aside from being dropped twice in the fourth session, he was caught regularly and looked very basic for long periods as he desperately tried to finish a fatigued opponent who looked ready to go after three rounds.
To counter that argument, his preparation was severely disrupted by his newly-born daughter being in intensive care and undergoing emergency surgery, because of which it is reported he may have only had four weeks of full training before that October contest. That version of Fury may not be able to produce another Houdini act in getting off the floor and pulling it out the bag against Whyte, but we can expect him to be much better prepared and closer to his best this time around.
There is no doubt fights like that put miles on the clock, but those using that as a basis for siding with Whyte should be reminded that the underdog has been in more of those gruelling scraps and has also been knocked out twice. He’s a year older at 34 and has more battle scars than the favourite.
Even if Fury gives Whyte what he wants in a toe-to-toe battle, you would still have to favour Fury, even if by a smaller margin than if he chose to box on the outside. The sheer size of the champion is an issue for anyone and let’s not forget how Whyte laboured to victory against taller men in Robert Helenius and Mariusz Wach. Whyte has to concede five inches in height and seven inches in reach, which are quite considerable disadvantages and he will also be outweighed by somewhere around two stones. That means he won’t be able to bully and manhandle his opponent like he is used to doing.
The big weapon for Whyte is his left hook, which badly wobbled Joshua and has floored many a good man before and since. However, Fury has the ability to take this away from him by switching to southpaw, a stance from which he has proven just as effective in the past and, even if he lands it, will it be enough to keep the Fury down for the stoppage at 6/1? After all, Wilder landed his best shots on several occasions and, each time, the Brit got back to his feet to dish out more punishment. And Wilder hits harder than Whyte.
Boxing is rarely as simple going by common opponents but even those formlines don’t look good for Whyte. While he had two life-and-death wars with Chisora, narrowly prevailing on each occasion (SD & KO 11), Fury played with the Finchley slugger in relative terms on the two occasions they met (UD & RTD 10).
What’s the best bet for Fury v Whyte?
While the days of Fury purely boxing and moving may be gone, I don’t expect it to be all-out aggression against a willing brawler and we may see a mixture of the two Fury styles. I don’t doubt him when he tells us he will be going for a third straight stoppage, but I expect him to apply pressure in an educated manner and only put his foot on the gas when he feels the time is right. Fury has a tremendous jab, which he uses to both occupy his opponents and as a weapon in itself, and he will look to get that going from the off to maintain the distance.
Closing the gap will not be easy for Whyte and he will probably have to eat plenty of shots on the way in as he looks to get inside. However, Fury won’t want to go backwards too often, and he is going to have to stand his ground on occasions, which is when Whyte can have success by clubbing away with those heavy hooks to head and body.
Indeed, going downstairs could be crucial to Whyte’s chances as he needs to slow down the quicker Fury. That said, Fury has an underrated inside game and Whyte is far from certain to come out best when this is fought at close quarters.
It remains to be seen if Fury’s new-found power will have the same effect on someone not called Wilder and the champion to retain his title via decision is a big runner at 5/2. If Fury is in boxing mode and/or his power punches don’t deter Whyte, then that is where I think this one is heading.
However, Fury’s willingness to put on a show could mean this really catches fire around the middle rounds and, given that both of Whyte’s defeats have come by stoppage, I slightly favour an inside-the-distance win for the favourite. This is an 8/11 chance, but it is hard to see him getting the job done too early and with Whyte displaying stamina issues by fading down the stretch in the past, the champion is taken to wear him down somewhere in the second half of the contest. FURY TO WIN IN ROUNDS 7-12 is a 15/8 chance and rates the best bet.
For some, the pressure of 94,000 people turning up to see you could be overwhelming, but Fury thrives on the big stage and will love every second of this. While there is a danger of him enjoying it a little too much and making mistakes by playing to the crowd, he is made for this kind of event and will relish the occasion, whereas Whyte has never been under such scrutiny before and there is every chance that it could negatively affect his performance.
Whichever way he goes about it, Fury should have enough to prevail in a very entertaining contest and ensure the thousands departing Wembley at around midnight go home happy.
Posted at 1315 BST on 21/04/22
Fury v Whyte: TV channel and PPV cost
Fury vs Whyte is being broadcast live from Wembley on Saturday, April 23 on BT Sport Box Office. The pay-per-view will cost fans £24.95.
The undercard is due to begin at 6pm BST, with ring walks for the main event expected at 10pm.
Fury v Whyte full undercard and fight times
The undercard is due to begin at 6pm BST, with ring walks for the main event expected at 10pm.
- Main Event: Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte
- Isaac Lowe vs Nick Ball
- Tommy Fury vs Daniel Bocianski
- Anthony Cacace vs Jonathan Romero
- David Adeleye vs Chris Healey
- Karol Itauma vs Michal Ciach
- Royston Barney-Smith vs Jahfieus Faure
- Kurt Walker vs Stefan Nicolae
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.
Related boxing links
- original source here