Dillian Whyte faces a “must-win” rematch with Alexander Povetkin because his world title ambitions may never recover from another defeat, says promoter Eddie Hearn.
Whyte’s chance to exact revenge on Povetkin comes on Saturday night in Gibraltar, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
He was WBC mandatory challenger before a knockout defeat to Povetkin last summer, meaning his 1,000-day wait for a world title shot was in vain.
“Must-win, because Dillian Whyte’s aim is to win a world heavyweight championship,” said Hearn about this weekend’s rematch.
“Dillian Whyte’s aim and our aim is to get him in the position to fight for the world heavyweight championship. Without that, I don’t think he has any interest, career-wise. That is the ultimate strategy, aim, focus.
“If he loses against Povetkin, that is out – and it’s not just out for six months or a year. That could be out forever.”
Whyte knocked Povetkin down twice in the opening four rounds of their first fight but succumbed to a comeback KO.
He has since employed Harold ‘The Shadow’ Knight, the trainer who led Lennox Lewis to major rematch victories.
“There’s a difference with Dillian Whyte in this camp,” said Hearn.
“He’s gone back to his old ways. He’s more spiteful. He’s more short and sharp. He wants to do a job on Povetkin.
“But Povetkin comes into the fight surely with so much confidence. I know he went down twice in the fight, but he did take Whyte clean off his feet and knock him out. He’ll be looking to do that again.
“I think it’s going to be a firefight. I think Whyte is going to go out there and try and impose himself on the fight and I think he’s going to try and knock out Povetkin in style.
“I think Povetkin will be thinking, ‘one shot, once again it’s over’. It’s going to be a tremendous fight.”
Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a contract to fight for every major heavyweight championship and are awaiting a date and a location.
A host of contenders, including Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce who are negotiating a fight for the WBO interim belt, are awaiting the fallout from Joshua and Fury’s mega-fight.
“Like any undisputed fights, belts start to vacate and belts start to fragment, so that could certainly happen with the WBO,” Hearn said.
“That could happen with the WBC. You just don’t know.”
Whyte is rated at No 6 with the WBC but previously topped their rankings while Deontay Wilder was the champion. The governing body have supported the idea of Whyte welcoming Wilder back to the ring.
“This could be potentially a very interesting fight,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told Sky Sports.
Hearn added: “Wilder-Whyte is a stunning fight. I’ve been trying to make that fight for years, but let’s deal with next week first.
“I think once Whyte can beat Povetkin, then we can look at those kinds of fights with more confidence. First things first, everything is on the line.”
Whyte has battled back from a knockout defeat before – after losing to Joshua in December 2015, he strung together 11 victories to establish himself as a threat to the world champions.
That same hunger will propel him past Povetkin, believes Hearn.
“The best attribute of Dillian Whyte? He’s a tough son of a gun,” he said. “He’s extremely tough, extremely rugged, extremely durable.
“This time you will get the Dillian Whyte who was fighting with absolutely nothing.
“The guy who was so dangerous because you knew he’d be the last man standing. That’s the mentality he’s got for this fight.
“This time, he’ll have the attitude: when Povetkin is hurt, finish him.
“He’s not a pleasant person to have a conversation with but I like that in a fighter.”
Watch Povetkin vs Whyte 2 on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.