Does Dillian Whyte deserve a shot at the WBC heavyweight title currently held by Deontay Wilder? Jonathan Nagioff plays judge and jury
The situation between Dillian Whyte and the World Boxing Council (WBC) continues to rumble on. Rightly or wrongly, a shot at Deontay Wilder’s WBC world title continues to elude him, despite remaining the number one ranked contender for almost 600 days. However, the situation appears to be reaching a desirable conclusion for the Brixton man who could be granted his shot by the end of 2019. Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that his upcoming bout against Oscar Rivas should be for the WBC interim title, with the winner mandatory for the green and gold belt. However, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has cast doubt upon these reports, having been irritated by some actions from Team Whyte.
So does Dillian Whyte deserve an imminent shot at the WBC world title?
Why Whyte deserves a shot
Number one status
Ever since his solitary knockout defeat to bitter rival Anthony Joshua in 2015, the “Body Snatcher” has established himself amongst the best in the division, winning nine on the spin to rack up a record of 25-1. This steady rise has seen him clean up the British scene with victories over Ian Lewison and Dave Allen, whilst two enthralling bouts with Dereck Chisora, the second of which confirming his status as the superior man, saw a brutal left hook conclude a bitter rivalry.
Whyte first claimed the WBC Silver title with a shutout victory over Robert Helenius in Cardiff in 2017, defending it on three occasions and, as mentioned, has been ranked number one contender with the WBC for almost 600 days. Whilst the number one position is not considered to automatically grant mandatory status, it should provide a path to sealing this position, yet the governing body has stood firm to deny Whyte an opportunity.
Calibre of opponents
The 31-year-old has remained active when others would have sat patiently waiting for their moment. Two former world champions have been put in front of him, yet he has met this pressure head on, dispatching former WBA Regular champion Lucas Browne in six crushing rounds, whilst securing a close points decision in a barnstormer with former WBO world champion Joseph Parker last summer, becoming the first man to knock down the New Zealander, despite also hitting the canvas himself in the final round. The victory over Parker in particular cemented his place in the upper echelon of heavyweight boxing, with Parker’s only other career loss to Anthony Joshua on points coming four months prior. Just look through history to see other world title challengers who have gone through far less arduous opponents to land themselves a world title shot. Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are two that spring to mind.
Why Whyte doesn’t deserve a shot
The situation with American Dominic Breazeale was perplexing to say the least. “Trouble” had rallied himself following his knockout defeat to Anthony Joshua in 2016, securing three straight wins to place himself back in contention for a world title shot. The WBC had ordered Breazeale’s fight with Eric Molina as a final eliminator meaning he was next in line.
By the time, the WBC ordered a final eliminator between Whyte and Breazeale on 12 February 2019, the latter had been waiting 15 months for his opportunity. Therefore, following Tyson Fury’s decision to join Bob Arum’s Top Rank and ESPN, an instant rematch of the December classic between him and Wilder was delayed, leading WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to sanction Breazeale to face Wilder for their title. Whether the fact Wilder blew Breazeale away in one round has any relevance to Whyte not receiving a shot is a separate matter. But the facts remain that at the time, despite the Californian being ranked fourth and below Whyte, his chance was just.
Ortiz and Pulev eliminators
Arguably Whyte’s failure to land a shot is partly of his own doing. Following his victory over Browne in March 2018, the WBC ordered an eliminator between the “Body Snatcher” and the much-feared Luis Ortiz, for the ‘second mandatory’ position behind Breazeale. The Cuban had just handed Wilder the toughest test of his career to date, rocking the “Bronze Bomber” before succumbing to a 10th-round knockout defeat. Whyte refused to face the former world title challenger and instead chose Parker, which hindered his status with the WBC. Mr Sulaiman has gone on record to state that this alone has proved detrimental to Whyte receiving a shot.
At a similar time, Whyte was ordered to fight Kubrat Pulev in a final eliminator for the IBF world title held by Anthony Joshua. The fight was set to take place in Bulgaria but would have guaranteed him a world title shot. The pair were unable to agree a bout and Whyte opted for the more lucrative showdown with Parker, which perhaps you can’t knock him for considering his rivalry with Joshua and a rematch always likely to be on the table between them.
On balance, despite his failure to take an eliminator which would have improved his standing with the WBC, Whyte does deserve his shot at the title. His sheer determination and commitment to securing an opportunity cannot be underestimated and whilst he might not receive his chance just yet, there can be no denying his number-one status which, if he retains it with victory over Oscar Rivas, would cement his place as a sizeable challenge to Deontay Wilder, who as the champion hasn’t exactly been desperate to face the Brixton puncher.