Dillian Whyte loses out again as the WBO discount his appeal and make their ’Super champion’ Oleksandr Usyk the mandatory challenger at heavyweight
One would have to possess a heart of stone to not by now feel some semblance of sympathy for Brixton heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte. Still embroiled in a long-running saga with the WBC regarding their mandatory challenger position, he has now seen Oleksandr Usyk leapfrog him in the WBO reckoning.
When a WBO title-holder is designated as a ’Super champion’ - as the Ukranian was after unifying all the major cruiserweight titles when winning the World Boxing Super Series last July - they inherit certain special rights that include being named mandatory challenger immediately upon entering a new division. This is at the WBO’s discretion but such a request is rarely refused.
It should be noted that Usyk’s team did not make this request after their decision to move up to heavyweight or once his debut in the division was scheduled for May against Carlos Takam - a bout later cancelled after Usyk suffered an injury. No, Usyk’s team made their bid on June 3, the first business day following Amthony Joshua surprisingly losing three major heavyweight belts - the WBO included - to Andy Ruiz Jr. Opportunism sure, but can we really blame them?
Well, Whyte’s team could and with good reason, given Dillian is the WBO No. 1 and their International champion. They lodged an appeal, contending Usyk’s request on several levels, including his lack of experience at heavyweight, Whyte’s fine run of form in the division and Usyk’s injury potentially making him unavailable. The latter’s team posited that his dearth of fights at heavyweight was irrelevant given the Super champion privileges and produced a medical report to prove Usyk was now fit and could, if asked, fulfil the mandatory challenge in his next fight. They furthermore pointed out that Whyte had a fight scheduled, for July 20 against Oscar Rivas.
Whyte’s team then asked the WBO to delay any decision until after Whyte-Rivas as a victory there could add further credibility to their man’s claim.
Ultimately the WBO ruled in Usyk’s favour, making him the mandatory and leaving Whyte in the cold.