Eddie Hearn has named Andy Ruiz and Alexander Povetkin as desirable opponents for Dillian Whyte next fight, so we weigh them up
Matchroom have a pretty large stake in the increasingly exciting heavyweight scene and rotating all the puzzle pieces must be quite a nice challenge to have. Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will next face either Kubrat Pulev or Matchroom’s Oleksandr Usyk, who could still meet that company’s Dereck Chisora before his title tilt. Elsewhere, the likes of Michael Hunter and Hughie Fury jostle for position. But the man many rank as the fifth best heavyweight in the world wants to return in April and will need a dance partner. So following a hard-fought win over Mariusz Wach in Saudi Arabia last month, who is in the running for Dillian Whyte next fight?
Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn recently referenced everpresent Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin and recently deposed surprise champ Andy Ruiz Jr as options for Whyte. Which one makes more sense and which, if either, is more likely to happen?
Having given Joshua problems last year, before ultimately being stopped in seven, the Russian followed up with a clear victory over Hughie Fury in July. The ex-WBA titlist had positioned himself as a leading contender once again, but Povetkin looked rather fortunate to receive a draw versus Hunter on the big Diriyah bill. That removed some of the shine but "Sasha" remains a top 10 heavyweight and his one-paced, albeit crafty, pressuring style would suit Whyte who prefers to mix things up. Povetkin may feel if he waits around a bit longer he will get his chance as the belts separate from AJ, but that approach has not worked out so well for Whyte. This looks the likelier probability.
Andy Ruiz Jr
Hearn has already conceded that the Mexican-American’s team are unlikely to fancy a Whyte spring. His conditioning going into the Joshua rematch, and performance therein, has attracted widespread, justifiable criticism and if the riches garnered from his initial upset triumph have not totally blunted Andy’s competitive edge, he will want redemption. A win over Whyte would also put him right at the front of the contender queue and in pole position for a trilogy fight with AJ, a shot at WBC king and PBC stablemate Deontay Wilder or a crack at a vacant strap. The flip side to that of course is that a second loss on the spin would torpedo any lingering momentum and place Ruiz back among the rabble. If he came in shape, the fast-handed, aggressive former champ could give Whyte a real battle, and a fun one to watch, but this does seem the outside bet.