One of the busiest mixed martial arts weekends of the calendar year thus far will go toe-to-toe with arguably boxing’s top draw on Saturday afternoon. Undisputed heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will put his WBC and lineal heavyweight titles on the line against fellow British boxer Dillian Whyte in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium crowd.
There’s Only One Tyson Fury
Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs), 33, claims this will be the final fight of his accomplished career, and while pundits have disputed this, Saturday will provide an opportunity for Fury to go out with a bang in front of a record crowd of more than 94,000 people in his home country. He is coming off an 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in the two heavyweights’ trilogy fight, and Saturday’s contest will mark the first time Fury has faced an opponent other than Wilder in nearly three years.
Fury had initially hoped to be fighting unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO champion Oleksandr Usyk after the unbeaten Ukranian defeated Anthony Joshua last September, but Whyte and Joshua both turned down their respective step-aside offers, meaning Usyk will eventually have to defend his belts in a rematch with Joshua. Nevertheless, Fury will go toe-to-toe with Whyte, a former sparring partner of his this weekend in a match that is sure to produce fireworks one way or the other.
“[Whyte] is a good fighting man,” Fury said at this week’s press conference. “The fans are in for a real treat. I know Dillian. I know him personally, and he knows me. And we’re going to rock n’ roll on fight night. We’re ready to throw down and treat us all to a hell of a barnstorm.”
A Familiar, Formidable Challenger
Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) is no stranger to a challenge, having had to climb the ranks in spite of setbacks against Joshua and the now-retired Alexander Povetkin. The Jamaican-born boxer responded to the adversity, however, in the best way possible, rolling off 11-consecutive wins after losing to Joshua, and by knocking out Povetkin in what would be the final fight of the Russian’s career. Notable wins of Whyte’s include Dereck Chisora twice, Robert Helenius, Lucas Browne, Oscar Rivas, Mariusz Wach, and former champion Joseph Parker.
The challenger’s accomplished in-ring career has, however, sometimes been overshadowed by antics outside the ring, usually at press conferences. Whyte once stormed out of a press conference while protesting his fight-night purse, and most recently no-showed the kick-off press conference on Feb. 28, seldom engaging with the media at all in the build-up to this fight. Whether that serves as a hindrance or benefit to Whyte remains to be seen, but the challenger seems ready to go if taken at his word.
“[The fight] means everything,” Whyte said. “It’s massive. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s a big fight. Like Tyson said, we didn’t expect to be here but I’m here. I’ve taken risks time and time again. I’ve had a couple slipups along the way, but I’m here and I’m ready to go. You won’t hear any bullshit from me. I’m ready to go.”
Whyte will put his powerful 6-foot-4 frame to the test against the 6-foot-9 Fury, whose footwork and mobility are lauded by those inside and outside the sport. The Manchester native combines his movement with exceptional volume, pace, and toughness, all of which work in tandem to support the No. 1 heavyweight in the world on an unprecedented trajectory. As evidenced in his unblemished record, Fury has never been knocked out. Wilder came the closest to doing just that in the midnight hour of their first championship fight, with Fury beating the count at the last possible moment to recover and finish the round with his faculties in place.
As a result, the challenger will likely need to do what has yet to be done, as a 12-round fight would figure to favor the champion’s precision and volume. Fury has nine decision wins to his name, but has flashed some additional stopping power in the second and third Wilder fights, scoring finishes in the seventh and 11th rounds of each respective fight.
Current betting odds have Fury lined as around a -600 favorite, while Whyte can be had as a near-4:1 underdog. The pay-per-view will be available to purchase on ESPN+ at a $69.99 price point with the main card expected to begin at around 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT.
Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte Fight Card
WBC Heavyweight Championship: Tyson Fury (c) (GBR) vs. Dillian Whyte (GBR)
BBBofC Welterweight Championship: Ekow Essuman (c) (GBR) vs. Darren Tetley (GBR)
Light Heavyweight: Tommy Fury (GBR) vs. Daniel Bocianski (POL)
Featherweight: Isaac Lowe (GBR) vs. Nick Ball (GBR)
Heavyweight: David Adeleye (GBR) vs. Chris Healey (GBR)
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