British bad-boy, Dillian Whyte, faces off against Russia’s pride, Alexander Povetkin, in the most destructive heavyweight collision since the Cold War (or Anthony Joshua vs Povetkin). 22 August 2020.
Matchroom returns with their first pay-per-view since the COVID-19-induced break starting back in early 2020. Its a little baffling that a five-fight card could constitute the normal PPV £20, but alas, there are finally boxing bouts with genuine meaning at the world title level. Moreover, the fights are to take place within the back-garden of Matchroom HQ in Essex as has become the norm. An open-air, night-time scrap between two big bois is the stuff of dreams after the lull in boxing.
Whyte is a divisive character. It appears that the boxing world is evenly split between half who massively overrate his skillset, praising his left hook as the deadliest across all divisions, and the other half who underrate his abilities based on his frequency to hit the mat. The truth is that Whyte probably falls somewhere amongst a grey area of the two. Whyte has one of the best resumes out of any current heavyweight, and despite seemingly ducking the opportunity to face off with boogeyman Luis Ortiz, his record still shows him: 1. Dropping the iron chinned Joseph Parker, 2. Putting WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO champion Anthony Joshua in a whole world of trouble 3. Decisively beating the relatively unknown but extremely dangerous Oscar Rivas.
In contrast, Alexander Povetkin is an old man now at 40, and has been worryingly showing signs of decline. Povetkin’s style is not designed for a graceful retirement, reliant on out-hustling his opponent with the extra speed that benefits his smaller frame (6″2′) amongst the heavyweights. Forced to perform a standing backwards crawl by David Price, out-worked by blown-up cruiserweight Michael Hunter, and stopped emphatically by Anthony Joshua, Alexander Povetkin has not had the kindest of twilights. Regardless, Povetkin remains a top-fifteen heavyweight with a wealth of experience that can exploit one of the many holes apparent in Whyte’s game.
(Interim) World Boxing Council World Heavy Title
(Vacant) World Boxing Council Diamond Heavy Title
Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18KO) vs Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24KO)
How has Dillian Whyte not earned his rightful crack at the WBC title yet? The man has walked through every hurdle that the organisation has thrown in front of him, yet Whyte is still left wasting his prime on the sidelines. Smoke and mirrors surround the negotiations regarding Whyte ducking the challenge from stylish Cuban, Luis Ortiz. Even if the rumours are to be believed, Whyte would still have deserved his world title bout long ago. The most important match for Whyte, one that has seemingly slipped under the radar of most fans, was his dismantling of Oscar Rivas over twelve rounds. Dropped in the ninth round, a blemish on an otherwise stellar performance, Whyte was able to out-box a man who had beaten former world champion, Andy Ruiz Jr. and former world title challenger, Kubrat Pulev, in the Olympics.
Whyte’s chin has always had a question mark over it. Brutally finished by Joshua early in both of their professional careers, Whyte has been on his back twice more (Joseph Parker and Oscar Rivas, one apiece). Whyte’s recovery, although ungainly to watch, is a vital component of his success. On wobbly legs and comparable to Bambi on ice, Whyte can evade the killer instincts of his foes. Firing back enough firepower, or entering an ugly clinch, Whyte can buy himself recovery time. Recovery, heart and a nuclear-left hook that has cracked the chin of top-twenty heavyweights, Whyte possesses the attributes required to make a run for the world title.
Alexander Povetkin was unfortunate to have fought during the Klitschko era. Downed four times on his way to a comically one-sided shut-out against Wladimir Klitschko, Povetkin’s height and reach were exposed. Despite the blueprint on beating Povetkin being available to all, no other challenger was able to best the Russian until his second failed title bid against Joshua. Brushing aside the bruising yet unpopular heavyweight contenders is a tough job, especially when the quality of fighters are massively understated – Carlos Takam, Mariusz Wach, and Johann Duhaupas. Povetkin’s most recent years, however, have shown the cruel impact of father time. Flat-footed against Michael Hunter, Povetkin looked a far-cry from his constant movement and defensively-sound shell. A greater reliance on one-shot power, a feature that had never really been part of his arsenal, illustrates Povetkin’s decline. No-longer able to throw extended combinations over championship rounds, Povetkin is nearing the end.
Predicted Result: Whyte Points
Povetkin’s chin has never been in doubt. Withstanding a brutal twelve round beating at the hands of Klitschko, and having only been stopped by the power and excellent gameplan of Anthony Joshua, Povetkin should be able to take the power of Whyte. Whyte’s youth, output and willingness to engage in fire-fights will play into his hands when the judges scorecards are announced.
Result: Povetkin def. Whyte // TKO Round 5 0:30
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
World Boxing Council World Female Light Title
World Boxing Association World Female Light Title
International Boxing Federation World Female Light Title
World Boxing Organisation World Female Light Title
Women’s Lightweight (135)
Katie Taylor (15-0, 6KO) vs Delfine Persoon (44-2, 18KO)
The most important fight on the entire card involves the scrap for the unified women’s lightweight world champion. All the belts are on the line as Delfine Persoon attempts to right the wrongs from her last fight against current champion, Katie Taylor. There were very few fans who left MSG who believed that Katie Taylor had beat Persoon back in June 2019.
Katie Taylor is the pride of Irish boxing, and rightfully so. Five-time gold medalist at the World Championships and an Olympic gold medalist at London 2012, Taylor has a huge Irish contingent behind her. Transferring her amateur skillset over to the professional ranks was as efficient as one could wish. Winning a world title in only her seventh fight, Taylor has looked immense across her entire career until running into Delfine Persoon. Taylor’s greatest success is sourced from her ability to switch between levels with ease, launching whirlwind hooks to body and head that overwhelms opponents and forces the referee to jump in. Unable to bully the larger Persoon with her usual in-fighting style, Taylor won vital rounds by sitting back at range. Dictating the distance with her exceptional footwork, Taylor danced rings around the more immobile Persoon, and was fast enough to enter and exit the pocket with sniping shots. The issue arose when Taylor became lax, falling in love with her combinations, as she stood in the pocket for too long and was hit by the crunching shots from the gigantic Persoon. The gameplan for Taylor’s victory was evident in the last match, but is she willing to sit on the back-foot for twelve rounds?
Many critics felt that Taylor had downplayed the threat of Persoon and was exposed at MSG due to a simple misjudgement. This is incredibly unfair for Persoon, a boxer with a wealth of experience, who utilised her vast size advantage to make the champion as uncomfortable as possible. Bullying Taylor in the clinch and landing hard shots whenever Taylor lingered within range, Persoon executed the far more significant work during their first fight. If Persoon can cut off the ring effectively, and prevent Taylor from dancing around the outside of the ring, we could witness a new women’s Lightweight champion on the throne.
Predicted Result: Taylor Decision
Taylor is the far more stylish and technical fighter, no doubt she will be able to swallow her pride and stick to a less flashy gameplan for twelve rounds to silence the critics and assert her dominance as lightweight champion.
Result: Taylor def. Persoon // Decision (unanimous – 96-94, 96-94, 98-93)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Rest of the Card
Super Middleweight (168)
Jack Cullen (18-2, 9KO) vs Zak Chelli (7-1, 3KO)
Jack Cullen is a giant for super middleweight, scaling in at 6″3′, yet still is unaware of how to use his colossal size advantage. Preferring to in-fight with his long limbs, it is a crying shame to watch him engage in close instead of firing out a ramrod jab. Lawrence Okolie, love him or hate him, knows how to use his size to his advantage. Instead, Cullen prefers to scrap on the inside, often favouring the uppercut as his finishing shot on combinations. As a result, Cullen drags himself into firefights that he doesn’t need to. Beaten by Felix Cash in a war that did little to benefit either man’s career, Cullen’s style is exciting for fans but not for career longevity. Cullen does possess heart, however, and dug very deep in his defeat to Cash. Stopping regional British fighters late in contests suggests that Cullen does not have the power necessary to progress much further than European level, lest he sees the error of his ways and revolutionises his style.
Zak Chelli, the university man, was heavily promoted by Frank Warren and BT Sports until he was out-worked in a cagey light heavyweight affair with Kody Davies. Back down to his usual super middleweight, Chelli will feel more comfortable in dictating the proceedings as his power will be more respected. A fabulous unanimous decision over Umar Sadiq early in both of their careers underlines the quality of Chelli, and at only 22 years old, the future looks bright for the Londoner. Relying on a fast, laser-accurate right hook to punish opponents, Chelli utilises his jab as the main scoring shot over the fight. To beat Chelli, opponents will need to make the fight ugly, otherwise he is too fast and defensively sharp to be out-struck.
Predicted Result: Chelli Decision
Styles make fights; if Cullen can engage Chelli in a war on the inside then it could make the affair very tasty. Most likely, Chelli will be able to work around the lumbering giant and pick his man off frequently with long shots that don’t seem to be in Cullen’s armoury.
Result: Split Draw (95-95, 96-95, 93-97)
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️
World Boxing Organisation Global Welterweight Title
Luther Clay (13-1, 5KO) vs Chris Kongo (11-0, 6KO)
Luther Clay has been stepping up through the gears of his professional career as of late. Moving on from the journeymen that pad an early boxer’s career, Clay travelled to Italy to dismantle unbeaten Italian prospect, Dario Morello (15-0). Dropping the rising star twice over the course of ten-rounds, Clay emphatically secured the WBO Global Welterweight Title. Three months later, Clay defended his WBO Global Title by beating the durable, Freddy Kiwitt, over ten rounds. A heavy-hitting swarmer, Clay has recently prospered as a result of his all-out front-foot style which suffocates opponents and breaks their rhythm.
For Chris Kongo, his challenge for the WBO Global title marks his first significant challenge as a professional. Feasting on a host of journeymen for his first eleven bouts, Kongo may be entering deep waters for the first time in his career. Fast footwork and a frequent jab, Kongo has proved far too skilled for the level he has been fighting at. He does, however, have a tendency to jump into his shots. When they land, it is a wonderful transfer of power. When Kongo misses, he finds himself stranded within the range of his opponent. Journeymen haven’t been able, or perhaps willing, to expose this fundamental flaw. Can Clay?
Predicted Result: Clay TKO Round 8
Clay has proved his worth at an adequate level, and has progressed leaps since his sole defeat back in 2017. Kongo has the power to stop Clay’s usual game of front-foot blitzing, but he would have to establish respect for his power early in the contest.
Result: Kongo def. Clay // TKO Round 9 2:44
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Alen Babic (3-0, 3KO) vs Shawndell Terell Winters (13-3, 12KO)
Inexperienced in the professional ranks, Alen Babic has a handful of amateur boxing bouts and a wealth of kickboxing experience under his belt. Knocking out three cans in his professional career, the quality of Babic is unknown. Babic’s record deserves further scrutiny when considering that the skills of heavyweight journeymen are far inferior to the journeymen of lower weight classes.
Shawndell Winters moved up from cruiserweight to face off against former heavyweight world champion, Joseph Parker, back in February 2020. Expected to be brushed aside by the heavy hitter, Winters surprised many when he utilised his speed to out-work the more static Parker and steal a couple of the early rounds. Moreover, Winters showed a solid chin that only broke after sustained punishment in the fifth round.
Predicted Result: Winters TKO Round 5
A difficult fight to predict due to the unknown nature of Babic. Winters has been stopped by lowly fighters at cruiserweight, but his performance against Parker revealed solid fundamentals and a desire to achieve at heavyweight.
Result: Babic def. Winters // TKO Round 2 2:20
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Matchroom: Whyte vs Povetkin
2020 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: Cullen-Chelli was a sickener on the cards.