Alexander Povetkin’s stunning left upper-cut in the fifth-round on Saturday night not only slumped Dillian Whyte, it also shifted the heavyweight boxing landscape.
Whyte’s presence as the mandatory challenger to the WBC belt was threatening the titanic Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury face-off fight fans are craving, but despite dominating the opening rounds Whyte was left out cold and out of the running.
Povetkin now waits in the mandatory position Whyte held for more than 1000 frustrating days but won’t be a roadblock for Fury and Joshua, who could now schedule a bout for 2021 in the aftermath of the Gypsy King’s trilogy clash with Deontay Wilder.
The unification ‘Battle of Britain’ fight between WBC champion Fury and WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO title holder Joshua is one boxing is desperate not to lose after the pair marked themselves as the standouts of their generation.
Fury dominated Wilder in February before a seventh-round knock-out made him a world champion once again, after Joshua picked apart Andy Ruiz in December to crush the Mexican on the score cards in their Saudi rematch.
After the Bronze Bomber activated his rematch clause with Fury – the only man still undefeated among heavyweight boxing’s fearsome trio – the pair agreed on a July 18 date, which fell back first to October 3, then to December 19.
Joshua has his own business to take care of before finally facing Fury after the Watford-born superstar’s June clash with Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium was postponed indefinitely, with the Brit hinting at a date in December.
Both fights could yet be pushed back into 2021 with Covid-19 still ensuring dates are merely pencilled in, with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn admitting that the pandemic could cause the era-defining fight to be held fan-free.
Hearn laid down a blueprint for boxing behind-closed-doors during his Fight Camp series in the gardens of his Matchroom headquarters, with Povetkin’s stunning punch a dramatic finale to the event.
Whyte will now rest up after the frightening blow, having told Hearn to secure him a rematch before the Bodysnatcher had even left the ring.
The Brit will activate his clause for a repeat against Povetkin in what will be a crucial moment in his career, with another loss threatening his once secure status among heavyweight boxing’s elite – much like the task Joshua faced against Ruiz back in Diriyah.
Joshua, the other blemish on Whyte’s 27-2 record, is backing his countryman, telling SkySports on the night: ‘I stick with him as a fighter and say dust yourself off, get back up and go again.’