Dillian Whyte remains a “significant factor” in the heavyweight division even though he may face a lengthy wait for a first world-title fight, says BBC boxing correspondent Mike Costello.
The Briton knocked out Alexander Povetkin on Saturday after suffering a brutal defeat by the Russian in August.
But two fights between world champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury suggest another lengthy wait for Whyte.
“This opens up a whole range of opportunities,” said Costello.
“Yes, he might have to wait for that world title chance but he’s used to that.
“At least now he is back in a position where he can barter on the back of the performance that he’s produced.”
What if Joshua-Fury problems arise?
Whyte waited more than three years for a shot at the WBC world heavyweight title that never materialised and won fans for taking on tricky opponents, risking his promised title shot in the process.
Now he is back in the picture but the public focus is on IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua facing WBC title-holder Fury in heavyweight boxing’s first contest for all four belts.
A first fight of their two-fight agreement is set for this summer. But what happens if either man picks up an injury after a first bout. Would a window then open up for the likes of Whyte?
Then there are the egos and politics. If either man wins the first fight convincingly, does the pre-agreed financial split for fight two become a sticking point? Heavyweight deals rarely run smoothly.
Whyte should be boring for six months
“I still believe I can beat anyone. I want the world title,” Whyte said on Saturday.
“The ultimate aim has been for Whyte to challenge for the world heavyweight title,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Tonight was about getting his career back on track. It was a lot of pressure.
“Coming back from the knockout was not easy. We are back where we wanted to be.”
But where does Whyte go with no immediate prospect of a title bout? He has both improved as a fighter and built his reputation by taking risky fights. In his post-fight interviews on Saturday however there was a subtle change of tack.
Whyte light-heartedly suggested Hearn should get him “an easy fight” to “make some money” and “not take so much risk” – but it is a course that merits serious consideration.
Former world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has been spoken of as a prospective opponent, as has British heavyweight Joe Joyce but Whyte’s comments point to the likelihood of a ‘tick-over’ fight while the early Joshua-Fury drama plays out.
It seems defeat has taught him repeated risks in the ring can come at a price.
After a knockout defeat in the summer and a seemingly never-ending training camp during the pandemic, Whyte has overcome a period of chaos and a mini-crisis.
Few could grumble if he took an ‘easy’ route for six months before assessing the landscape. Whyte has fought 12 times in less than five years, so body and mind may welcome a rest.
Wilder, Joyce, Andy Ruiz Jr and other such danger men are not what he needs now. Indeed, this risk taker’s greatest reward may materialise if he can live with being temporarily boring.
It will be a tougher sell and almost certainly less lucrative but it might just be the common sense move in a notoriously unpredictable sport.