Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte: Head-to-Toe Breakdown and PredictionApril 22, 2022
Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte: Head-to-Toe Breakdown and Prediction
It's a heavyweight championship fight week.
OK, so maybe that doesn't mean what it did a generation or two ago, when there weren't what feels like two dozen guys running around claiming to be the No. 1 big man in the sport.
Nevertheless, Tyson Fury is fighting. And if you're a boxing fan, that matters.
The WBC champion will risk his belt for the second time since he won it, this time against that organization's trumped-up "interim champion," Dillian Whyte. The nonsense title isn't important, but Whyte's street cred as a skilled operator with wins over ex-claimants Alexander Povetkin and Joseph Parker is.
And the fact that they'll fight in front of 90,000 or so people makes it an event, regardless of belts.
The B/R combat sports team took a head-to-toe look at each main event principal as a primer for the weekend extravaganza.
Take a look at what we came up with and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.
What You Need to Know
What: Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
TV: ESPN+ PPV
What's at Stake: Officially, it's the WBC's slice of the heavyweight championship pie.
But given the fact that Fury is deemed the division's legit kingpin by The Ring and most others, you can go ahead and say—with apologies to fellow claimant Oleksandr Usyk—that it's the same "heavyweight championship of the world" chased in the past by guys surnamed Ali, Frazier, Foreman and Holmes.
And it's a pretty big deal in the UK, where they'll be in prime time in a venue that holds 90,000.
It'll actually be Fury's first world title fight in seven years that doesn't involve Deontay Wilder as a dance partner.
Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 for the legit world title before going on the shelf for personal reasons. He drew with then-WBC champ Wilder in 2018, beat him in a rematch in 2020 and ended the trilogy with an 11th-round finish in his most recent fight in October 2021.
It's the first championship opportunity for Whyte, who was a 16-0 prospect before being stopped by future title claimant Anthony Joshua in 2015. He's lost just once in 13 fights since, getting stopped by another former belt-holder, Alexander Povetkin, in August 2020 before winning by TKO in March 2021.
Fury has insisted retirement is in his future regardless of Saturday's result, but it'd be hard to imagine a victorious champion passing up possible moneymakers with Usyk or Joshua, or a beaten titleholder not wanting to avenge his first career defeat in another all-British showdown with Whyte.
Tyson Fury's Tale of the Tape
Nickname: Gypsy King
Record: 31-0-1, 22 KOs
Weight: 277 pounds*
All stats per BoxRec.
*Official weight at last fight in October 2021.
Dillian Whyte's Tale of the Tape
Nickname: Body Snatcher
Record: 28-2, 19 KOs
Weight: 247.5 pounds*
All stats per BoxRec.
*Official weight at last fight in March 2021.
Those who simply label Whyte with the "aggressive slugger" tag often applied to big punchers risk missing some of the nuance in the versatile 34-year-old's style.
While it's true that he hits hard, he's more aptly branded a counterpuncher who can read and react to his opponent's shots. He also uses a jab with varying speed and direction to upset rhythm and inflict punishment as he works his way into optimal punching range.
Once there, he works particularly effectively to the body—hence the Body Snatcher nickname—and it's his best hope against a fighter with as long a torso as Fury's.
But let's not kid ourselves. If you're awarding pre-fight points on boxing ability, they go to Fury.
At 6'9" and north of 270 pounds, the reigning champion does things in a ring that have never been seen on his level by someone with those dimensions.
Rather than simply shuffling forward looking to land a fight-altering punch, he's been able to use a number of approaches against opponents.
He bamboozled Klitschko with counterpunches and movement in their 2015 fight but walked right toward a fearsome Wilder on the way to KO victories in their second and third meetings.
It's never clear which style Fury will lean on, but it's imperative for Whyte to get to the body if he's to have any sustained success Saturday night.
Fury has 22 KOs in 31 wins and dropped Wilder five times in their trilogy.
Meanwhile, Whyte has 19 KOs in 28 wins and has punched out early in four of the eight scheduled 12-rounders that he's won.
So both have proved they can render an opponent senseless with one shot or a series of them, and they've done it with a comparable percentage—Fury 71, Whyte 68—in their triumphs. Still, though statistical power is close, it's clear that if one guy must rely on power to win this fight, it's Whyte.
There's little reason to envision a guy giving away five inches in height and seven inches in reach winning a technical match at distance. Instead, in order to slay the giant and take his jewelry, Whyte will have to land punches that alter Fury's ability to use his skills—whether it's via one big bomb or sustained little ones.
The more he can get to the body, the more he'll keep Fury stationary. And the more he keeps Fury stationary, the more likely it is that he'll connect with a single shot that could do decisive damage.
As for the champion, his blowouts of Wilder show he's particularly devastating when he decides to employ the Kronk style endorsed by trainer SugarHill Steward and fight on the front foot as a stalker. The idea that Whyte can contend over the long haul with an aggressive 6'9", 270-pound foe is unlikely.
Again, Fury isn't simply a lumbering guy who's there to be hit.
He feints well and uses his feet to create angles or simply dodge punishment when it comes his way. He can roll his shoulders to elude shots from in close, and he's adept at slipping and ducking punches too.
And another quality he's got going for him is heart.
He's risen from knockdowns issued by the likes of Steve Cunningham and Neven Pajkic in the past, and memorably climbed off the deck four times against Wilder—who'd KO'd every man he'd fought before Fury.
In Whyte's case, the best defense will be a successful offense.
It's difficult to envision a path to victory for him if he's not controlling the exchanges and the space in the ring. If Fury is the busier fighter and forces the challenger to primarily play defense, Whyte's not likely to fare too much better than Wilder.
Whyte's been KO'd in both of his career losses, first by Anthony Joshua in 2015 and later to Alexander Povetkin in 2019. He avenged the Povetkin loss with a stoppage of his own seven months later.
Fury's X-Factor: All In or All Out?
It's unclear how many people are taking Fury's chatter that he'll retire after this fight at face value.
There seems to be too much on the table for him to walk away uninjured.
But regardless, stepping into a ringed square with a motivated, dangerous opponent without 100 percent commitment to the task at hand is a risky game to play. That's not to say he hasn't prepared and won't be ready come Saturday night, but it does leave room to wonder if he's already plotting the next steps.
Perhaps the last thing he should look at before Saturday's ring walk is a clip of dominant heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, who'd been distracted during training by a cameo role in Ocean's Eleven, getting starched by prohibitive underdog Hasim Rahman in April 2001.
If it can happen to the best of the UK's recent heavyweights, it can happen to Fury too.
Whyte's X-Factor: Can He Chew What He's Bitten?
Make no mistake: Whyte is a credible heavyweight contender.
He's won 28 of 30 pro fights, avenged one of the defeats by TKO and is ranked fourth among Fury's championship contenders by The Ring.
But there feels like a vast gap between him and Fury. And the apparent mind games he's trying to play by not attending media functions and open workouts seem to not have affected the champion.
So it makes one wonder what exactly Whyte's trying to accomplish.
Perhaps it'll make sense if he's locked in and focused when the first bell rings. But unless it results in some amped-up level of competition, it just seems juvenile and unprofessional. Not on a world-title level.
There's a reason Fury is the favorite here.
He's a talented giant who's demonstrated his skills against two of the highest-level opponents the division has had to offer in the last decade.
And against those fighters, he's 3-0-1 with two KOs.
So if he comes in prepared and focused and conditioned well enough to do the things he normally does, there's not a lot of reason to believe he'll lose.
Still, any time he gets in a ring, the images of him being dropped four times by Wilder and twice more against lesser foes will be replayed over and over again. As preeminent as he seems at times, he is vulnerable to a rival with a particularly big punch.
Whyte can be that guy.
And assuming the burly Brit is motivated and prepared as well, you can bet he'll be primed to put on the performance of his career in front of the biggest crowd he's ever seen for a fight.
It could matter. He could land a shot. He could be a champion by Saturday evening.
But it probably won't happen. Fury probably controls the distance and punishes him from the outside, softening him up for the eventual series of one-sided rounds that spend Whyte's fuel supply and leave him ripe for the picking in the fight's second half.
The guess here is it gets done just before the last one did.
Prediction: Fury by TKO, Round 10
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