In what he claims will be the final fight of his 14-year career, Tyson Fury will defend his WBC and lineal heavyweight titles on Saturday against interim champion Dillian Whyte in London.
Few, of course, actually believe the 33-year-old Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) will walk away for good, regardless of the outcome. Still, the event is big enough (ESPN+ PPV, 2 p.m. ET) to warrant the attention of the entire sporting world as the two hulking heavyweights square off in their home country in front of a U.K. record crowd of 94,000 at Wembley Stadium.
The fight will mark the first time Fury is fighting anyone else other than former champion Deontay Wilder since 2019. It will also mark the first time Fury returns to fight in the U.K. since a 2018 win over Francesco Pianeta in Northern Ireland.
“Dillian Whyte is a good fighter,” Fury said at Wednesday’s final press conference. “He is a good, strong, solid man. He’s big, he’s strong [and] he’s tough. He’s game, he’s got good power. He has knocked out a lot of men. He has had a good learning career, as well. He’s got a lot of experience in the fight game. He’s definitely a man that needs a lot of respect.
“That’s why I’ve given all this training camp we’ve had. I’ve had everything I can possibly do to train for this. I’ve haven’t left any stones unturned. I’ve trained as hard for Dillian as I have for Wilder or [Wladimir] Klitschko.”
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Fury had hope to be fighting unified champion Oleksandr Usyk to open 2022 in a four-belt undisputed title bout, but both Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) and former champion Anthony Joshua, who’s expected to rematch Usyk this summer, both turned down step-aside money to clear the way.
Instead, the 34-year-old Whyte is expected to bring a sturdy challenge to the 6-foot-9 Fury thanks to his 6-foot-4 frame, durability and punching power. Whyte, who was born in Jamaica before emigrating to England, is 12-1 since a 2015 knockout loss to Joshua and avenged the one defeat — a devastating 2020 knockout at the hands of Alexander Povetkin — by finishing him in their rematch five months later.
Whyte has been a sparring partner of Fury in the past and gained the champion’s respect throughout a series of difficult victories on the way up the ladder to title contention against the likes of Dereck Chisora (twice), Robert Helenius, Lucas Browne, Oscar Rivas, Mariusz Wach and former champion Joseph Parker.
“[Whyte] is a good fighting man. The fans are in for a real treat,” Fury said. “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.”
Whyte has been known for his often cantankerous ways in the past, which have included storming out of press conferences while protesting his purse. He pulled a similar stunt on Feb. 28 by no-showing the kickoff press conference because he was upset at not getting a percentage of the PPV sales as part of his deal.
The purses for this superfight are huge as Fury is expected to make $29.5 million opposite a career-best $7.4 million for Whyte. The winner of the fight will also make an additional $4.1 million, as negotiated by both fighters.
“There was no strategy [in skipping the press conference,]” Whyte said. “There are two sides to his story. You only hear one side of the story because one side says a lot of things. Because I didn’t say anything, everyone was saying ‘you’re scared’ and ‘you’re hiding.’ I ain’t scared of shit. I ain’t hiding from shit. Stuff needed to get done.
“[The fight] means everything. 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, but 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 told reporters he needs to be adaptable in order to defeat the slick Fury, who will hold advantages of five inches in height and another seven inches in reach.
“I’m going to make smart decisions, when I need to do what and how I need to do it, and how I need to approach what I’m doing,” Whyte said. “So that’s it. There’s no strategy here. That’s it. I just need to go in there and do my thing.”
Fight card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Tyson Fury (c) -575 vs. Dillian Whyte +425, WBC heavyweight title
- Anthony Cacace vs. Jonathan Romero, junior lightweights
- Isaac Lowe -135 vs. Nick Ball +115, featherweights
- David Adeleye -4000 vs. Chris Healey +1500, heavyweights
- Tommy Fury -2200 vs. Daniel Bocianski +1100, light heavyweights
- Date: April 23 | Start time: 2 p.m. ET (main event around 5 p.m. ET)
- Location: Wembley Stadium — London
- Stream: ESPN+ PPV | Price: $69.99
Whether he gets knocked out trying or eventually delivers the boom himself, Whyte has a decorated history against elite competition of getting inside and turning things into a fight. Given Fury’s pre-fight comments, it’s an inevitability he appears to accept, which is why his predictions have consistently been a knockout.
In many ways, Fury’s third fight against Wilder last fall was the perfect prerequisite for the challenge Whyte brings to the table. Although he entered following an 18-month layoff due to the pandemic and was forced to get up off the canvas twice in a wild Round 4, Fury dug in and stood his ground well against a bigger puncher en route to a violent 11th-round finish.
The performance from Fury was all part of his multi-year transition following his first fight against Wilder in 2018 when he surprisingly cut ties with trainer Ben Davison in favor of the more offensive minded SugarHill Steward, a disciple of his late uncle and Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward of Kronk Gym in Detroit. Fury also took his father John’s advice to heart of bulking up in weight as he put on more than 20 pounds between the first and third Wilder bouts.
The main difference for Fury in preparing for Whyte, as opposed to Wilder, is that Whyte is far less crude in terms of the technique he uses to set up his power shots. Because of that, Fury will need to properly mix his two styles as both boxer and puncher. And if his public workout this week was any indication, in which he worked out from southpaw for the entirety, it’s likely “The Gypsy King” has a few wrinkles up his sleeve to keep Whyte guessing.
In the end, Whyte pushes the pace consistently enough to where it’s either him or you that gets stopped. While that sort of challenge brings danger to Fury, it’s not something he hasn’t dealt with and the gap between them in terms of hand speed and technique should be enough for Fury to create a buffer for his power shots to get off cleanly.
Pick: Fury via TKO10
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism