Alexander Povetkin came in Saturday as a sizeable underdog against Dillian Whyte, and there were some that felt that he was on the back end of his career. He had lost to Anthony Joshua in 2018 by knockout and his last fight against Michael Hunter was a battle where he was in trouble early, but got through the fight with a draw through twelve rounds. On the flip side, Whyte was on a ten fight winning streak, had the interim WBC heavyweight title and was viewed as one of the top fighters in the heavyweight division.
That all changed with one punch.
After being knocked down twice in the 4th round, Povetkin rocked Whyte with a left uppercut in the 5th to send Whyte to the canvas and referee Mark Lyson called off the bout to give Povetkin a shocking TKO victory over Whyte to win the interim WBC heavyweight title and also capture the vacant WBC diamond heavyweight title. His record is now 36-2-1 with this being the 25th win by way of knockout by the 2004 Olympic gold medalist. Whyte loses for the second time of his professional career, now 27-2.
It was a fight where Whyte started off well with the jab and then worked on the inside landing body shots while Povetkin waited to get Whyte with counters and also set him up with feints. In the second and third rounds Whyte was first to the punch on many occasions as the speed of Povetkin’s punches were noticeably slower than in the previous fights that he was involved in. The confidence of Whyte grew over the course of four rounds, and Whyte landed a combination in close quarters at the midway point of Round 4 to put Povetkin on one knee.
Povetkin acknowledged the mistake and came forward after the knockdown, but before the end of the round he got caught by a left uppercut from Whyte to send him down to the canvas again. After that knockdown it looked like the fight would end in Whyte’s favor. However, 30 seconds into the 5th round Whyte got hit with a short left uppercut as Povetkin crouched low to get position and went down hard prompting Mark Lyson to forego a ten count.
It was a shocking end to many, but Povetkin believed that he could get the victory. When asked about how hurt he was in the 4th round he thought that it wasn’t as bad as people thought.
“I didn’t feel that I would finish the fight like this,” Povetkin said. “I was pretty confident in the 4th round that, even though I went down twice, it was OK.”
The punch that got Povetkin the victory was something that he was looking for in preparation for this fight. “(Whyte) was missing uppercuts from the left and from the right,” he said. “During my training, I was training on putting combinations around those shots.”
Now with the win, he holds the top spot in the WBC rankings. However, there was a rematch clause in the contract and Whyte is likely to use that after shaking off this unexpected loss. After the fight, Whyte asked Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn if he could get that rematch in December. While that may be a possibility, he has to clear his head and think about what went wrong in the ring.
Cover photo by Mark Robinson