Dillian Whyte continues his dogged and seemingly endless pursuit of a World title this Saturday night at the O2 Arena, putting his precarious position in the heavyweight pecking order on the line once again against undefeated Colombian Oscar Rivas.
Last December, Jamaican-born Whyte settled his score with Derek Chisora in spectacular style, stopping ‘Del-Boy’ in his tracks with a thunderous left hook in the penultimate round.
The violent knockout capped off what was a hugely successful year for Whyte, who halted Lucas Browne in similarly brutal fashion in March 2018 before outpointing former WBO champion Joseph Parker in July.
As such, he is regarded by many commentators to be one of the most deserving candidates for a world title shot, but such an opportunity has proved somewhat elusive for several months. Although Whyte has been offered eliminators with Kubrat Pulev and Luis Ortiz respectively, in addition to a world title shot, none of them have been on terms that Whyte has deemed favourable or reasonable.
Whyte, someone who has adopted compatriot Mike McCallum’s moniker of the “Bodysnatcher”, is now determined to force his way into a position where he can challenge WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who currently is the second longest-reigning titleholder in the sport.
Stalwart supporters of Whyte, in addition to the man himself, have repeatedly expressed their dismay with the WBC’s ambiguous ranking situation and will surely be gratified by the fact that the organisation’s interim title is at stake for the showdown on Saturday.
Rivas, of course, comes into this fight harbouring his own aspirations and will certainly be hungry to spring a surprise on away soil in what would be a potentially life-changing upset.
A former accomplished amateur who defeated Kubrat Pulev and Andy Ruiz in the amateurs, and now trains out of Canada, ‘Kaboom’ claimed a major scalp last time out in producing a dramatic final-round technical knockout against seasoned contender Bryant Jennings.
After largely being outboxed throughout much of the contest, Rivas – a thoroughly relentless and athletic pressure fighter – successfully connected with some spiteful combinations in the twelfth round and was able to force a stoppage against the run of play.
Indeed, many commentators have become increasingly inclined to believe that Rivas is capable of replicating these exploits against Whyte, especially when taking into account Whyte’s difficulties in dealing with someone of Derek Chisora’s calibre.
Chisora is also someone who features on this card against Polish former world title challenger Artur Szpilka, under the guidance of trainer Dave Coldwell.
Like Chisora, Szplika is a former WBC title challenger who has amassed a considerable amount of experience in his career against quality opposition such as Bryant Jennings and Deontay Wilder.
The Pole southpaw suffered a recent setback when he was eviscerated by Brooklyn-based compatriot Adam Kownacki inside four rounds, but has recently rebounded with a points triumph over fellow countryman Mariusz Wach.
‘The Pin’ will surely be aiming to capitalise on his superior speed coupled with his mobility in order to effectively outmanoeuvre Chisora, the bigger man, who looked decidedly underwhelming last time out in a points win over Senad Gashi.
The card also features a domestic heavyweight showdown between Doncaster cult favourite Dave Allen and Liverpudlian puncher David Price.
General consensus dictates that ‘the White Rhino’ is someone who is now on the way up after being thrown into the deep end on multiple occasions in his short career. After sustaining a significant amount of punishment in defeats to Dillian Whyte, Luis Ortiz, and Tony Yoka – in addition to a frustrating loss to Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth title – Allen is now positively reinvigorated with former IBF middleweight champion and close friend Darren Barker in his corner.
Doncaster native Allen is widely favoured to emerge victorious, coming off the biggest win of his career against Lucas Browne, stopping the Australian in the third with an exquisitely timed venomous shot to the midsection.
Meanwhile, former 2008 Olympic medallist Price was at one point tipped for big things before suffering devastating back-to-back knockout defeats to American former world title challenger Tony Thompson in 2012 and 2013. Since those defeats, the Scouser has largely operated around continental and domestic level.
In recent years, Price’s career can be characterised as “mixed fortunes”; a triumvirate of stoppage losses to Erkan Teper, Alexander Povetkin, and Sergey Kuzmin have been interspersed with victories against domestic rivals Tom Little and Kash Ali.
Fans are intrigued to see whether Price’s formidable punching power and physical advantages can trump Allen’s sheer toughness and tenacity. Both men possess overt vulnerabilities in different departments; something which makes it a virtual must-see for interested fight fans.
Cruiserweight hopeful Richard Riakporhe is up against Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith. The Londoner is managed by Dillian Whyte and has recently showcased his destructive punching power with consecutive stoppage wins over Sam Hyde and Tommy McCarthy, despite initially appearing to be outboxed throughout the early stages of both fights.
Whether he can make his power count against his similarly undefeated counterpart is a matter yet to be determined. Cyclone Promotions’ Billam-Smith also appears to be a formidable puncher, although Riakporhe is the marginal favourite despite the fact that the two men possess identical records of nine wins with eights knockouts.
Riakporhe is a rough diamond by his own admission, and will sure be looking to impose his authority and box with more assertiveness early on than he did in his previous two contests. Whatever the case, Riakporhe clearly possesses an athleticism and strength that could potentially make him a problem for some of the world’s top cruiserweights in the not-too-distant future, provided he is able to continue developing and refining his boxing fundamentals.
British and Commonwealth champion Lawrence Okolie – someone who has recently entertained a venture up north to heavyweight against Dillian Whyte in the near future – also features on the card in a tune-up bout, while light-heavyweights Charlie Duffield and Dan Azeez also collide in what should consummate a fantastic night of British boxing.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________