Dillian Whyte could be one win away from a challenge for boxing’s biggest prize – the heavyweight championship of the world – if he can topple Joseph Parker this weekend.
It’s a mouthwatering 50/50 pairing between two men with just one career loss apiece: both to IBF/WBO/WBA heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua.
In a fight that is so genuinely evenly matched, the difference often comes down to conditioning, mental strength, preparation and a game plan.
This is where Dillian Whyte may just have the edge. Whyte’s trainer, Mark Tibbs, who at just 49 years of age seems to have been around forever – and his father legendary trainer Jimmy almost has.
From pure fighting stock, Mark has been in the gym since he was barely able to walk.
His father Jimmy looked after some of Britain’s finest boxing champions and contenders, so it was somewhat inevitable that Mark would adorn the gloves from a very young age; picking up titles at schoolboy, junior and senior before deciding to punch for pay as a teenager.
“I probably did it all a bit too young.” says the likeable Tibbs in his heavy cockney accent.
“Sometimes I wish Dad had been a bricky!” he laughs.
As a professional he would stack up an impressive record of just two defeats in 25 fights, and while winning his last 3 fights, and looking on the verge of domestic titles, he decided to take a year out of boxing at just 24-years-of-age.
“A year turned into two, five, then ten – and then it was over.” said Tibbs, with more than a hint of regret.
“I was always in the gym though and started helping Dad out on the pads with Billy Joe (Saunders), Colin Lynes and loads of other guys.”
In December 2015 he would get a phone call from Brixton heavyweight Dillian Whyte which would turn out to be the challenge Tibbs had been waiting for.
Whyte had just been knocked out by bitter rival Anthony Joshua in seven rounds in an unsuccessful challenge for the vacant British and Commonwealth titles.
He did, however, manage to wobble the former 2012 Olympic Gold medallist in the second round with a chopping left hook; hurting Joshua for the first time in his career to that point.
“Dillian invited me to his training base at Loughborough university to see if I might be interested in training him.” said Tibbs.
The rest, as they say, is history.
It has been steady progress and improvement with seven consecutive victories since the Joshua reverse, and Tibbs is very upbeat.
“The big man is a great worker.” he says.
“He [Whyte] listens, he puts in the work and the miles like no other fighter I know. He really wants it!”
In Whyte’s last fight at London’s O2 Arena, he was in top form; totally outclassing a somewhat poor Lucas Browne in an impressive six round beatdown. By all account, it was Whyte’s most complete performance to date – and the input from Tibbs bears no small part in the win.
Tibbs is a realist and always honest with his fighters: and DillIan is no exception.
”This is his toughest fight.” Tibbs stated, completely focused on the task at hand.
“Parker is a former World heavyweight champion. He’s quick and strong with a good engine – but I’ve seen the weaknesses and we have a game plan to win.” he continued.
When asked just how far he feels his brash Brixton charge can go – the answer is no surprise.
“We have come too far not to get the prize: we have worked too hard.”
If Whyte does indeed defeat Joseph Parker, he will likely get his opportunity to contest for the World heavyweight championship.
After speaking with Mark Tibbs, I know who I would want in my corner…
Article by: Glenn McCrory
Follow Glenn on Twitter at: @Glenn_McCrory