IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s intriguing heavyweight showdown between Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin and Brixton contender Dillian Whyte.
Dillian Whyte, seemingly poised for victory against Alexander Povetkin last August only to get knocked out in a spectacular turnaround, gets the chance to put things right in their 12-round heavyweight rematch in Gibraltar tonight.
The oddsmakers expect Whyte to gain revenge. He’s a 2/7 (-350) favourite at Betfred. Interestingly, there hasn’t been much line movement. Even though Whyte was winning the first fight, Povetkin showed he knows how to deliver a big punch in the blink of an eye when landing that perfectly placed left uppercut in the fifth round. So, I think bettors are reluctant to bet Whyte outright as a fairly high-priced favourite, just in case lightning strikes twice.
This brings us to the proposition market, and there are many wagering options available.
The bet many might like is “fight not to go the distance”, because this looks the sort of fight where something dramatic could happen at any moment. Unfortunately, the “Distance — No” ticket price is prohibitive at 1/4 (-400).
Still, it would be a surprise if the fight made it to the final bell.
Last time they met, Povetkin seemed out of the fight in the fourth round. He was down twice and looked just about done. Sure, Povetkin came back to land the KO blow, but he is 41 years old. He was apparently quite ill with Covid-19 last year, requiring two hospital visits. That can’t be a good thing.
However, Whyte knows he cannot just steam into Povetkin. In an interview with Sky Sports after Friday’s weigh-in he emphasised that he will look to box intelligently, use angles and not stay right in front of Povetkin. He did, though, affirm that he will be looking to get the Russian veteran out of the fight inside the distance — but in a calculated manner.
Whyte’s weight of 247.2 pounds was good. He came in five pounds lighter than he weighed for the first fight with Povetkin. This suggests that he will be a little bit quicker and sharper than last time. Povetkin, at just over 228 pounds, weighed in some four pounds heavier than he scaled for the last fight but pretty much in his usual weight range.
But while both men look ready for battle, Whyte clearly has the appearance of the bigger, stronger man. He is nine years younger than Povetkin. Whyte’s demeanour is of a man very sure that he will come out victorious.
So, how about manner of victory? Whyte by KO TKO DQ is offered at 4/6 (-150). That’s not a bad price when you consider that Povetkin was almost stopped last time.
But if you have concerns about Povetkin again landing a blockbuster, the under/over (rounds total) market is worth considering. The most popular market has a 7.5 rounds over/under. Odds here are basically pick’em. (That is, odds roughly even, so take your pick.) If you edge towards the fight ending inside seven-and-a-half rounds, you’re looking at a price of 10/11 (-110). That’s a fair price.
Now, there is a chance that both men will be cautious, in which case the fight could drag on for several rounds. But even if Whyte is wary in the early rounds I don’t see him looking to box a careful, points-scoring fight for all 12 rounds, as Anthony Joshua did in his return bout with Andy Ruiz.
In the initial meeting, Whyte probably made a mistake by not trying to finish off Povetkin after the two knockdowns in the fourth round. He let his opponent off the hook, so to speak. I have the sense that if Whyte hurts Povetkin in the rematch he will look to bring down the curtain.
Historical heavyweight precedent shows that when a big man stops his opponent he usually wins the rematch. Not always, though. In immediate rematches (that is, no intervening bouts), Lennox Lewis, Floyd Patterson and, of course, Joshua, all turned the tables on fighters who had knocked them out, Lewis knocking out Hasim Rahman and Patterson blasting out Ingemar Johansson, while Joshua went the full route to achieve revenge.
I’m looking for Whyte to join Lewis, Patterson and Joshua by avenging his KO defeat. I think he will do it inside the distance and I’d lean towards the under 7.5 rounds. My preferred bet out of all the options available? Whyte KO TKO DQ at -150.
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.