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Dillian Whyte: The lifelong underdog who can shock the world and beat Tyson Fury
Dillian Whyte will finally challenge for a full world title when he takes on WBC champion Tyson Fury at Wembley Stadium this Saturday night, exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office.
At long last, Dillian Whyte has come in from the cold.
After years spent shut out from the heavyweight world-title reckoning, the 34-year-old will kick down the door to Wembley Stadium on Saturday night with visions of achieving his wildest dreams.
The situation that has played out in the years since Whyte rose through the rankings to become the WBC’s number one challenger has exposed the dreaded politics that rules the sport from within, paralysing one of British boxing’s biggest stars in a murky mire of unfulfilled promises and shapeshifting deadlines.
The frustration of chasing that elusive world title shot may have broken another man – but Dillian Whyte is no ordinary fighter.
Raised through hardship in his birthplace of Jamaica and then on the streets of south London from the age of 12, Whyte knows how to endure; his whole life has been an exercise in survival.
“I’m not meant to be here,” he admitted in a captivating interview with BT Sport last week.
I just want the violence to begin
- Dillian Whyte
Stabbed and shot on multiple occasions, the troubled young man found refuge in a boxing gym, transforming his life from one of chaos and danger to one in service of discipline and control.
He later turned pro despite a very limited amateur career – albeit one that included a career-shaping win over Anthony Joshua – and began forging a path for himself in the most unforgiving of sports.
His relative lack of experience is evident when compared to his heavyweight contemporaries; Anthony Joshua won gold at the Olympics, Tyson Fury grew up with boxing in the blood – even Dereck Chisora fought more times as an amateur.
It is for that reason that Whyte remains a work in progress in some aspects, even today, on the cusp of his 31st professional ring walk.
But while the finest pugilistic brains may be better placed to identify the improving technicalities of his skillset in the ring, his most potent weapon remains the grit, the heart and the ‘dog’ that kept him alive when his fate seemed certain for death.
He is at ease during the darkest of times.
“I just want the violence to begin,” Whyte told Steve Bunce from his Portugal training camp.
“I’m calm, I’m cool, but inside it’s just rage and violence. It’s just going off in my head.”
Mastery of the rage and violence within may have gotten Whyte to this point, but against a man who is undefeated in 32 fights, it is not likely to be enough.
To dethrone Fury, the WBC, The Ring and lineal heavyweight king, Whyte must produce the greatest performance of his career – but many believe he is capable of doing just that, including former two-weight champion David Haye.
“The type of opponent that you’d need to beat Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte has all of those attributes. He can punch hard, he’s got cardio for days, he’s got the desire and belief in himself,” Haye said.
“I think Whyte is going to pull off the upset. I think this is his opportunity. I think this is what he’s been waiting for. This happened at the right time for him and I think the fact that Tyson Fury’s so highly regarded by everybody works in Dillian’s favour. So, I’m going with the unpopular underdog.”
Stopping short of picking Whyte to upset the Gypsy King, BT Sport’s own Carl Frampton also tipped the former kickboxer to trouble Fury on Saturday night.
He’s got more than a puncher’s chance, I think it’s a bit disrespectful to say that
- Carl Frampton
“Dillian Whyte is a good fighter,” he said.
“A really credible opponent for a fight of this magnitude; he’s a good fighter. And he can punch, good left-hook, good jab, tough as well.
“I think if you build a fighter for [challenging] Tyson Fury, you’d build something close to Dillian Whyte. A shorter, more squat guy, aggressive, a hooker who is a bit wild. I think that’s Dillian Whyte isn’t it? He’s got more than a puncher’s chance, I think it’s a bit disrespectful to say that.
“He’s got bags and bags of determination and probably a bit of chip on his shoulder because people think this is going to be an easy fight.”
Even Frank Warren, the Hall of Fame promoter who is behind Fury’s return to heavyweight supremacy, hinted at Whyte’s potential to make it a difficult night for the champion.
During his exclusive BTSport.com fight week column, Warren explained: “I can’t see Dillian outboxing Tyson.
“I think what he’s going to have to do to win is take the fight to him, do what Wilder did in the early stages of that third fight. If he does that, you’re going to get a cracking fight.
“He’s not going to be on the back foot, Dillian, because he doesn’t know how to fight that way and he’s not going to be changing his style too much at this stage in his career, that’s for sure.”
Whyte’s refusal to take a back step, both in life and in boxing, may have been to his detriment at times in years gone by.
But he believes that here, on this week, at this time in his life, it will be the making of the new world champion.
“A soldier goes to war and does what he need to do,” he said.
“He turns up, he picks up his rifle, he gets his orders, he goes out and execute. If he comes back, he comes back. If he doesn’t come back, he doesn’t come back. That’s my mindset.
“A lion don’t hunt because he’s hungry, a lion hunt because that’s what he knows what to do.”
For more information on how to order this unmissable event, click here to check out our comprehensive viewing guide.