LONDON: Dillian Whyte may be the underdog in Saturday’s all-British heavyweight WBC world title bout with the incumbent Tyson Fury but the latter’s trainer says the pugilist known as ‘The Bodysnatcher’ can “surprise people”. Whyte is fortunate even to be stepping into the ring in a sold out Wembley Stadium after being shot – he once pulled a bullet out of his knee – and stabbed as a youngster. The Jamaica-born father of three – his first child was born when he was just 13 – said back in 2018 nothing in the ring can rival the dangers he faced on the streets.
“Growing up, I got stabbed in a few places, had a few stitches, I got shot in the leg,” he told the Sun. “But I’ve always been a survivor, that’s what I’m good at doing.” Whyte’s resilience in his professional career is attested to by staying in the game despite a two year doping ban and two bruising losses first to Anthony Joshua in 2015 and then Russian Alexander Povetkin – which he avenged in March 2021.
Those are the only two defeats Whyte – who came to Britain aged 12 – has suffered in 30 bouts. No wonder Fury’s trainer, SugarHill Steward, says the 34-year-old is not to be taken lightly. “I think Dillian has grown a lot,” Steward told the BBC. “I see Dillian Whyte’s jab has got a lot better. I’m aware of that and working with Tyson on that. “He’s not a special talent of a fighter, but he’s consistent with pressure and comes with a lot of power. “You always have to watch out for Dillian. He can surprise people.”
‘He’s the Bodysnatcher’
Whyte faces an opponent known as ‘The Gypsy King’ who is unbeaten in 32 fights – 31 victories and one draw. However, Whyte says having experienced the school of hard knocks he is well placed to produce an upset. “I’ve come to leave it all on the line. I’m used to taking risks and taking chances is nothing to me,” Whyte told the BBC. “I’ve had a lot of different fights in different places and fights where I’ve been the underdog. I’ve been through the mill already.”
Whyte says 33-year-old Fury deserves respect but he is not the second coming of the legends of the division. “He’s a very good fighter,” said Whyte. “He’s the only one of our era who’s won all the titles-he’s a top fighter, undefeated, big guy. “But I don’t see him like everyone else sees him, like he’s the white 6ft 9in Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier mix that’s reborn-I don’t see him as that.”
Neutral observers largely favor Fury retaining his belt but one, Dave Coldwell – who guided Tony Bellew to the WBC cruiserweight world title – has a caveat. “Dillian’s not going to go out there and outbox Tyson Fury,” Coldwell told the BBC. “Dillian’s a great body puncher. He’s the Bodysnatcher. “He has some vicious body punches. I think he has to do that in this fight. “But his feet have got to be in range and that’s where the trickiness of the fight lies. “It’s all about whether he can get his feet into range and if he can’t then this is a very tough ask.”
Meanwhile, Fury on Tuesday insisted he had “absolutely zero” business with Daniel Kinahan and said sanctions against the alleged crime boss were nothing to do with him. Fury’s defense of the WBC title against Whyte has been overshadowed by a heated debate over the champion’s reported links to Kinahan. The 33-year-old Briton mentioned Kinahan as a “key advisor” in the past.
Kinahan was recently named as being a head of the Irish Kinahan crime gang and hit with worldwide financial sanctions by the United States government, who have offered a $5 million (£3.84m) reward for information on the group leading to the arrest and conviction of its leaders. Dubai-based Kinahan, who has always denied any wrongdoing, is alleged to be one of the leaders of a cartel the US authorities accuse of smuggling drugs, money laundering and bringing violence to “the most vulnerable in society”.
Fury had avoided questions about Kinahan last week, but he finally addressed the controversy after Tuesday’s open workout at Boxpark Wembley. Asked if he had any business with Kinahan, Fury said: “Zero, absolutely zero. It’s none of my business. I keep my own business to myself, that’s it. Has it been a distraction? Not really, it’s got nowt to do with me, has it? If I say, ‘There’s a war going on in Ukraine’, and people ask me about that, it’s got nowt to do with me. I keep my business to myself. I’ve got my own troubles to look after with six kids and a wife. I’ve got a lot more to think about than other people’s business. In my life, I’ve got a man who wants to punch my face in next week and I’ve got to deal with that. Anything else is out of my control.”
Fury, who is co-promoted by Top Rank, was pictured with Kinahan in Dubai in February but played down the image. “A picture doesn’t mean I am a criminal,” said Fury. “I can’t control who is in the building. “There could be a criminal in this building now. It doesn’t mean I am involved in his criminal activity, does it?”
Frank Warren, who also promotes Fury, added: “Let me make a couple of things very clear – one, Daniel Kinahan has nothing to do with this show and, two, as Tyson said, he was unaware of any payments made by Top Rank to Daniel Kinahan.” At last month’s unveiling press conference for the Whyte fight, Fury said he was set to retire after the bout, before then taking a more non-committal approach when asked about his future last week.
Quizzed again on his retirement plans on Tuesday, Fury appeared to rule out returning to the ring once he has faced Whyte. “That’s it. Get a good victory here on Saturday night, relax, sit back and enjoy life. I am loving every second of this week,” he said. “It’s been a long old journey, ups and downs in my career, lots of ups and downs. I’m coming up to 34, 20 years as a boxer, that’s enough for anybody. There’s plenty of other stuff I need to do like look after my kids and wife and enjoy them.” – AFPM