Dillian Whyte had a career best Saturday night as he took revenge on Alexander Povetkin with a stunning knockout victory that added new life to a thriving heavyweight division.
The Body Snatcher was under tremendous pressure after last year’s devastating knockout defeat to the Russian, but he regained his WBC Interim Champion status with a fourth-round win.
His performance was a timely reminder of his undisputed quality, and after the defeats to Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. the Brixton fighter is now perhaps first in line to fight the winner of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.
The British heavyweight couple have signed a two-fight deal for the title of undisputed heavyweight champion, although there are some notable details that need to be ironed out such as location and dates.
As Whyte throws his name back into the mix, Sportsmail takes you through his potential up-and-coming opponents.
Dillian Whyte regained WBC interim heavyweight title with victory over Alexander Povetkin
Povetkin was unable to survive a fourth-round attack on Whyte on Saturday night
The heavyweight landscape
First, it is crucial to analyze the state of the heavyweight division as things stand today.
It’s Joshua and Fury standing alone at the top of the division, with their impending bouts to finally and officially dictate who the heavyweight king really is.
Among them, there is a plethora of competitors vying for a shot at a heavyweight title, with Whyte’s victory reigniting the division.
While another Povetkin victory would have made for a remarkable story, it might have left the division quite stale. The well-mannered Russian is now 41 years old, and with Joshua and Fury tied up, he’d be even further from his best by the time a title shot came.
While Povetkin is always an entertaining fighter, the possibility of Whyte taking on the likes of Wilder, Ruiz or even Oleksandr Usyk is a delightful prospect.
And while a title shot may still be a long way off for Whyte, he now has a slew of opponents at his disposal.
Dillian Whyte v Deontay Wilder
Deontay Wilder has not fought since his defeat to Tyson Fury in February 2020
Dillian Whyte 2021 Opponent Opportunities
Deontay Wilder: 2/1
Andy Ruiz Jr: 3/1
Trevor Bryan: 4/1
Luis Ortiz: 8/1
Oleksandr Usyk: 10/1
Alexander Povetkin: 14/1
Michael Hunter: 14/1
Derek Chisora: 14/1
Tyson Fury: 20/1
Anthony Joshua: 20/1
Joe Joyce: 20/1
* Supplied by Betfair
While not for lack of effort, Whyte was unable to secure a world title prior to his shocking defeat to Povetkin – despite being a WBC mandatory challenger for over 1,000 days.
And while he got himself into trouble again with Saturday’s performance, the WBC-band will likely be out of reach thanks to Joshua and Fury’s double-header.
However, there are a few more options available for Whyte, with Wilder perhaps at the top of the list.
Whyte had called for a fight with the American for years prior to his defeat to Fury. While it would no longer be for a world title, it is a fight that would still make sense as a final eliminator, with promoter Eddie Hearn insisting he’d like to make it before the summer.
“We were calling for the Deontay Wilder fight for a long time,” Hearn told Sky Sports Box Office in the aftermath of Whyte’s victory on Saturday.
He actually drove Dillian Whyte a DM and said to him, ‘I’ll never give you that fight,’ and now that he’s been knocked out, he’s calling for the fight with Dillian Whyte.
“For me that’s a stadium fight, that’s a colossal fight.”
He added, ‘I’d love to get him (Whyte) back soon in the summer, maybe go to the United States and have a big fight too.’
The problem with the Wilder fight is that the American’s intentions remain unclear after his brutal defeat to Fury last year.
The 35-year-old has yet to return to the ring, and while there is talk of a possible match with Andy Ruiz Jr, it remains to be seen whether Wilder will jump right back into a top-level fight – or even come back all the way.
However, there are rumors of a possibly imminent comeback fight against Charles Martin or Robert Helenius.
Dillian Whyte vs Andy Ruiz Jr
Andy Ruiz Jr has been tremendously shortened prior to his comeback fight against Chris Arreola
Andy Ruiz Jr, who will make his return to the ring against Chris Arreola on May 1, is another intriguing match for Whyte.
The Mexican shocked the world with his dramatic knockout win over Anthony Joshua in 2019, but he looked overweight and out of his kind when the Brit won a unanimous decision in their rematch last year.
However, Ruiz appears to have lost significant weight prior to his comeback, and a promising performance against Arreola would certainly put his name back on the map.
The duel between Whyte and Ruiz would be monumental for both fighters, with a victory – especially one in an impressive way – that would catapult the winner to a world title.
It’s a fight that would be particularly challenging to predict, with Ruiz proving his world-class credentials against Joshua, who failed to deliver a break in either of their two encounters.
It’s also a fight that would likely have a nice build-up, with the pair exchanging a war of words in the past, with Whyte revealing last year that Ruiz had turned down a big-money bid ahead of the Povetkin defeat.
Dillian Whyte v Trevor Bryan
Whyte insisted after the fight that he has now earned the right to have an easier fight
Now, Trevor Bryan is certainly not a name as well known as Wilder or Ruiz, but he might represent the match we’ll likely see next.
Whyte is known for taking on all challengers, and while it is a very laudable trait, and while he has seen some top tier opponents, The Body Snatcher has also regularly put himself in jeopardy.
That ultimately proved costly in his first meeting with Povetkin, where his defeat cost him his mandatory WBC position.
Despite holding the regular WBA title, Bryan has yet to fight someone of note. In what was his only fight in the past three years, he won the title by handing Bermane Stiverne his fourth loss in five games in January.
Whyte, who stated after the Povetkin fight that he deserved the right to take on a less risky fight, said: “I would like to fight Trevor Bryan for the WBA world title.
That’s the same belt that David Haye and many other champions held, so I’d love to fight for that. It would be a great opportunity. ‘
Dillian Whyte to Alexander Povetkin
Whyte (right) and Povetkin (left) showed each other a lot of respect after Saturday’s game
While less likely, another potential fight for Whyte is a trilogy fight with Povetkin.
After beating the Russian on Saturday night, Whyte insisted that he give his formidable foe one more try.
He said, ‘I made him pay. I was done immediately (after the last fight). I am sorry that it is not ready in the first round.
‘If he wants a retake, I’ll do it again. The first time I shouldn’t have lost. I made a foolish mistake and paid for it.
‘I got it through this time and then said’ let me relax ‘. He is an Olympic gold medalist. I’m happy.’
While a trilogy fight could really put Whyte’s shocking defeat in bed, Saturday’s win’s manner makes it highly unlikely we’ll see the pair lock in again.
Whyte was in full control in their first fight, knocking Povetkin down twice in the fourth round, but was sent to the canvas with an angry left uppercut in the fifth round.
This time, however, Whyte dominated again, but had clearly learned from the first meeting. He was patient, and in reality, Povetkin never looked like a threat.
Dillian Whyte v Oleksandr Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk (right) showed his class last year with a point win over Derek Chisora (left)
The last potential opponent we’ll be looking at is Oleksandr Usyk, who is the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua’s WBO band.
With Joshua and Fury pitted against each other, Usyk is negotiating to step aside and fight British Joe Joyce for the WBO interim heavyweight title.
Usyk has yet to make a final decision on the fight, however, as he turned down a bid he and his team said was “ unsuitable. ”
Should the negotiations between Joyce and Usyk fail, a match between the Ukrainian and Whyte would certainly be interesting.
Usyk was comfortable beating Derek Chisora in his first proper heavyweight bout, but it wasn’t a spectacular display in any form.
Whyte was certainly not impressed. Speaking on the AK & Barak Show on DAZN, he said, “As a heavyweight… Who has he fought with heavyweight? Derek Chisora?
“Like, come on, like… Derek Chisora has been over for a few years now. You know, I beat Derek Chisora twice. ‘
He added: ‘Obviously Usyk was struggling with him, you know what I mean. In that fight Usyk fought in fear. He was just, prick a little and run away. He never, he never got Chisora in trouble. ‘