Dillian Whyte admits he has taken a calculated gamble in facing Alexander Povetkin while on the brink of a long-awaited world heavyweight title shot.
The 32-year-old has been the WBC’s number-one contender for over two years and knows victory on Saturday night guarantees him a bout with the winner of the trilogy fight between current champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
But standing in Whyte’s way is the formidable Povetkin, an Olympic gold medallist and two-time world title challenger.
“He’s probably the most technical fighter I’ve fought. He’s beaten a lot of top guys,” said Whyte at his pre-fight press conference.
𝐌𝐀𝐗𝐈𝐌𝐔𝐌 𝐕𝐈𝐎𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄 🔞
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) August 21, 2020
“I don’t like to make predictions because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s a very experienced guy. He’s been doing it for a long time.
“I deal with pressure well. I could have had an easier fight but I’m still learning.
“These are the kind of fights you need to grow. It’s fight that I can learn from. It gives me an extra edge. That’s why I’ve got myself into the shape I’m in.”
Whyte is certainly in good shape having endured an enforced five-month training camp in Portugal, where he remained throughout lockdown after their initial meeting, scheduled for May, was postponed.
Whyte is more accustomed to fighting at a sold-out O2 Arena but he will face Povetkin behind closed doors at Matchroom HQ in Essex.
However, he added: “When the bell goes it doesn’t matter if there’s 100,000 people there, or one person. I’ll get locked in, zoned in and focused on getting the job done.”
The mandatory challenger spot would go to 40-year-old Povetkin should he pull off a victory.
The Russian has lost just twice in 40 fights, against Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
He said: “I took my responsibility for taking this fight understanding how important it is. It should be fireworks.”
The undercard sees Ireland’s undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor defend her titles in a rematch against Belgian Delfine Persoon.