Tyson Fury v Dillian Whyte: Fighters set for all-British heavyweight world-title showdown

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Saturday, 23 April
Coverage: Follow on live text, the BBC Sport website & app from 21:00 BST

On Saturday night, Wembley Stadium will host one of the biggest all-British heavyweight dust-ups in history.

WBC and Ring Magazine champion Tyson Fury will look to strengthen his status as the best fighter in the division. Challenger Dillian Whyte will aim to shock the boxing world.

Hype for the clash has only really amped up over the past few days with Whyte – up until fight week – not participating in news conferences or promotional events.

The 34-year-old was aggrieved by his share of the purse, but the topic of who is earning what and the politics involved can now be put to bed, with the focus firmly on who will come out top.

Fury has won 31 bouts, with 22 knockouts, and drawn one as a professional. Whyte has won 28, with 19 stoppages, but has twice tasted defeat.

In a true tussle of the boxer versus the brawler, BBC Sport previews the blockbuster bout by speaking to both fighters, former heavyweight champions David Haye and Joseph Parker and boxing trainer Dave Coldwell.

The biggest all-British heavyweight clash in history?

Joe Bugner’s narrow victory over the popular Henry Cooper over 15 grueling rounds at Wembley Arena in 1971 was watched by millions on terrestrial television, while 26,000 fans in Cardiff witnessed champion Lennox Lewis knock out national treasure Frank Bruno in 1993.

Both bouts are solid examples of all-British heavyweight clashes which captured the imagination of the general public but, on numbers alone, Fury-Whyte can stake its claim as the biggest.

A post-war European record of 94,000 fans will fill out Wembley Stadium, while the purse bids are the highest in boxing with Queensbury promoter Frank Warren successfully bidding $41m (£30.6m) to host the fight.

“I’m ready to rock and roll,” Whyte said at Thursday’s media conference. “It means everything to fight in my own country and for the world title.”

Fury, 33, added: “It speaks for itself. It’s the highest selling British fight in the history of our sport.”

Coldwell, who has been in Whyte’s corner in the past, believes Fury-Whyte is a bigger draw than Lewis-Bruno.

“Bruno was a big hero back then, like Tyson Fury is now,” he says. “But the Brits hadn’t yet taken to Lewis at the time of that fight.”

From bad blood to mutual respect

Whyte’s self-imposed silence had impacted the promotion of the fight. He did not appear at last month’s media conference which enabled Fury – ever the showman – to entertain reporters alone.

The challenger meanwhile kept a low profile while training out in Portugal. He landed in London on Monday and attended the pre-fight media conference on Wednesday.

After years of social media back and forth, it was expected that tempers may flare but Fury and Whyte, surprisingly, shared a great deal of mutual respect.

“He’s a decent bloke. A decent fella and he’s got good morals,” Fury said. “I’m not going to sit here and slate the fella because I’ve got nothing to slate him on.”

Whyte also did not dwell on any previous bad blood, saying: “He understands warrior code. He treated me with respect and I treated him with respect.”

The fight has been somewhat overshadowed by Fury’s links to Daniel Kinahan, who last week was among seven people hit with worldwide financial sanctions by the United States.

Fury had previously been advised by Kinahan but at the public workout insisted he has “absolutely zero” involvement with the Irishman, either in a business or advisory role and dismissed suggestions it has distracted his preparations.

“In my life I’ve got a massive man trying to punch my face in this week and I’ve got to deal with that so anything else is out of my control and nothing to do with me at all,” Fury said.

Will Whyte shock the world?

Whyte is a clear underdog but, as the boxing cliche goes, it only takes one punch in heavyweight boxing; and Whyte’s relentless style and vicious hooks pose danger to any opponent.

“He’s a good fighter,” Fury says. “A good strong solid man. He’s big, small, strong, tough, game. He has good punch with good power, he’s knocked out a lot of men.”

While Fury is undefeated in 32 bouts, Whyte lost to Anthony Joshua in 2015 and was then knocked out by a 40-year-old Alexander Povetkin in August 2020, only to avenge his defeat by the Russian seven months later.

But Haye – a former two-weight world champion – says past results have little relevance in heavyweight boxing, referencing Lewis’ losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman and Joshua’s shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.

“Anything can happen in heavyweight boxing and time to time an anomaly happens,” he says. “The way that Dillian has the best opportunity of winning is to get in close and turn it into a slugfest. I think he stops Fury on his feet late doors at some stage.”

Parker – who was dropped twice before losing on points to Whyte in 2018 – is acutely aware of how tough ‘The Body Snatcher’ is.

“He has power in both hands and will always come game and ready,” the New Zealand heavyweight says. “We haven’t seen much of him so no-one knows what to expect in terms of approach and what kind of shape he’s in.”

Is Fury just too good?

Outside of the ring, Fury’s comeback story from mental health struggles and weight gain has been well documented. Inside the squared circle, The Gypsy King is considered by many to be one of the most skilful and elusive heavyweight boxers of his generation.

Fury will fight in the United Kingdom for the first time since 2018, with his past five bouts – including the trilogy with Deontay Wilder – taking place in the United States.

Parker says although the champion has become a global superstar in recent years, he is not taking this fight lightly.

“I don’t think there’s any complacency in Team Fury or Tyson himself,” he says. “They’ve put in the best work they can for the fight.

“But I believe Tyson is going to repeatedly hit him with the jab and knock him out between rounds five and nine.”

Fury, modestly and perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, plays down his own credentials.

“I’ve been bounced off the canvas more times than a bouncy ball,” he says. “I’m not this untouchable boxer that everything thinks I might be. I’m just a normal boxing guy who has got lucky 32 times before.”

Haye – who was set to face Fury in 2013 before withdrawing through injury – has been criticized by Fury’s father for once again predicting a loss for the champion.

John Fury claims Haye would “pick Santa Claus” over his son and has demanded he be removed from the TV broadcast team.

In response to those comments, Haye says: “Just like he’d back his son against King Kong. I just say it like I see it.

“I thought Wladimir Klitschko was going to beat him in 2015, just like everyone did and got it wrong, and I thought Wilder all three times had the ability to knock him out, which he nearly did.”

Will Fury retire? Will Whyte become a global star?

Fury became unified heavyweight champion by beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, before defeating Deontay Wilder for the WBC and Ring Magazine belts in 2020

A victory for Whyte would not only stun the boxing world, but he will announce himself as one of the biggest draws in heavyweight boxing.

With a win bonus on offer and as a free agent not tied to any promoter, it will catapult him into international boxing stardom.

While Coldwell is edging towards a Fury victory, he says the hard yards Whyte has put in over the years could now pay off.

“He’s chased that WBC mandatory position and while he’s been mandatory for years he’s taken some great fights that have added to his experience, boxing knowledge and ring general-ship,” Coldwell adds.

Fellow Briton Joshua is expected to rematch WBA, WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk this summer and both Haye and Parker would like to see the winner of the Fury-Whyte challenge for the undisputed clash.

“It has to be the undisputed next,” Parker says. Haye adds: “I’m hoping Anthony Joshua claims those belts back and then we will have, without a doubt, the biggest all-British title fight of all time.”

But win, lose or draw, Fury says his plans to withdraw from the sport following this fight and will not be lured in by the prospect of capturing all of the belts.

“This is it. In the capital city. It’s the pinnacle of it all,” Fury says.

“There’s no amount of money or belts I haven’t already won or I haven’t already got that will bring me back.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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