Whyte v Browne Betting: Dillian's big chance to show he belongs on the world stage

Dillian Whyte
Focused and far more serious - Dillian Whyte in training
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Ralph Ellis continues the countdown to Joshua v Parker with a look at another British heavyweight trying to earn a world title shot...

"Whyte is [1.36] favourite in the Match Odds, getting backing from Betfair’s users because he’s nearly ten years younger and his record has more pedigree than the 38-year-old Aussie who learned his fighting skills as a nightclub bouncer."

Image is everything, said Andre Agassi in that infamous 1989 advert for Nike. It was a line that haunted him for years until he'd finally finished a career with eight Grand Slams to be regarded for ever for the substance and not the show.

The phrase came to my mind thinking about Dillian Whyte's fight this weekend with Lucas Browne for the WBC Silver heavyweight title.

Whyte's career already carries a good deal of substance, but it is still scarred by the image of the only one of his 23 fights he lost, when several of the posse of South London former gangland mates who were with him climbed into the ring.

They were angered by punches exchanged with Anthony Joshua after the bell, and it didn't really come to anything. But, together with his ugly feud with Dereck Chisora a couple of years later, it left the idea of Whyte as a crude brawler who might batter a few lower ranked fighters but be out of his depth at world level.

Ten years younger

It's a perception that Whyte himself needs to change as he joins the queue of British heavyweights jostling for position to have a go at Joshua again. He has to prove he's now a serious boxer, and this fight at the O2 Arena is the place to start.

Whyte is [1.36] favourite in the Match Odds, getting backing from Betfair's users because he's nearly ten years younger and his record has more pedigree than the 38-year-old Aussie who learned his fighting skills as a nightclub bouncer.

He'll bring the same one-dimensional approach that saw him win the WBA title two years ago when he was losing heavily on points to Rusian Chagaev but then found the strength to batter the Uzbekistan fighter in the tenth (He was subsequently stripped of the title for failing a drugs test).

To earn his own world title shot, Whyte has to show he can produce some quality as well as his own strength and fearlessness against the 6ft 5ins human battering ram who styles himself as "Big Daddy".

Whyte has more stamina

Read Oliver Holt's definitive interview on Mailonline and you get the picture of a man who has come up the hard way, stabbed and shot in gangland feuds as a teenager, but now a role model for kids to show there is a way out of drug crime on the mean South London streets.

It's a tale of redemption every bit as inspiring as Joshua's transition from trouble in gangs in his Watford home. It's just that somehow AJ has managed to create an image of a man you'd be happy for your daughter to bring home, while Dillian is still perceived as big, bad and trouble.

Whyte has come a long way already. That defeat in December of 2015 convinced him of the need to take his sport more seriously, to train better, to eat better, to prepare better. As he says himself, "Now I have the punching power and the stamina to go late into the fight."

A week before the big event of Joshua meeting Joseph Parker to unify their four titles, this is an intriguing contest with major implications for the next fights down the line. For Whyte it is a defining night to prove that there is far more to him than his negative image suggests.

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