Unfinished business: Dillian Whyte says he’s far from done as a heavyweight

DILLIAN WHYTE has never been known to dodge a question during his professional career now into its second decade.

But the 35-year-old remained wary when asked where he was in London preparing for Saturday’s comeback fight with Jermaine Franklin.

“The gym is called Nun Ovyer,” he said with complete frankness. “The work of Sister Ovyer.”

However, Whyte didn’t intentionally turn a blind eye and in fact, he had every reason to keep his whereabouts a secret since he returned from training camp in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

While he was away, the son of his close associate, Dean Whyte, who was often referred to as his ‘brother’, was fatally shot in Brixton in an incident believed to be the result of ‘gang feud’.

“I won’t disclose where I’m training,” Whyte said. “I don’t want people to show up where I’m training. It’s a serious job.

“I’m in Luton. It takes me out of London and obviously there’s some stuff going on in London at the moment involving my family so I wanted to leave London to focus and not get caught up in all that. It’s a sad time going on so I just need to focus on my work and it’s a very important job.”

That’s it. This weekend, Whyte returns to the ring for the first time since he was knocked out by Tyson Fury in April, under the stars at Wembley Stadium. In a strange twist of fate, his first step to redemption took place a few hundred meters away at Wembley Arena.

Given the heartbreaking family background, Whyte suggested that such an important match, against an undefeated and ambitious heavyweight in Franklin, could have come at a bad time.

“Come on, man,” Whyte said, still without a hint of a smile. “This is my job and I have a job to do. This is probably a good time because now I just want to do more damage. I want to channel it. I laughed a lot, laughed a lot and messed up a lot but when I switched, boom, it literally went from laughing guy to howling psychopath.

“Listen, man, you and I can have a cup of tea and laugh, but if I have to hit you, I’ll hit you.”

Dillian Whyte (Boxing in the Mark Robinson Matchroom)

Since that night at Wembley Stadium, when he was knocked out with a second left in the sixth inning, Whyte has made major changes behind the scenes as he bids to reclaim the heavyweight ladder. The biggest of which was breaking up with former coach Xavier Miller and linking up with Buddy McGirt instead,

That meant setting up shop in Los Angeles for his training camp, where he worked alongside basketball and NFL players and lived out of a suitcase.

He added: “I just stayed in the hotel the whole time. “I’m not a good person, I can stay in tents or caravans, I’ve done that before and it doesn’t matter to me. I will do whatever it takes to give my best in this game. I’ve slept under a tree in my life, I’ve slept on a bench – the hotel doesn’t matter. I’m not in Hollywood, I’m in the damn Woodland Hills.

“There is nothing difficult about it. I am very adaptable and that is why I am able to survive and get where I am in life. You can take me into the desert, in Finland, anywhere. I’ve survived since I was a kid, that’s what I know how to do: survive and fight. It sounds sad, but those are two things I know how to do best.

Whyte has worked with Miller since his first clash with Alexander Povetkin in August 2020, when he was knocked out by the Russians in the fifth round in Brentwood, Essex. The two bonded in a successful rematch with Povetkin seven months later and continued their alliance in the battle with Fury.

“Everything has a time and place,” explains Whyte. “Xav is a good coach but that experience is lacking. Buddy was there: Brewster vs. Klitschko, Tarver vs. Roy Jones. He has had big hitters and if you watch them again you can see the information he gives and also the way he conveys it top level experience is the only thing that can give you that.

“My team said, ‘Listen, in the last few games this has happened, we need something different’. I am a loyal person and sometimes I can be clouded by loyalty. These people say we need to change and I trust them. We sit down as a team and look at it and make our decision.”
Whyte calls Portugal home these days – and he and Miller have done most of their training in a base there – but that all changed for his camp.

“I wake up at 7 a.m., have a little breakfast, relax, play some X-Box and relax,” Whyte said of LA. “Then the first thing I would do is go to the gym for strength and conditioning, maybe I’ll get some treatment or do some more movement or cardio. I go out to eat, then take a break before heading to Kaminsky’s Boxing Gym around 7 p.m. to work out, cushion, or work out with Buddy.

“I am learning a lot. He is a very technical person. He’s a good guy, a very humble man considering his accomplishments. I think he coached nine world champions. It was a good change for me.

“I have had good coaches but he is more like a teacher. Being on a bag or pad with him can be frustrating because he’s always stopping you from saying ‘no no no, we’ll do it like this’. A lot of boxers don’t change at this stage of their career because the idea is that now you do what you do: you’re a puncher or a boxer or whatever. But for me, it’s good to find someone with whom I feel like I’m making progress at this stage of my career.”

Overall about his LA stay, he added: “Overall, it worked out. I’d love to go back but we might have to break it down as it doesn’t always work with travel and different time zones and everything else. It’s not ideal. When you travel, you lose a week each way. It can be challenging. Flights are long, man.

“Some people might feel isolated out there but I don’t really care. I’ve been really isolated before so for me it was like anything. Some people are small-minded, don’t want to travel or see things. I love to travel and experience different things, understanding different cultures, mindsets and religions. There is a bigger life outside of boxing, so understanding the earth and people is an important part of that.”

But for now, Whyte, 35, insists he is only focused on boxing. He is the favorite to beat Franklin 21-0 (14) and if all goes to plan, he hopes to hit the box three times in 2023 after managing only two games in the past 27 months.

His fight with Fury took place on pay-per-view BT after Frank Warren won the bid but the fight returned on a DAZN show promoted by Eddie Hearn. That suggests there is a clear path towards a rematch with Anthony Joshua, who is rebuilding himself after successive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

The rematch between the two Londoners, who clashed for British and Commonwealth titles in 2015, looks like a natural fight at this stage, especially if Fury and Usyk can sort it out. a clash of their own next year.

“I want to fight Joshua two or three more times,” Whyte said. “I want to take part in the best fights, challenging fights, and fights that give you extra buzz. It would be nice to be in a trilogy, I want that with Joshua.

“I’m still a free agent and this is a one-fight contract but this is heavyweight boxing, never plan another fight once you’re in. Of course I loved that fight against Joshua – he was one of three that I lost. I took revenge on someone [against Povetkin] and I definitely want to avenge the other two.

“Revenge for that for me is better than winning the world championship, avenge my two defeats. I had a lot of life left in me in this game. There are a few things to think about but I try to keep it simple.

“I don’t want to think about retirement, I’m not around. The goal has always been to be world champion and that’s what I’m totally focused on. I don’t want to think about anything else – I focus on that job, which is giving punishment.

“As a team we always say, when the time comes we will know. But I’m still healthy and I haven’t walked much on the clock. I still have fun and love going to the gym every day. I still enjoy sparring every day. Let’s see what happens.”

In fact, a shock defeat to Franklin would be hard to come back. Now it’s his job to get him back into the heavyweight rankings is everyone’s job.


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