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Fight set up for Fury but Whyte in no mood to waste chance after long wait


D

illian Whyte has waited years for his chance to box for the WBC heavyweight title, now the task before him could not be any bigger — either in the occasion at Wembley Stadium or the man in front of him in Tyson Fury.

Unlike the champion, you will not hear Whyte making any claims to greatness. He remembers all too well his early days in poverty in Jamaica and moving to south London as a young boy where he was soon involved with gangs and violence.

But Whyte is not a man wracked by self-doubt. This weekend might have been set up as Tyson Fury’s crowning moment, but Whyte is not the type to bow to anyone.

Whyte is a very different fighter from the one who lost to Anthony Joshua in a British heavyweight title fight in 2015, a fortnight after Fury had dethroned Wladimir Klitschko to take the WBA, WBO and IBF titles.

That night, Whyte had little more than his toughness and a good left hook. But since then he has transformed himself — developing a powerful jab, improving his footwork, learning how to close down the ring.

He endured nearly four frustrating years from being installed as the WBC’s No 1 contender until getting his shot, but that time was not wasted, as he took on decent opponents, improving as he went and gaining much-needed experience.

“Fury brings everything to the table, he is tall and awkward and rangy,” Whyte said. “He might come to fight and then I don’t need to worry about any of that. That would be great. But I am also prepared if I need to hunt him down, set traps and outsmart him. A lot of people will laugh at this, they don’t think I can do this, but I haven’t shown half of what I can do yet, because I haven’t had the opportunity.”

Despite Fury’s retirement talk, it would be unusual for him to bow out at the top and certainly those around the 33-year-old are not preparing a farewell party. That is not to say Fury is being anything other than genuine when he talks of his desire to hang up his gloves, but he has said such things before.

Tomorrow could be the greatest moment of Fury’s career. That should have been the case after he beat Klitschko but his views about women and homosexuals saw him reviled by sections of the public. His life spiralled out of control in a cloud of bingeing.

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The night the WBO took away his title after a failed drugs test for cocaine, he was booed out of Manchester Arena, where he was watching a friend box. He would be out of the ring for two-and-a-half years, balloon up to 28 stone and also be given a backdated ban by UKAD for a failed test for nandrolone relating to early 2015.

But there was something in seeing Fury as a broken man that struck a chord with the British public. While it was a struggle to sell tickets for a rematch with Klitschko in Manchester that never happened, his low-key return in the same arena was a sell-out.

Getting up from a crushing knockdown in Los Angeles to claim a draw with Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles cemented hero status for some. He claimed the WBC title from the American in 2020 in Las Vegas and then repeated the victory in a thriller last October.

Boxing in the UK for the first time since 2018 tomorrow, in front of a record crowd of 94,000, will be something new for Fury and could give him a high he will want to experience again.

There is risk, though. He might be tempted to put on a show, come out blazing like he did in his last two fights with Wilder. That would seem pointless when he has a huge height and reach advantage he exploits so well.

Fury at his best can dominate from the outside to claim the win by points, or even late stoppage. But he will need to be at his best to subdue Whyte.


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