On Saturday night at the Matchroom Fight Camp, heavyweights contenders Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) and Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs) will clash and unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor (15-0, 6 KOs) will defend her belts against Delfine Persoon in a rematch of their very controversial fight last year.
Whyte and Povetkin are fighting to stake a claim as the best of the rest at heavyweight and a potential shot at Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury in the future. Whyte’s performances have been a mixed bag lately, he’s scored a spectacular KO over veteran brawler Dereck Chisora but was behind on points on two scorecards. He had a good performance outboxing Oscar Rivas but got dropped in the 9th. He rather easily beat the faded Mariusz Wach but showed up the heaviest he’s ever been and struggled for cardio in the last couple of rounds of the 10 rounder.
Povetkin gave Joshua a tough fight before getting stopped in the 7th and followed it with a win over Hughie Fury in a pretty bad fight and a draw against Michael Hunter in a good one. Whyte’s gameplan should probably be close to the one he employed against Rivas. Keep your distances with the shorter Russian, box behind your jab and limit Povetkin’s opportunities to land his devastating left hook. Fighting on the inside like he did against Wach would be a recipe for disaster and give Povetkin exactly the fight he wants.
For Povetkin, it all hinges on getting past the jab and being patient. Whyte will probably have a edge in volume early and bank some rounds against the 40 year old, but I think Povetkin is the harder puncher and has shown a better gas tank going 12 in his last few fights. I think a Whyte decision sounds like the most likely result but Povetkin is a very, very live dog in what should be a pretty interesting fight.
Katie Taylor’s first fight with Delfine Persoon should have been the final touch on her domination of the lightweight division, an unification of all the division’s major belts. While in the end she came home with the belts, most observers didn’t feel like she deserved too. Taylor’s skill helped her take an early lead, but Persoon put in one of the gutsiest performances in recent years. The Belgian never took a step backward and never let Taylor have a second to breathe in the fight. As the fight went on, despite taking a lot of shots on the way in, she’d pay Taylor back for each one and by the end of the fight had badly worn down Taylor. After ten gritty rounds,Taylor escaped with a majority decision win that most felt was undeserved.
Persoon will likely find it hard to replicate her performance. Taylor accepted a close quarters fight in their first encounter but given how tough it made things for her, she will likely look to get on her bike and use her vast skill advantage to outbox Persoon without giving her the opportunity to drag her into a rough and tumble inside fight. Persoon’s infatigability and incredible tenacity should keep her in the fight and make it a good one, but I envision Taylor staying cautious to secure a decision and not leave any doubt this time.
Whyte vs Povetkin airs on DAZN at 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT and should be a night of fun, relevant fights with interesting implications for the future of women boxing and the heavyweight division.