Opinion

Has Eddie Hearn done enough to push the Whyte vs Rivas PPV?

Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte is ready to showcase one of his devastating punches against Oscar Rivas when the pair clash in the O2 Arena on July 20. Whyte has warned the visitor that even if his vaunted left hook doesn’t land then one of his other money punches will.

Murmurings on tickets sales (or lack thereof) last week suggested that only a few thousand had been snapped up for the sizeable Greenwich venue. Some observers suggested that a lack of interest in the main event has caused the slow uptake, while others believe fight fatigue might be kicking in as revellers find other things to do with their hard-earned cash.

Whyte is a spirited individual with plenty of personality. The Brixton resident would act as the perfect foil for a fight with Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or even a Dereck Chisora because he flourishes when working off his opponent’s character. Winding up foes, making himself a nuisance prior to big fights is more Whyte’s forte – it’s more of a suitable role. Asking Whyte to play the A-Side against a relatively unknown and unheard of fighter like Rivas (26-0) who, before his early-2019 upset win over Bryant Jennings, was just another faceless contender with wins over lesser opposition, might explain the fight fans’ inertia.

The fact that promoter Eddie Hearn is busy plotting his next move in America, coupled with Whyte’s overall relationship with the casual fan market required to buy up extra tickets and Pay-Per-Views, has possibly resulted in a slow shift. Dillian needs Eddie on camera, creating narratives, cultivating storylines, consistently selling his man to the British public. The most significant push Whyte has received of late came from [Barry] Hearn Snr talking about boxing slave contracts.

Savvy Top Rank boss Bob Arum also alluded to the fact that Whyte-Rivas was not selling well when he was busy explaining why the final details for the upcoming Vasyl Lomachenko-Luke Campbell fight, expected to take place in the same arena at the end of August, had not been finalised.

As for the main man, Dillian Whyte is unconcerned with outside-of-the-ring activities. The Jamaican-born slugger -who has become somewhat of a PPV stalwart despite not having fought for a world title- is rightly focused on his own job.

“Everyone I step in the ring with I believe I’m going to stop them, man,” Whyte explained in his usual no-frills fashion. “Sometimes I don’t get the stoppage, but I do try my hardest. I do what I need to do, and I focus on me. I train hard, and I don’t leave no stone unturned.”

Dillian also ensured his supporters that he would not be overlooking his Colombian foe, and always strives for improvements. Whyte added: “I don’t really care what these guys are going to do. They all have two hands and two legs; they’re going to do the same thing, jab, uppercuts, hooks, overhand, whatever. It’s a different challenge, different mindset, a fresher guy as people say.”

There is more heavyweight interest propping up the main event as two ubiquitous names continue to rumble along on the domestic scene. Big-punching David Price has huge vulnerabilities (including suspect durability, and a dire gas tank), but possesses enough of a dig to keep his fights interesting. This quality has garnered him a fight with David Allen. The latter is not great, but tough enough to ride out the early storm and wear Price down for a stoppage win somewhere in the region of the eighth or ninth round.

Headliner Whyte’s twice-disposed rival Dereck Chisora meets former Deontay Wilder victim Artur Szpilka further down the card.

Steve Wellings
Honorary graduate of the Prison Canteen. Covering boxing since 2005 ~ Wolves fan ~ wannabe boxing raconteur.