When it was first announced that the four-show "Fight Camp" extravaganza was coming to fruition, literally set in the backyard of Matchroom Sport headquarters outside London, British promoter Eddie Hearn made it seem as if the entire showcase was built around the lure of one major fight.
That heavyweight tilt is finally upon us this weekend when veterans Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) and Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs) square off for the WBC interim title and the right to be Tyson Fury's mandatory opponent.
This Saturday's card, which will air on pay-per-view in the U.K. and be streamed in the U.S. on DAZN (starting at 2 p.m. ET), also features Irish star and undisputed women's lightweight champion Katie Taylor in a rematch of her close decision (and 2019 fight-of-the-year contender) against Belgium's Delphine Persoon.
The major intrigue, however, centers upon which hard-hitting heavyweight will catapult themselves into elite company among the division's best, including the unbeaten lineal champion Fury, former WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder (who is expected to fight Fury a third time in December) and unified champion Anthony Joshua.
Although Whyte, 32, readily admits his amateur pedigree can't compare with Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist from Russia, "The Body Snatcher" holds up very nice when it comes to his recent run as a pro.
A native of Jamaica who fights out of England, Whyte famously wobbled Joshua before being stopped during their all-action war in 2015. Since that fight, Whyte has won 11 straight including wins over top contenders Dereck Chisora (twice), Robert Helenius, Lucas Browne, Joseph Parker, Oscar Rivas and Mariusz Wach.
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"People forget I only had seven amateur fights. This is learning for me," Whyte said during the press conference to announce the fight. "[Povetkin] has been through the mill and seen every style but I haven't. I'm still learning and I'm in the deep end swimming with these guys. For me to fight these kind of guys is a massive learning opportunity. And listen, I believe I'll beat them all anyways, I just have to be in shape. As long as I leave the cakes alone, I'm good."
In shape is something Whyte noticeably wasn't in when he showed up at 271 pounds for his December win by decision over Wach in which he struggled at times. The fight came during a particularly testy time for Whyte following a failed drug test earlier in the year and a scandal he was ultimately cleared of.
Luckily for Whyte, recent photos from his training camp in Portugal have shown him to be fit and ready for the challenge.
"I expect him to be in good shape. What about the last fight? It happens with anybody," Povetkin said. "The most important is that you win. Maybe something didn't go as he expected but at least he won.
"I do understand this is a very important fight for Dillian but it is no less important fight for me and I will do my best to apply all my efforts to make this fight interesting."
Povetkin, 40, has deemed this fight his "last chance" at a world title after previously holding the secondary version of the WBA championship. He lost that belt by knockout to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 but is an impressive 9-1-1 since that fight, including a stoppage loss to Joshua in 2018 where he was competitive and had plenty of moments early.
"I think Povetkin is a great fighter," Whyte said. "He's a top amateur, Olympic gold medalist and former WBA champion who has only lost to two reigning champions in Klitschko and Joshua. It shows he can take a punch and give a punch. He still has a lot left."
Despite the lure of a potential date with Fury, Whyte knows he can't overlook the danger in front of him.
"I know stuff is floating around in the background but Povetkin is a dangerous guy," Whyte said. "You can never afford to overlook him and I'm not thinking about Tyson Fury, what's happening with him. I'm thinking about Povetkin because he's dangerous. He is going to come to fight and leave it all on the line. It's one thing where our DNA is similar."
As mentioned above, the co-main event may provide a similar level of fireworks to the main as Taylor and Persoon meet in a rematch of their absolute brawl from 2019. Taylor took a majority decision over Persoon to claim the WBC title and become the undisputed women's lightweight champion in just her 14th professional bout. She moved down in weight to claim the WBO junior welterweight crown in November but is looking to erase any doubt that she won the first bout with an emphatic victory on Saturday night. Plus, Chris Kongo is back in a welterweight contest when he takes on Luther Clay.
Fight card, odds
Dillian Whyte -360
Alexander Povetkin +280
WBC interim heavyweight title
Katie Taylor -400
Delphine Persoon +275
Undisputed women's lightweight titles
Chris Kongo -130
Luther Clay +110
Expect fireworks in this one as Povetkin, even as he has become more vulnerable to punchers in recent years (revisit the David Price fight), remains as aggressive as ever in his pursuit of early knockouts. The 6-foot-4 Whyte, who is never in a boring fight, will also hold advantages of two inches in height and three inches in reach.
While there's little question Povetkin will have an advantage in the form of technique and boxing ability, the combination of size and durability that skews in Whyte's favor is most likely what will decide this one. Without stamina being an issue, Whyte simply takes punches better at this stage in his career and is more than comfortable entering into a war.
Early body shots could be a key move for Whyte to try and slow Povetkin down. Inevitably, however, Povetkin will look to test his opponent's chin and may not recover from what happens next.
Pick: Whyte via KO6