You don’t often see a rematch where one guy is on the receiving end of a Knockout of the Year-caliber obliteration, and it’s the deliverer who looks like he’s the one who’s in complete shambles. Enter Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin 2.
There was an excitement about that heavyweight sequel Saturday on DAZN that, it turns out, was entirely misplaced. What laid beneath was perhaps a secret that Povetkin’s team knew, and a sad one at that: Povetkin probably was shot.
Whyte is bar-none one of the biggest punchers in any division, and he did plenty of punching of Povetkin last year when they first met. It was Povetkin who spent some time on the canvas, and not just once, before he erased Whyte’s consciousness with a perfect left uppercut on the inside in the 5th round.
And yet the betting money favored Whyte. Betting money isn’t always an indicator of who’s likely to win, of course, as it’s sometimes based on a fighter’s popularity or some misplaced perception. The word “fluke” was thrown around plenty in advance of the rematch, even though you really couldn’t do what Povetkin did any better. Still, the betting money here may have been based on something real, something the DAZN commentators noted: That while it was Povetkin who got the sensational one-punch KO, he very well might have come out of the fight worse for wear. One-punch knockouts are scary and flashy. Yet it’s the accumulation of punches that’s more likely to shutter a fighter’s career.
And look, Povetkin’s racked up a lot of damage taken over his 15 year career. This isn’t like a video game where every battle, the energy bar restores to 100% full.
From the outset of the rematch, Povetkin appeared out of balance. He reacted like he was getting wobbled even when nothing clean was landing. He dodged exactly zero jabs. To a shocking degree, when something flush did land, Povetkin remained upright, even firing back well at times.
That wasn’t enough for Povetkin to even be in the fight. He never was. And while the word “miracle” couldn’t be applied to what happened with the thoroughly professional knockout blow of the first battle, it was looking like that’s what it was going to take as Whyte applied intelligent pressure even as he occasionally winged lunging shots at the Russian.
In the 4th, a counter right spelled the beginning of the end. Whyte chased a shaky Povetkin from one side of the ring to the other and a few seconds after dropped him with a jumping left hook. The ref made the right call to stop it when an addled Povetkin stood up, but his corner knew there was no reason to take any more risk, throwing in the towel.
Afterward Whyte gathered a stool from his corner for Povetkin to sit on, which, classy, sure, but why the hell didn’t Povetkin’s corner have a fucking stool?
Povetkin should look at retirement, as he could walk away with one last purse worth nearly $5 million and a chance for more based on pay-per-view sales. Whyte hilariously didn’t say he wanted a championship fight next, instead opining that promoter Eddie Hearn is overly fond of giving him difficult bouts and that he wants an easy one for some big money first. But it’s really only a matter of time until the dangerous, vulnerable Whyte steps into the ring with someone he might KO or get KOed by, and we’re here for it.