Record: 22-1 (16 KO) ... Streak: W6 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’4” / 78” ... Age: 29
Thoughts: Dillian Whyte, nicknamed “The Body Snatcher,” is still probably most famous for his lone career loss, coming in late 2015 to Anthony Joshua, but the 29-year-old heavyweight has made himself a contender of note since then, too, winning six straight including a dramatic slugfest in 2016 with Dereck Chisora, and most recently a dominant decision victory over Robert Helenius.
Whyte says the loss to Joshua improved him, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. He’s become a more refined fighter since then, still more than willing to get into a tear-up, or at least susceptible to being drawn into one, but a better fighter coming out of that one than he was going in. He credits adjustments made in camp, paying attention to the science of fighting, and being “less of the caveman.” He is no longer a straight-up brawler, there’s some craft to his game.
He’s also an engaging personality and has some star qualities. If he can continue to show that his improvements are a serious thing, there’s no reason he can’t challenge for a world title soon. But that starts on Saturday, when he faces Lucas Browne. It’s must-win for both men, probably more for Browne than Whyte, given the age difference, but Whyte isn’t looking to learn from another defeat, either. He’s ready to make his move now.
Record: 25-0 (22 KO) ... Streak: W25 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’5” / 77” ... Age: 38
Thoughts: Lucas Browne has never lost. He turned pro in 2009, just shy of his 30th birthday, and started really boxing full time in 2011, when he took to the ring eight times between February and December.
Browne is not a natural. There’s a sort of clunkiness to his style, even at his best, even in his better wins over the likes of Ruslan Chagaev and Andriy Rudenko. Whyte moves more fluidly. Browne boxes like a 6’5” bouncer with some training under his belt. That’s not even meant as a knock — he’s made it work for himself, after all, and if he were truly incapable of boxing, he would have lost back in 2013 to James Toney. Yeah, Toney was washed up, but Toney’s forgotten more about boxing technique than most fighters will ever learn. He’s good enough to get by, basically, and then comes the fact that he’s got serious power.
Like Whyte, Browne has plenty of personality. He’s more a villain, perhaps, even compared to Whyte, who is not exactly a stereotypical knight in shining armor himself. At 38, his time is now or never. He’s had issues with drug tests in the past, but nothing has actually affected his record — his “controversial” win over Chagaev is still a win in the record books, and he still took the WBA “world” title with that victory.
If there’s a serious concern about Browne going in here, it’s that he’s fought just once since that victory over Chagaev in March 2016. He was last seen in June 2017, beating journeyman Matthew Greer via second round knockout.
Matchup Grade: C+. It’s a well-matched fight, but not one that gets me particularly excited. I do think there is a good possibility of a slugfest, but we could also see Whyte continue to improve his skills and try to own the ring without taking huge risks, much as he did with Helenius. A lot of this depends on Browne’s quality after basically not having boxed in two years, and I have serious skepticism in that regard. And it IS a big fight. The winner of this will likely move on to something serious in the division, possibly a shot at Anthony Joshua/Joseph Parker or Deontay Wilder.