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Dillian Whyte said to be close to deal with Top Rank and ESPN

Top Rank and ESPN are reportedly close to further beefing up their heavyweight offerings.

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Dillian Whyte v Dereck Chisora 2 - Heavyweight Boxing Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Dillian Whyte looks to be close to signing a deal with Top Rank and ESPN, a move that would significantly strengthen ESPN’s heavyweight offerings going forward.

Whyte (25-1, 18 KO) has become a top five or so fighter in the division. He lost a grudge match with Anthony Joshua back in 2015, before Joshua became a world champion, and has won nine straight fights since then.

In 2018, the 30-year-old Whyte solidified himself as a legitimate contender in the division, beating Lucas Browne, Joseph Parker, and Dereck Chisora.

It was thought that Whyte was headed for an April 13 rematch with Joshua at Wembley Stadium, but ultimately he priced himself out of that fight, which he’s said he doesn’t regret. Joshua has moved on to a June 1 date with Jarrell Miller at Madison Square Garden instead.

Whyte then fully turned his attention to Deontay Wilder and the WBC heavyweight title, the only recognized belt in the division that Joshua doesn’t hold. Whyte was ordered to face Dominic Breazeale for the “interim” WBC title, while Wilder took care of business in an ordered rematch with Tyson Fury.

But then Fury signed with ESPN and Top Rank, and stepped away from the rematch. The WBC then scrambled, and since Breazeale was already technically the mandatory challenger, he’s been ordered to face Wilder now, which is expected to happen on May 18.

So Whyte turned down the Joshua rematch, and wound up odd man out in the WBC situation. And signing with Top Rank and ESPN doesn’t have a straight path to a world title shot, either, other than a potential fight with Fury, still seen by some as the lineal champion of the division. You could argue that’s the most important thing of all, but that’s diehard boxing fan talk. Fury has no belts, and that’s probably a little harder to sell to the general public.

But the big thing is really the money, and Whyte would surely be getting a good deal of it from Top Rank and ESPN. He’s known to have taken meetings with various players recently — ESPN, DAZN, Showtime, Al Haymon — and it looks like he’s decided this is the best option. They must have given him a good plan for his future. That or he negotiated himself into taking a consolation prize.

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