Dillian Whyte had to come off the canvas and survive, but did so and outpointed Oscar Rivas for a solid win today in London, picking up the interim WBC heavyweight title and becoming mandatory challenger, officially.
Whyte (26-1, 18 KO) won on scores of 115-112, 115-112, and 116-111. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 115-112 for Whyte.
For the most part, the 31-year-old Whyte was able to work effectively behind his jab, using his height and reach advantages nicely against the relatively small Rivas (26-1, 18 KO), who failed to find the openings to really put together any momentum in the fight.
There was a real spot of danger for Whyte in the ninth round, however, as he was drilled with an uppercut and put on the canvas. He was still wobbly when the fight resumed, and Rivas went for a finish, but Whyte survived it nicely, got his wits and legs back, and recovered quite well in the rest of the fight.
For Rivas, it’s obviously a setback, and the 32-year-old Colombian, who fights out of Montreal, will have to figure a way back to contention, which is surely easier said than done. He’s going to be small compared to just about every notable heavyweight, and his skills aren’t so great that it’s easy for him to overcome that. But he was competitive in this fight, never in any real danger himself, and if nothing else could be a hell of a high-level gatekeeper going forward.
“He’s a tough man, I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Whyte said after the fight.
With the win, Whyte also has a technical mandatory challenger slot for the WBC title currently held by Deontay Wilder. But that won’t be coming next, and may not come for at least a year.
“We’ll see. Boxing, man — a lot of things get said, not a lot of things happen,” Whyte said, being pretty realistic. He also said he’s planning to fight again in November or December.
“He’s beaten another world class fighter in Oscar Rivas, he’s improving all the time. He won’t sit on the mandatory, because there’s always drama with Dillian Whyte. He’s now the mandatory challenger. That shot will come, it’s just a question of when,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “Before the end of May 2020, Dillian Whyte must fight for the full WBC title. He deserves it. He’s come from nowhere.”
Asked about Whyte’s possible next opponent, Hearn had no names in mind at the moment.