Immediate rematches in the heavyweight division are often scrutinized. History isn’t particularly kind to heavyweight champions seeking instant revenge, with Anthony Joshua’s recent reversal over Andy Ruiz Jr one that bucked a trend of fallen champions before him.
In fact, on only three occasions was a heavyweight champion successful in immediate revenge of the ten instances in history prior to 2019’s Saudi showdown.
Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Lennox Lewis were the names that Joshua added his to, and fellow Briton Dillian Whyte is looking to learn from Lewis’ 2001 success in particular in his Mar. 27 rematch with Alexander Povetkin.
Sure, Whyte wasn’t a champion when these two first met inside Eddie Hearn’s garden last August, but the narrative of revenge in the most dangerous of divisions is still pertinent.
Whyte is broadening his horizons ahead of Matchroom’s “Rumble on the Rock,” and has enlisted the help of Harold “Shadow” Knight – the man who helped guide Lennox Lewis to immediate revenge over Hasim Rahman 20 years ago, also advising Joshua ahead of his rematch win against Ruiz. Knight flew out to Whyte’s Portugal training camp late last year, joining Xavier Miller in the corner of the “Bodysnatcher.”
Speaking to mybettingsites.co.uk, the 57-year-old trainer and former fighter underlined the marginal gains that he is trying to help Whyte find during this camp.
“I was brought in to bring some American flavour. To add that world championship experience, to add small little things to the recipe, to work on Dillian’s balance, to work on his jab and work on his defence.
“Dillian’s already like a pitbull, already like an assassin, so I’m just adding a little gunpowder to the mix; a little pizazz, bring some maestro to it, so the world can see he has taken it to another level.
“It brings some fun to the game. Don’t get me wrong, this is serious, there are big men in there trying to concuss each other – but we want Dillian to be able to use some of his weapons that have been dormant.
“He has them already, but needs to be reminded of them. He has them, but needs to ‘do what Emmanuel Steward would do’ - bring the fire and bring the smoothness out. Dillian already has all of this, I’m just adding a few more bullets to his arsenal.”
Knight is looking to implement lessons he learned from the late, great Steward, noting that his love of knockouts will actually help him adapt to what you might call the “Steward style,” and he notes that Whyte has something in common with Lennox Lewis:
“Without a doubt Dillian’s mindset reminds me of Lennox’s when he avenged the defeats. Povetkin threw a shot and it landed and knocked Dillian out. The mindset of Dillian was the same of Lennox’s when he got knocked out.
“They both said: ‘He caught me, I take nothing away, give them credit.’ That’s one thing I admire about Lennox and that I admire about Dillian — they didn’t blame it on the gloves, or a heavy suit, or there was something put in the water, they both said they caught me with a good shot, they accepted they made a mistake.
“The greatness of a fighter, that Dillian is going to show, is how you come back from a loss.”