Fury vs Whyte: The Full Story

As Tyson Fury gets ready to defend his World Heavyweight belt against Dillian Whyte in the biggest British bout in history, we take a closer look at what's at stake

It’s been nearly four years since Tyson Fury boxed in the UK. Back then it was a big story that he was in the ring at all, a former champion who’d had it all but had let it all slip through his hands. Then he went to America and shocked the world again.  

On April 23, Fury, 33, returns to defend his WBC heavyweight title against fellow Brit Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium. The fight, which takes place on St George’s Day, is set to be the biggest all-English heavyweight fight in history.  

The rivalry between Fury and Whyte goes back years. Whyte, also 33, believes he has Fury’s number. But the unbeaten Fury is confident in the knowledge that he is one of the greatest heavyweights to have lived.   

“It has been a while,” Fury said. “I have been out and conquered America, won the belt and became a massive pay-per-view star.  

“Now it is time give the fans a well-earned fight at home. The fans deserve to see me back on home soil.”  

Fury Vs Whyte: The Press Conference | Ticketmaster UK

These are big days for British heavyweight boxing. Not that long ago, Britain was the land of the “horizontal heavyweight”, such was the lack of success of boxers from these shores against the best from across the Atlantic.  

For nearly a century, the only British hold on the world heavyweight title was Bob Fitzsimmons, who was born in Cornwall, moved to New Zealand aged nine and was a United States citizen by the time he won the world heavyweight title in 1897.   

But now the balance of power has shifted. This shift began with Lennox Lewis in 1992, and since then Michael Bentt, Herbie Hide, Frank Bruno, Henry Akinwande, David Haye, Fury and Anthony Joshua have all had a claim on the world heavyweight championship.  

All-British world heavyweight title fights aren’t a complete novelty, but they are rare. Lewis boxed Bruno at the old National Stadium in Cardiff in 1993, and later beat Akinwande in 1997. Akinwande beat out Scott Welch the same year, and Haye defended his WBA title against Audley Harrison in Manchester in 2010 in a fight best forgotten.  

Lewis vs Bruno would be comfortably the pick of those, although Lewis was nowhere near the legend he would go on to become, and Bruno, while something of a national treasure, had failed in two previous world title shots against Tim Witherspoon and Mike Tyson. He was stopped by Lewis and would finally beat Oliver McCall to win the title two years later.  

Fury vs Whyte is up there with that fight, if not on a higher stage. Fury has earned his spot as the world’s No.1 heavyweight. He won the WBA, WBO and IBF titles by beating longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in 2015 before stepping out of the ring for three years. In that time his life took a darker turn, and publications gleefully wrote about how he had veered “off the rails”. 

But in one of the greatest comebacks in sport, he returned in 2020 to claim the WBC title from Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas — his second attempt after their first meeting ended in a controversial draw. In their third fight, Fury went down and got back up twice before knocking the American out, in an impressive demonstration of his superiority over Wilder.  

Whyte, meanwhile, has been waiting a long time for his chance. He was first elevated to No 1 in the WBC rankings in November 2017, which would normally mean a fairly swift title shot. However, Whyte wasn’t willing to sit around and wait for his chance. Having had little amateur experience, he felt he needed to stay active to improve. He boxed three times in 2018, winning all three, but instead of getting a shot at Wilder, who was then WBC champion, he was handed a shot at the “interim” title. He won this title and defended it, but still his shot did not come. Wilder lost to Fury, agreed another rematch — and then the pandemic struck and put the whole sport on hold.  

When events resumed there quickly came a shock, as Whyte suffered a knockout loss to former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin. He bested the Russian in a rematch, however, regaining the interim title and a place at the front of the queue.  

Whyte and Fury sparred years ago, and Whyte believes that memories of what happened in those sessions still haunt Fury to such an extent that he expected Fury to turn the fight down.  

“I don’t pretend to be the best fighter, the strongest or the quickest, I just try my best,” Whyte said. “A lot of people think I am just a brawler but I like to look at the bigger picture as well. I’m trying to be a different fighter, you have to improve and adapt.  

“Tyson Fury always runs from dangerous challenges. If he thinks he can beat you and he gets in your psyche like with Wilder, he will take that. Does he 100 per cent believe he can beat me and Joshua? No.  

“He’s got better feet than me and he is a bit bigger than me, but he knows [what will happen]. I have spent time with Tyson Fury, we have sparred before, many times.”  

Stylewise, the fight promises action. The Fury that beat Klitschko thrived on being elusive, on using his huge size to stay out of trouble. But he has changed completely under American coach Sugarhill Steward, a fact evident in his last two fights with Wilder which saw him boxing on the front foot and throwing bombs. And while Whyte has refined his style over the years, he seldom takes a backward step.  

“I don’t hate Dillian Whyte and he doesn’t hate me, I am going to make him a lot of money, more than he could have made in a million lifetimes,” Fury said. “He should admire me and I have respect for him as my WBC mandatory challenger.   

“Dillian Whyte has got to deal with a ferocious thunderstorm. I am looking forward to it and will not underestimate the guy. I will give him all the respect he deserves and, at the end of the day, he is mandatory, ranked No1 by the WBC for a reason and I will do my best to get in there and do what I do.”  

Tickets for the Fury vs Whyte fight go on sale at 12.00 on Wednesday 2 April, and will be exclusively available at Ticketmaster, here.

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