By Trevor McIntrye: David Haye says Dillian Whyte’s opponent for tonight Oscar Rivas is similar to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. That’s a huge compliment by Haye to be giving to the unbeaten 2008 Olympian Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs), because no one else has gone that far to heap praise over the head of the Colombian. Rivas is expected to give Whyte a tough fight tonight, but few fans believe him capable of winning.
One has to remember that Rivas was selected at the #10 spot in the WBC’s rankings by Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn. He picked Rivas out himself. Aside from the mistake Hearn made in selecting Andy Ruiz Jr. as a replacement for Anthony Joshua to fight, the promoter has a keen eye in picking guys his fighters can beat.
Haye compares Rivas to Mike Tyson
“He’s like Mike Tyson,” said Haye to Sky Sports News.
Mike Tyson and Rivas are about the same size and build. However, Tyson had blazing hand speed, and huge punching power with either hand. Rivas’s hand speed isn’t what you would call fast, and his power isn’t out of this world. For his part, Rivas has a little bit of punching power, but he mostly gets his knockouts by landing an accumulation of punches against his opponents. Rivas’ best chance of beating Whyte tonight is if he gets in close, and unloads on him with a lot of shots to the head. The size difference between the two heavyweights will make it difficult for Rivas to do that. Rivas, who goes by the nickname, ‘Kaboom,” will be giving away 20 pounds to the 259 pound Whyte tonight.
At yesterday’s weigh-in, Rivas weighed in at 239 pounds. While it’s possible for lighter heavyweights to beat heavier guys, that mostly applies when the smaller guy is a big puncher. Look at Deontay Wilder, example. He recently weighed 223 pounds for his fight against the 255 pound Dominic Breazeale, and he destroyed him fast in two rounds.
Whyte couldn’t take the right hands from Wilder for long without ending up in a similar situation if he were to get hit by him repeatedly with right hands. In Rivas ‘ case, he’s not a monstrous puncher. He looks a tad bit musclebound at 239 lbs., and that robs him of his power.
Mike Tyson was more explosive puncher than Rivas
Tyson was a completely different fighter in terms of power and hand speed. When Tyson was in his prime, he was difficult to hang with for any length of time before he would knock his opponents out. It wasn’t until Tyson started slipping as a fighter that he suffered losses to James ‘Buster’ Douglas, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.
Although some boxing fans do believe Rivas, 32, has the talent to potentially beat Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs), but they don’t view him as a world beater.
Whyte and Rivas will be fighting tonight for the interim WBC heavyweight title on DAZN and Sky Box Office at the O2 Arena in London, England. The winner of the fight will be the mandatory or WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
The Whyte-Rivas winner won’t get a title shot straightaway unfortunately, because the WBC’s resolution is allowing Wilder to wait until May of 2020 before he needs to defend against the winner of tonight’s fight. Before then, Wilder will be facing Luis Ortiz in November, and then likely Tyson Fury in February. So there’s a chance that tonight’s Whyte vs. Rivas winner could face Ortiz or Fury rather than Wilder. But for most boxing fans, they expect Wilder to still have his WBC title in his possession when he defends against the winner of tonight’s Rivas vs. Whyte fight.
Should Whyte have been made the WBC mandatory already?
Whyte has been trying to get a title shot against WBC champion Wilder for the last couple of years, but he’s had no luck. The World Boxing Council has had Whyte ranked #1 with their sanctiong body for over 600 days. But when they attempted to get him to fight in a WBC title eliminator against Luis Ortiz last year, he opted not to take part in the fight. It’s unclear whether Whyte felt that the WBC would still give him the mandatory spot without him needing to follow their directions.
In hindsight, Whyte shot himself in the foot by not fighting Ortiz, but it might have worked out in his favor. Ortiz might have beaten Whyte, and then he wouldn’t have a shot at becoming the mandatory anyway. Rivas is a good fighter, but no one is lumping him in the same class as the talented Luis Ortiz. Whyte is getting a better deal fighting Rivas than he would if he had to mix it up with Ortiz.
One of the reasons Whyte has had to wait so long for his title shot against Wilder is because Deontay fought Fury last December. Wilder already had a mandatory challenger in Dominic Breazeale waiting for his shot at the WBC title since 2017. Unlike Whyte, Breazeale went along with the program in fighting an official title eliminator against Eric Molina in 2017.
Whyte has turned his career around since loss to Joshua
Whyte has come back strong since his loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015, beating Ivica Bacurin, Malcolm Tan, Lucas Browne, Dave Allen, Robert Helenius, Dereck Chisora [twice], Ian Lewison, and Joseph Parker. You can’t call Whyte’s wins over Chisora or Parker impressive ones, because he didn’t look good in those fights. Whyte struggled against those guys, and the outcomes might have ended differently with different referees and judges working the matches.
Whyte’s win over Chisora was controversial in 2016, and the rematch was no different. The improvement in Whyte’s game since his loss to Joshua is noticeable. He’s using his jab more, and focusing on fighting at a slower pace in order to prevent himself from gassing out like he did against Joshua. Whyte still relies mostly on his left hook to score knockouts, but he’s developed his right hand out of necessity following shoulder surgery in 2015.