As we get closer to an announcement regarding Whyte’s next opponent I thought i’d make a list of possible contenders and which of them i’d like to see the most. Whyte has been consistently fighting top level opposition apart from the Wach fight which was a last minute tune up just to get him in the ring again. It’s likely that it’ll be another fighter in the top 15 because from what Whyte said in a recent IFL interview hes going to be back headlining PPVs and for a PPV you need a good opponent. This obviously limits who he can fight quite considerably even more so if you account for the top 15 who already have fights scheduled.
The most probable opponent for Whyte is the long time contender Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1). Povetkin has been a staple of this era’s heavyweight division and has one of the best resumes of the active heavyweights, his only losses to Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko show that hes at world level though has never quite been able to break through against the very elite of the division. He has good wins against the likes of Carlos Takam, Manuel Charr, Christian Hammer and Hughie Fury to name but a few. Out of the possible opponents for Whyte I think hes the second best name and I would quite happily watch the two face off because I think their styles may gel well together to make it entertaining for the fans.
The only issues I have with this fight is that Povetkin is clearly not the fighter he used to be and after a grueling fight with Micheal Hunter you wonder what he has left to give at the age of 40. This fight is the easiest one to make for Whyte due to Povetkin working closely with his promoter Eddie Hearn over the last few years and also because for Povetkin this is the last opportunity for him to get back into title contention. Out of the 5 people in the running for Whyte’s next fight Povetkin would be my second pick due to his resume and how entertaining the fight would be for the fans.
Manuel Charr is a name that is brought up as a possible opponent for heavyweights an awful lot considering he hasn’t fought for over two years and wasn’t a great fighter when he was active. The only reason i’m bringing him up as a possible opponent is because he still holds the WBA regular world title and it seems like Eddie Hearn is looking for the right opportunity to bring him in as an opponent. I’d be disappointed if this fight was next for Whyte due to the availability of better opponents and Charr’s inactivity. At this point Manuel Charr needs to accept whatever money someone offers him for a fight and be thankful that people care about a WBA regular belt enough to give him big opportunities. Charr is my last option out of the five names that I think have the highest chance of fighting Whyte next and the only reason I would want too see the fight is to end promoters talking about him as an opponent for good fighters.
Michael Hunter isn’t someone that anyone expected to be a name in the heavyweight division but after putting together six impressive wins after his sole loss to Usyk he certainly is one. Hunter a 2012 Olympian is currently 18-1-1 with his last fight being a draw with Povetkin where I thought he was unlucky to not get the decision. Hes an awkward fight for any heavyweight due to his movement and hand speed which he has brought up from Cruiserweight with him. I’d be on board with this fight happening due to Hunter’s recent form which includes wins over Sergey Kuzmin and Martin Bakole as well as his draw with Povetkin. I actually think this may be a more competitive fight over 12 rounds for Whyte compared to the Povetkin fight due to Hunter being in his prime and also that his style would be hard for Whyte to get to grips with.
My issues with this fight is that for fans it could be quite a hard watch as I can see a lot of clinching happening due to Hunter not wanting to get caught after he throws a shot and also Whyte will want to use his size to tire Hunter out in the clinches. Alternatively it could be fought at long range for the whole fight with not all to much going on in the rounds which again wouldn’t be great for the public. It’s unlikely to be a war or see many heavy exchanges because for Hunter it makes sense to try and out box Whyte not out slug him. He’s my third choice out of five for Whyte but also deserves the fight more than the other four.
Agit Kabayel is an undefeated Heavyweight from Germany with a record of 19-0 and while hes relatively unknown he is a good fighter that fans should watch out for in 2020. Kabayel doesn’t have the deepest resume though at 27 hes beaten Dereck Chisora, Herve Hubeaux and Andriy Rudenko. The most notable of those wins is Dereck Chisora where he was able to out box and frustrate him to the point where pundits questioned if Chisora should retire. Kabayel is in the minority of heavyweights who’s power is outclassed by their boxing ability in the ring and this will lead him to success against many in the division. This wouldn’t be a bad fight though its questionable whether he will be picked as a PPV opponent considering how unknown he is.
I like Kabayel as a fighter but like the Hunter fight I think this could be painful to watch because Kabayel is likely to fall in and clinch after throwing combinations and also doesn’t really have the power to bother Whyte in my opinion. The other reason i’m not as interested in this fight as other ones is due to Kabayel being very inactive and by the time he fights Whyte he would have been out of the ring for over a year. For these reasons Kabayel is my fourth choice though I wouldn’t mind seeing Hunter vs Kabeyel at some point.
The final of the five possible candidates for Whyte’s next opponent is former world champion Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2). Before Ruiz beat Joshua few thought he was a top heavyweight due to his lack of discipline and his loss to Parker when he stepped up in competition. After beating Joshua people have overrated him as a fighter and think he beats most of the top 10 with ease. I personally disagree and believe that he’s likely to be in very close fights with all of the top 20 because he’s never had a performance where he hasn’t looked vulnerable in one way or another. In the first Joshua fight he was dropped and beyond that one punch behind Joshua’s ear he didn’t look all that great. In the Parker fight his fitness let him down and again in the second Joshua fight it was his fitness and slow feet to blame for the loss.
Obviously he has positives as well, hes got fast hands, good boxing skills and a granite chin which are all very useful against taller slower opponents. If Ruiz comes in shape he will be the hardest fight for Whyte due to his constant pressure and fast hands. Ruiz doesn’t have massive power but he knows where to place his shots to cause the maximum amount of damage like we saw in that first Joshua fight. I think both boxers styles would gel well and it would be interesting to see if Whyte took the front foot against Ruiz which no one has yet. Whyte would likely use his jab to pick up rounds while Ruiz pressures forwards however unlike Joshua I think Whyte would be drawn into a firefight which would make the fight entertaining. Beyond how entertaining this fight would be its also the best name thats available to Whyte as Ruiz is a former world champion who’s last fight broke the sky PPV record.
Andy Ruiz Jr is my first choice out of the five due to him being a former world champion plus how his style would fit well with Whyte’s to make an entertaining fight. This would be the riskiest out of the five choices for Whyte to take and he would make a real statement if he beat him. The only problem with this fight is whether Ruiz can be trusted to come in shape after he was ill prepared for the biggest fight of his life versus Joshua.