Dillian Whyte: I’m being ‘frozen out’ of title shot
Heavyweight boxer Dillian Whyte is nicknamed “the Body Snatcher” but so far he’s not had the chance to snatch a world title.
The 30-year-old is highly ranked with three of the sport’s governing bodies and has had 26 professional fights – 25 of which he’s won.
But Dillian, from south London, has yet to fight for a world title and he believes the World Boxing Council (WBC) has a role to play in this.
“I think they’re just trying to freeze me out for as long as they can, hoping I’ll get older and get demotivated,” Dillian tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
The WBC denies it’s holding him back, saying it’s openly following the rules.
Newsbeat has followed the boxer for the last eight months to see if he could secure the fight that could make him champion of the world.
We filmed him at his training camp at Loughborough University, saw him preparing for a big fight and met his friends and family for the documentary Dillian Whyte: Fighting To Be Champ.
Dillian is hard working and determined, but also very funny.
And while nothing will come between him and his training regime, he’s always laughing and joking with those around him.
But one thing you realise is that he just wants the chance to compete for a heavyweight world title – something that’s not happened yet.
Boxing is a mysterious business and it seems that being smart in the ring isn’t enough.
“He’s been royally stitched-up,” says BBC Radio 5 Live boxing pundit Steve Bunce.
“If you wanna go back through history, you have to go back to about the late 50s or early 60s to find guys who were overlooked for as long as Dillian.”
Steve believes the boxer is being ignored “because people know he can beat them”.
Dillian Whyte is one of Britain’s biggest names in boxing – behind the likes of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.
2018 was an amazing year for the heavyweight and after beating Lucas Browne, Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora, it seemed a world title shot was inevitable.
So why is he still waiting?
One of the biggest fights boxing fans would like to see is an Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte rematch – they last fought in 2015 and Joshua won in the seventh round.
Joshua currently holds three heavyweight world titles – the WBO, the WBA and the IBF – and during our filming it looked like a rematch could be on the cards.
Wembley Stadium was booked for 13 April and negotiations were going back and forth between the two camps.
Joshua’s team came to Dillian’s with a few offers but he turned them down.
So why did he reject the opportunity he’d be working towards for so long?
Dillian says it’s because he was offered “rubbish” money and he knows his “value”.
“You can’t offer [Tyson] Fury £15m and offer me £4m,” he says.
“Fury’s not three times the draw that I am. I know what value I bring. Of course I believe I can become world champion, anything could happen.
“Of course I believe I can beat him.”
If Dillian had accepted, it certainly would’ve made his promoter Eddie Hearn’s life easier.
“I really wanted him to fight AJ because he puts me under so much pressure to fight for the world title, that would have been me finally saying ‘Leave me alone, right go!'” he tells Newsbeat.
“But he’s playing the long game, he’s backing himself, whereas others would have gone – where do I sign?”
The other route Dillian can follow to try to become a heavyweight world champion is to fight Deontay Wilder – who holds the WBC title.
Currently Dillian is the WBC’s most highly-ranked boxer and holds its silver title – so you’d expect he’d be in with a chance of fighting Wilder.
But boxing is anything but straightforward.
In February, the WBC ordered Dillian to fight a US boxer called Dominic Breazeale in order to determine who’d be next to challenge Wilder for his world title.
This was controversial, given Dillian was already above Breazeale in the rankings.
However, in March, the WBC scrapped this match and instead said Breazeale could fight Wilder for the title in May.
“The WBC is a joke,” says Dillian. “Boxing is a funny sport, it makes no sense. These things only happen in boxing.
“It wouldn’t happen in the business world, it wouldn’t happen in normal life or in any other sport apart from boxing.
“It’s just boxing and you get on with it.”
So how can the WBC do this?
The WBC says Breazeale signed a contract which meant if he won a fight against Eric Molina in 2017 – which he did – he would become the “mandatory contender”.
This means he gets the automatic right to challenge Wilder for the WBC title.
“These are not decisions that are made behind closed doors,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman tells Newsbeat.
“These are not decisions that are made against the rules.”
The WBC says it’s given Dillian the platform to become a celebrity name but accepts some fans might think it’s unfair that he’s not yet had a world title fight.
“When you’re following a fighter, you want him to get the opportunity and get the chance. We’re working towards that,” says Mr Sulaiman.
“I believe I’ll be world champion one way or another,” says Dillian.
Despite the setbacks, the boxer is as motivated as ever and looks set to fight in London on 13 July – although it won’t be for a world title.
“They can’t run forever and when I get my shot, whichever it is, I’m gonna take years of frustration and anger and stress out on them.
“So they might as well just give me the world title before the fight even happens.”
Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-47747786