Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte: Fighters set for British heavyweight world title showdown

How Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte went from good friends to enemies
Place: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Saturday April 23
Cover: Follow BBC Sport live text, website and app from 21:00 BST

On Saturday night, Wembley Stadium will host one of the biggest British heavyweight fights in history.

WBC and Ring Magazine champion Tyson Fury will be looking to solidify his status as the top fighter in the division. Challenger Dillian Whyte will aim to shock the boxing world.

The hype for the clash only really grew over the past few days with Whyte – until fight week – not attending press conferences or promotional events.

The 34-year-old has been aggrieved by his share of the purse, but the subject of who wins what and the politics involved can now be put to bed, with a firm focus on who will come out on top.

Fury has won 31 fights, with 22 knockouts, and pulled one off as a professional. Whyte won 28, with 19 saves, but was defeated twice.

In a real fight between boxer and brawler, BBC Sport gives an insight into the blockbuster fight by speaking to the two fighters, former heavyweight champions David Haye and Joseph Parker and boxing trainer Dave Coldwell.

Biggest all-British heavyweight clash in history?

Watch Fury and Whyte weigh in ahead of heavyweight fight at Wembley

Joe Bugner’s narrow victory over the popular Henry Cooper in a grueling 15 round at Wembley Arena in 1971 was watched by millions on terrestrial television, while 26,000 fans in Cardiff watched champion Lennox Lewis knock out the treasure National Frank Bruno in 1993.

Both fights are solid examples of all-British heavyweight clashes that have captured the imagination of the general public, but, on the numbers alone, Fury-Whyte can claim his position as the greatest.

A post-war European record 94,000 fans will fill Wembley Stadium, while purse bids are the highest in boxing with Queensbury promoter Frank Warren successfully bidding $41 million ( £30.6million) to host the fight.

“I’m ready to rock and roll,” Whyte said at Thursday’s press conference. “It means everything to fight in my own country and for the world title.”

Fury, 33, added: “That speaks for itself. It’s the best selling British fight in the history of our sport.”

Coldwell, who has been in Whyte’s corner in the past, thinks Fury-Whyte is a bigger draw than Lewis-Bruno.

“Bruno was a big hero then, like Tyson Fury is now,” he says. “But the British hadn’t taken Lewis at the time of this fight.”

From bad blood to mutual respect

Respectful Fury v Whyte press conference: We understand the ‘warrior code’

Whyte’s self-imposed silence had had an impact on promoting the fight. He did not show up at last month’s press conference which allowed Fury – still the showman – to entertain reporters on his own.

The challenger has meanwhile kept a low profile while training in Portugal. He landed in London on Monday and attended the pre-fight press conference on Wednesday.

After years of back and forth on social media, tempers were expected to flare, but Fury and Whyte, surprisingly, shared a lot of mutual respect.

“He’s a good guy. A good guy and he’s got good character,” Fury said. “I’m not going to sit here and bully the guy because I don’t have anything to ardor about.”

Nor did Whyte dwell on previous bad blood, saying, “He understands the warrior code. He treated me with respect and I treated him with respect.”

The fight was somewhat overshadowed by Fury’s ties to Daniel Kinahan, who last week was among seven people hit with global financial sanctions by the United States.

Fury had previously been advised by Kinahan, but in public practice he insisted he had “absolutely zero” involvement with the Irishman, whether in a commercial or advisory role and suggestions dismissed, he distracted from his preparations.

“In my life I have a massive man trying to punch me in the face this week and I have to deal with that so everything else is out of my control and has nothing to do with me,” said Fury.

Why will he shock the world?

Don’t Treat Me Like No One – Whyte

Whyte is clearly an underdog but, as the boxing cliché goes, it only takes one punch in heavyweight boxing; and Whyte’s relentless style and vicious hooks pose a danger to any opponent.

“He’s a good fighter,” Fury said. “A good strong, solid man. He’s tall, short, strong, tough. He’s got a good punch with good power, he’s knocked out a lot of men.”

While Fury is undefeated in 32 fights, Whyte lost to Anthony Joshua in 2015 and was then knocked out by Alexander Povetkin, 40 in August 2020, only for avenge his defeat by the Russian seven months later.

But Haye – a former two-weight world champion – says past results have little relevance in heavyweight boxing, referring to Lewis’ losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman and Joshua. shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.

“Anything can happen in heavyweight boxing and every now and then an anomaly happens,” he says. “The way Dillian has the best opportunity to win is to get in close and turn it into a slugfest. I think he stops Fury on his feet late at the gates at some point.”

Parker – who has been dropped twice before losing on points against Whyte in 2018 – is well aware of the harshness of “The Body Snatcher”.

“He has the power in both hands and will always be ready and ready,” the New Zealand heavyweight said. “We haven’t seen him much so nobody knows what to expect in terms of his approach and what form he is in.”

Is Fury too good?

Outside of the ring, Fury’s comeback story after mental health issues and weight gain has been well documented. Inside the squared circle, The Gypsy King is considered by many to be one of the most skilled and elusive heavyweight boxers of his generation.

Fury will fight in the UK for the first time since 2018, with his last five fights – including the trilogy with Deontay Wilder – taking place in the United States.

Parker says that although the champ has become a global superstar in recent years, he doesn’t take this fight lightly.

“I don’t think there’s any complacency in Team Fury or Tyson himself,” he says. “They did their best for the fight.

“But I believe Tyson is going to hit him a couple of times with the jab and knock him out between rounds five and nine.”

Fury, modestly and perhaps a little ironically, downplays his own credentials.

“I got bounced off the canvas more times than a bouncing ball,” he says. “I’m not that untouchable boxer everyone thinks I could be. I’m just a normal boxer who got lucky 32 times before.”

Haye – who was due to face Fury in 2013 before retiring through injury – has been criticized by Fury’s father for once again predicting defeat for the champion.

John Fury claims Haye would “choose Santa Claus” over his son and demanded he be removed from the TV broadcast crew.

In response to those comments, Haye says, “Just like he would support his son against King Kong. I’m just saying it like I see it.

“I thought Wladimir Klitschko was going to beat him in 2015, like everyone else did and got it wrong, and I thought Wilder had the three times the ability to knock him out, which he almost did. “

Will Fury retire? Why will he become a world star?

Fury became unified heavyweight champion by beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, before beating Deontay Wilder for the WBC and Ring Magazine belts in 2020

A victory for Whyte would not only stun the boxing world, but it would promise to be one of the biggest draws in heavyweight boxing.

With a win bonus on offer and as a promoter-unbound free agent, it will catapult him into international boxing stardom.

As Coldwell heads for a Fury win, he says Whyte’s hard work over the years could now pay off.

“He pursued that mandatory WBC position and although it has been mandatory for years, he took great fights that added to his experience, boxing knowledge and ring general,” adds Coldwell.

Fellow Brit Joshua is set to face WBA, WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk this summer and Haye and Parker would like to see the winner of the Fury-Whyte challenge for the undisputed clash.

“It’s got to be the undisputed next,” Parker says. Haye adds: “I hope Anthony Joshua claims those belts and then we have, without a doubt, the greatest all-British title fight of all time.”

But win, lose or draw, Fury says he intends to retire from the sport after this fight and won’t be enticed by the prospect of capturing all the belts.

“That’s it. In the capital. It’s the pinnacle of everything,” Fury said.

“There’s no amount of money or belts that I haven’t already won or don’t already have that will bring me back.”