Whyte sent Povetkin on three sides of the ring with three consecutive blows in the fourth round
Dillian Whyte kept his hopes for a world heavyweight title alive by taking vigorous revenge on Alexander Povetkin with an impressive knockout win in his rematch.
The 32-year-old Brit showed smart timing from the start in Gibraltar before scoring a decisive attack in the fourth round.
A right hand sent Povetkin back, another sent him on the ropes, and a left hook hit him badly.
He found his feet but was rightly stopped to suffer his third loss.
Only Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko had previously beaten Povetkin in 39 fights.
Some asked if Whyte rightly had an immediate rematch after a terrible knockout loss to the Russians in August, but after four well-made rounds, BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Costello said his performance would “reverberate” in the heavyweight division.
“I’m just sad that I didn’t make it on the first lap,” said Whyte. “He’s a tough guy, but I felt like I could have finished early.
“I want the world title.”
Revenge, risk and waiting
A heavy left hook ended the competition on round four, giving Whyte his 28th win in 30 fights
Whyte will likely have to wait some time for a world title when Joshua and Tyson Fury – who hold all four main belts between them – complete the details for two consecutive bouts.
Losing August to crafty and seasoned Povetkin ultimately cost Whyte his position in line for a title shot, and a second loss would have all but obliterated his status as an elite name in the division.
This was the importance of the fight to his career. Late steps were taken to relocate him to Gibraltar so Whyte could avoid disrupting a 10-day quarantine in a Covid-secured British combat bubble.
Private planes have been chartered for stakeholders and povetkin. Whyte stayed on a superyacht near the battle site. Participants from the UK signed up for a handful of Covid-19 tests to make hope of using the obscure combat base a reality.
Whyte agreed to cut his fight wallet to supply the switch for the venue, and when the lights went down at the Europa Point Sports Complex, he played his part perfectly in front of 500 fans.
In a robe with “RIP Hagler” paying homage to the late middleweight “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Whyte ricocheted off on the spot as his ring-walk music played and seemed energized as the chance to get the right one correct, drew closer.
From the bell, he kept Povetkin’s fierce force at a distance and his rival, who contracted Covid-19 in late 2020, looked shaky on his legs early and lost his balance even as punches flew past his head.
Whyte landed a crisp thrust and right hand combo in the second, and he drove a well-timed counter home right in the third before the fourth saw him slam ruthlessly – the crucial left hook was delivered with an arrogance that made one final blow was appropriate.
Whyte took admirable risk after risk in choosing opponents. It may still be true that his risk of facing Povetkin in August costed his hopes of a title shot.
For the 41-year-old Povetkin, retirement is certainly imminent, while for Whyte there are at least exciting opportunities on the horizon again.
That kind of victory shows that he is a worthy contender. He has said goodbye to a brutal setback in the most forceful way.
“Relief and open doors” – what they said …
Whyte was eager to help Povetkin when the Russian recovered from the rainfall in his corner
Promoter Eddie Hearn in conversation with Sky Sports: “His World Cup dreams were at stake tonight. That was a lot of pressure tonight. Tonight it was about getting him back on track. He would not be contested.”
“He handled Povetkin from people, he knocked him from the pillar to the post. We’re back where we wanted to be. The goal remains the same so that Dillian gets a shot at the World Cup.”
BBC Sports boxing correspondent Mike Costello: “The main emotion for Whyte will be relief because if he doesn’t win tonight, all of these doors will be closed as they have now been closed for Povetkin.
“This opens up a whole range of possibilities. Yes, he may have to wait for that world title chance, but he’s used to it. At least he’s back in a position now to swap based on the performance he has produced tonight.
“He’s an important factor in the heavyweight division again.”
Natasha Jonas, first female British Olympic boxer, on BBC Radio 5 Live: “The pressure to win and the expectation put different strains on different fighters and Dillian proved he can do it tonight.”
British trainer Peter Fury on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was a flawless performance. Povetkin was hit – it wasn’t because he was an old man – he was hit fairly and honestly. Whyte has a huge left hook that would have blown anyone.”
“Perfect and noble”
Former cruiserweight world champion Tony BellewWhyte’s attempt to help his battered rival after the hiatus has been lauded on social media by the likes of UK trainer Dave ColdwellAnother coach, Joe Gallagher, said he’d love to see Whyte go up against British heavyweight Joe Joyce nextCoach Shane McGuigan praised Whyte’s bravery in an immediate rematch