Dillian Whyte is now the mandatory WBC heavyweight contender after dominating Oscar Rivas in a heavyweight war.
It wasn’t without a scare, though, with Whyte knocked down in the ninth round, but the Brit managed to use his superior size to defeat the Colombian.
Whyte used his jab to set the tone, then picked his spots to perfection as he eventually picked up the victory, thanks to a 115-112, 115-112, 116-111 scorecard.
He wanted the knockout, but was made to work; Whyte stunned in the ninth round when a Rivas uppercut led to the Brit to lose his footing, the fall being counted as a knockdown. Rivas wasn’t able to capitalise on it, though, with Whyte dominating the bout the rest of the way at Londo’s O2 Arena.
By climbing off the floor when Rivas knocked him down, Whyte was also able to avoid the type of major upset that Anthony Joshua suffered against Andy Ruiz Jr last month.
He becomes the interim WBC champion and the mandatory challenger to the title currently held by Deontay Wilder. That opportunity, according to the WBC, must arrive by May 2020 but Wilder is first expected to rematch Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury.
Outgunning the previously unbeaten Rivas was Whyte’s 10th win in a row but provides him with his most important step towards a world title so far.
Rivas, compact and strong like a pitbull, flew out of his corner in the first round and immediately quietened the crowd by throwing heavy shots at the home favourite. One right hand flew ominously close to Whyte’s head.
But Whyte then asserted himself in a barnstorming second round where he almost finished Rivas off.
A thudding straight right hand had the Colombian visitor staggering around the ring – Whyte sensed an early knockout and briefly went for broke, but Rivas survived.
Whyte’s jab kept Rivas honest for the next few rounds, with both boxers forced to respect each other’s power.
“Intelligent,” Whyte’s trainer Mark Tibbs told him.
Rivas, whose impressive amateur credentials saw him defeat Ruiz Jr and go to the 2008 Olympics, found himself unable to get inside the ramrod jab that Whyte kept dishing out. Rivas’ trainer Marc Ramsay scolded him after the sixth round.
Those words put Rivas back on the front foot but Whyte walloped him with an uppercut, then a body shot. Rivas huffed and puffed and protected his midriff after that punch.
Rivas had a good eighth round which he spent picking at Whyte’s body, but it was still the London man who threw the meatiest punch with another uppercut.
It was when Whyte seemed at his most comfortable that he was knocked down.
Rivas landed a big uppercut in the ninth round which sent Whyte slumping to the floor for the third time in his career (previously he hit the deck against Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker).
Whyte was forced into survival mode but his legs held firm and he heard the bell to the end of the round – when his trainer Tibbs rollicked him.
They were both hurt and tired in the 10th but they continued whipping punches and Whyte had the final say with a right hand.
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