Saturday at the 02 Arena in London, heavyweight contenders Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne face off. Given the raised profile this division has been enjoying in 2018, this is a very important fight.
Browne is 25-0 with 22 KOs. Two years ago, in March 2016, Browne briefly fought his way into the division’s top 10, coming from behind to knock out Ruslan Chagaev. However, subsequent PED failures derailed the rugged Australian’s momentum. He has fought just once in the past two years, knocking out journeyman Matthew Greer.
Whyte had a brief but notable amateur career. It was just six bouts but in his debut, he defeated current star Anthony Joshua. He put another opponent into a coma.
Whyte’s professional record is 22-1 with 16 KOs. The loss came against Joshua, who knocked him out in December 2015. He has won six fights since, including a split decision over Dereck Chisora and a near-shutout of Robert Helenius. There is a strong argument for placing Whyte somewhere in the lower portion of the division’s top 10. Both The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Board have him at No. 7.
At just 29, Whyte is well positioned to be a very relevant gatekeeper in the division. That his only loss has come against Joshua will make him an attractive comparison opponent for the likes of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder. If Whyte continues to win, a rematch with Joshua is not unreasonable, either–Joshua stopped him, but Whyte made an exciting fight early, and was the first professional opponent to hurt the juggernaut.
Browne, at 38, has a big opportunity here. The hard-punching brawler can insert himself into a lot of conversations if he can defeat Whyte. He is a significant underdog with the odds makers–and there is a reason for that. But it would hardly be a historic upset.