Dillian Whyte suffered a reported shoulder injury the week of Oct. 11 during training and was forced to officially pull out of his interim WBC heavyweight title defense against Otto Wallin on Oct. 20, eleven days after WBC champion Tyson Fury knocked out Deontay Wilder.
Whyte is the WBC mandatory challenger to Fury’s belt, and the timing of the injury announcement has raised some eyebrows.
While Whyte promoter and Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn tried to clear the air around the speculation of Whyte’s injury, he insisted that his preference is for Whyte to skip a Wallin fight altogether and go straight to Fury.
Fury co-promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec on Friday that he’d welcome a Fury vs. Whyte fight. The WBC has since ruled that it’s not requiring Whyte to reschedule his fight with Wallin because the bout was considered a voluntary defense of an interim championship.
Hearn said Whyte’s DAZN-headlining fight against Wallin had already sold 11,000 tickets for The O2 in London and cancelling the fight forced a huge financial hit. Hearn also tried to salvage the main event and offered Wallin a replacement opponent in Alen Babic, but the Swedish southpaw declined.
“I would think Dillian Whyte’s next fight will be Tyson Fury, but we’ll have to see. I’m not ruling out the Otto Wallin fight, that’s a fight that’s at our discretion to reschedule," Hearn told IFL TV. “We may look to reschedule the fight or we may look to give Otto Wallin another fight. It is not our responsibility, but we want to be fair at the same time. Unfortunately, when they come out with these accusations, it doesn't really make you want to help out with the process because they are unfounded. But I understand his frustration … Dillian should be back early next year, hopefully against Tyson Fury.”
Wallin said in a press conference Friday that he wants proof of Whyte’s shoulder injury from Whyte’s doctor and an independent physician.
“I don’t know if Dillian is injured or not, but we just wanna know that we have all the facts,” said Wallin. “And so far, we haven’t got any facts at all. There’s been just a statement saying that he’s injured, he had a doctor look at it, but nothing more than that. And so, we wanna find out the facts and see if he’s injured... And I feel like that’ll be very important. But so far, there’s been no effort on their end to help us with that. So, we wanna find that out and then make sure this fight gets rescheduled.”
Hearn offered his rebuttal aiming to crush Wallin’s claims.
"If we would have [faked an injury], we would have done that three weeks ago [when Fury beat Wilder]. There is no value. Dillian Whyte has been paying sparring partners in Portugal. He's got a full time camp running with his team,” said Hearn.
“We all talked about the news [of Fury's win]. It was never discussed we should pull out. But obviously people are saying 'why would you fight Otto Wallin when you can fight Tyson Fury?' Dillian Whyte made the decision to move forward with the fight. He was never going to pull out of the fight. He's been training since April and May for this fight. He was going to make a lot of money for this fight. It's a fight he believes he can win. He doesn't want to go into the Tyson Fury fight with just the last Alexander Povetkin fight. He wants to get the activity. So that's not the case at all. This pull out hurts everybody.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com