Teofimo Lopez Jr. called out Devin Haney after the American star stunned Vasyl Lomachenko to unify the lightweight division.

Lopez dethroned Lomachenko by unanimous decision to add the WBA, WBO and WBC 'franchise' titles to his IBF belt in Las Vegas Saturday.

The 23-year-old emerged victorious over 12 rounds at MGM Grand, where he became the youngest four-belt champion since the WBO was founded in 1988.

After snapping Lomachenko's 13-fight winning streak, Lopez (16-0) turned to 'regular' WBC champion and American rival Haney (24-0).

"Man, take me to 140," Lopez said after judges scored the fight 116-112, 119-109 and 117-113 in his favour.

"Or I could fight the two-time email world champion Devin Haney if they want that."

Haney replied via Twitter, writing: "Lopez vs Haney 2021 Let's do it! AllTheBelts".

Lomachenko had the pedigree heading into the bout, stemming back to a glittering amateur career that included two Olympic gold medals, through to winning world titles in three different divisions in the paid ranks. 

But the Ukrainian star was also coming off a 14-month layoff as Lopez controlled the early rounds before withstanding a late rally.

"Just tried to keep pressuring him," Lopez said. "Just don't give him the jab, don't let him set up. Every time he did want to throw, I had something ready for him to stop the momentum.

"He was on a 14-month lay-off, and I knew it was going to take time for him to catch up." 

Despite Lopez's early superiority, Lomachenko insisted: "I think the first half of the fight he got more rounds than I did, but in the second half of the fight I took over.

 I definitely don't agree with the scorecards. At the moment, I thought I won. But the results are the results."

Teofimo Lopez Jr. dethroned Vasyl Lomachenko as he became the unified lightweight champion by unanimous decision in Las Vegas.

All eyes were on the MGM Grand, where Lomachenko put his WBA, WBO and WBC belts on the line in the blockbuster unification bout against IBF holder Lopez.

Lopez (16-0) emerged victorious over 12 rounds on Saturday, the 23-year-old completing an upset against pound-for-pound Ukrainian star as he unified the lightweight division inside the Las Vegas bubble.

The judges scored the fight 116-112, 119-109 and 117-113 in favour of unbeaten American Lopez, who snapped Lomachenko's (14-2) 13-fight winning streak after withstanding a late flurry to become the youngest four-belt champion since the WBO was founded in 1988.

"I'm a fighter," said Lopez afterwards. "I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn't know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight.

"I can bang, too. I don't care, man. I'll take one to give one. That's what a true champion does. I find a way to win."

It was a clash to decide the number one lightweight and a showdown between two fighters at contrasting stages of their careers.

Lomachenko had the pedigree heading into the bout, stemming back to a glittering amateur career that included two Olympic gold medals, through to winning world titles in three different divisions in the paid ranks. 

Lopez, meanwhile, had long been talked about as boxing's next big star, long before brutally taking the IBF title from Richard Commey inside two rounds last December.

Lomachenko was slow out of the blocks as Lopez took control of the first half of the fight, outworking the 32-year-old with his speed and pinpoint accuracy.

Out of sorts, Lomachenko – back in action following a 14-month layoff – eventually came into the fight in the eighth round but by that time, the damage had already been done.

Sensing he was behind, Lomachenko ramped up the pressure with a late rally in the championship rounds, however, Lopez landed significant shots to halt his opponent and become the new lightweight king.

Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez have the chance to prove who is the number one lightweight on Saturday, as two fighters at contrasting stages of their careers clash in Las Vegas.

The much-anticipated unification contest takes place inside Top Rank's MGM Grand's Bubble, a mouthwatering main event in which the two leading protagonists both have a point to prove.

Lomachenko has the pedigree, stemming back to a glittering amateur career that included two Olympic gold medals, through to winning world titles in three different divisions in the paid ranks. 

Yet the Ukrainian – considered not just the best at the weight but also a leading contender to be recognised as the pound-for-pound king – is putting more than just the WBA and WBO belts on the line. 

His reputation is at stake against a fighter – and a father – who have not been shy in making clear their intentions for a while, long before Lopez Jr became a champion himself by brutally taking the IBF title from Richard Commey inside two rounds last December. 

Teofimo Lopez Sr has long been convinced his son has the power and precision to expose the lauded Lomachenko – and did not mind telling him as much when they were in the same hotel lobby in December 2018. 

That meeting sparked a rivalry that has simmered ever since. On Saturday, though, the heat will be turned up to boiling point. The trash talk has riled Lomachenko, now Lopez has to back it up.

The undefeated 23-year-old has age on his side and is the more comfortable at the limit, a heavy handed hitter who has – so far – backed up both his and his father's confidence with 15 straight wins. 

Still, this is different – this is Lomachenko, a supremely skilled boxer who has needed to move through the divisions to find bigger challenges in every sense. He has normally passed those tests with flying colours, too.

Is this a step too far, though? Can, as his dad has always believed, Lopez be the one to solve 'The Matrix' inside the ring? Thankfully, boxing fans do not have to wait too much longer to find out. 

RECENT HISTORY

As already mentioned, Lopez was ruthless against Commey to claim the IBF strap, handing the dethroned champion the first stoppage loss of his professional career.

That followed on from wins inside the distance over Diego Magdaleno and Edis Tatli earlier in the year, though Masayoshi Nakatani went 12 rounds in July 2019 before being beaten comfortably on the scorecards.

In contrast to his next opponent, Lomachenko's previous outing saw him require the scorecards to triumph against Luke Campbell in August 2019. A knockdown in the 11th helped lead to a comfortable points win, though the final margins did not do justice to the Englishman's brave efforts.

Campbell's compatriot Anthony Crolla had been crushed four months earlier, while the impressive Lomachenko CV includes victories over Jose Pedraza and Jorge Linares at lightweight.

TALE OF THE TAPE

VASYL LOMACHENKO

Age: 32
Height: 5ft 7ins (170cm)
Weight: 9st 6lbs (135 pounds)
Reach: 65.5ins 
Professional record: 14-1 (10 KOs)
Major career titles: WBO featherweight, WBO super-featherweight, WBA, WBC & WBO lightweight

TEOFIMO LOPEZ

Age: 23
Height: 5ft 8ins (173cm)
Weight: 9st 6lbs (135 pounds)
Reach: 68.5ins 
Professional record: 15-0 (12 KOs)
Major career titles: IBF lightweight

THE UNDERCARD

Alex Saucedo, whose only loss came against Maurice Hooker in 2018, and the undefeated Arnold Barboza Jr go up against each other in a super-lightweight clash that should help whet the appetite for what is to follow on the menu.

In the same division, Josue Vargas takes on Kendo Castaneda, while unbeaten super-middleweight Edgar Berlanga is up against Lanell Bellows in an eight-rounder. However, the main course is all that really matters this weekend.

WHAT THE FIGHTERS HAVE TO SAY..

Lopez Jr to Stats Perform News: "I expect him to get hurt, badly, with the explosiveness I bring to the table. I knew I was the underdog coming into this. Listen, it doesn't motivate me any different, it doesn't change anything, you know what I mean? That is really what it comes to. I knew I was going to be the underdog coming into this fight."

Lomachenko on his opponent's pre-fight talk: "For me, it's just words. On Saturday, we will see."

Promoter Bob Arum on Lomachenko: "He doesn't want an easy fight or to win a decision, he wants to win by destroying his opponent. Floyd Mayweather was a great defensive fighter. But unlike Mayweather, Loma is always looking for a way to destroy his opponents. That's what makes him a fan-friendly fighter."

Anthony Joshua's fight with Kubrat Pulev has been confirmed for December 12 at the O2 Arena in London. 

Joshua was due to face the Bulgarian at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in June for the defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO world titles. 

However, the fight was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and promoter Eddie Hearn suggested an all-British unification bout with Tyson Fury could take place this year if a new date was not fixed with Pulev. 

It has now been confirmed Joshua will his face mandatory challenger in his first fight in England for over two years, marking his return to the ring since defeating Andy Ruiz Jr in a rematch in Dubai last year. 

"December 12 is the date and once again the heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK," said Joshua, as per Sky Sports. 

"The O2 is the original lion's den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see. I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation." 

Pulev, 39, has lost just one of his 29 professional bouts - a knockout at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. 

"For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment," said Pulev. 

"This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world. I'm coming to London to seize the heavyweight championship of the world." 

Hearn sees this as the "final hurdle" for Joshua ahead of a planned double-header with Fury, set for 2021. 

"After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified world heavyweight championship is very special," he said. 

"Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ's resume is unrivalled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year."

The heavyweight fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora has been rearranged for October 31.

The pair were initially set to meet on May 23, but the coronavirus pandemic saw the bout at The O2 Arena in London postponed.

Former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Usyk (17-0) has been made to wait for his second heavyweight test, having stopped unheralded American Chazz Witherspoon on his debut last October.

The Chisora fight will go ahead just over a year on from that contest, however, after an agreement was announced on Wednesday.

"I have really missed boxing," Usyk said. "I am working hard in my training camp to show a spectacular performance on October 31.

"I expect a real test in Dereck - he is strong, tough and resilient. He is a really big guy and he hits hard.

"As a cruiserweight, I reached the highest heights as undisputed champion and now I am following the same path as a heavyweight.

"I need to test myself against world-class heavyweights on my new road to undisputed and Dereck stands in front of me.

"Many people say that Dereck is a monster, but deep down he is a kind man. I don't expect to see that good side of him.

"I know that he wants to break me, but I am water, wind and fire all together. Dereck Chisora, I am coming for you."

Chisora (32-9) added: "Usyk, I've been ready for you all year.

"It's my home turf and, after such a tough year for everyone, I'm going to give the British public the Halloween party they deserve and finally get revenge for my boy Tony Bellew."

Dillian Whyte's opportunity to avenge his shock loss to Alexander Povetkin will come on November 21, it has been confirmed.

Matchroom announced the heavyweight rematch on Tuesday, with the countdown now on for Whyte as he seeks to put last month's defeat to the Russian behind him.

The Briton was floored by his 40-year-old opponent in the fifth round, having dominated the fight up to that point, with the loss halting his hopes of landing a mandatory shot at the WBC championship.

Venue details for the second showdown between the pair are to be confirmed at a later date, as it is not clear whether fans will be able to attend.

"I'm over the moon to have the rematch," Whyte said in quotes reported by Sky Sports. "As soon as I got out of the ring, I was looking for confirmation that the fight would be on.

"I can't wait to get back in the ring and get back what is rightfully mine.

"I'm looking to do what I said I would the first time, and that's beat Alexander Povetkin."

Povetkin said: "I've rested well, spent time with my family, and now that the date of the rematch is known, I will soon return to my training camp and prepare as thoroughly as I did for the first fight."

Anthony Joshua described Tyson Fury as "just another heavyweight" and says his rival should consider retiring soon.

IBF, WBA and WBO title holder Joshua has agreed two fights with WBC champion Fury next year to determine the division's undisputed champion.

Joshua first faces a mandatory title defence against Kubrat Pulev at the end of the year, while Fury is set to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time.

Fury won his first world titles in 2015, seven years after turning professional, whereas his countryman needed just three years to make his big breakthrough.

And ahead of their proposed superfights at some point in 2021, Joshua has cast doubt over whether taking on Fury will be the biggest test of his career.

"Fury has been professional much longer than me. He should be looking to retire soon," he told Sky Sports.

"If he wants to cement his legacy, I'm here and ready. I've built myself into this position.

"I'll challenge Fury, I'll challenge Wilder. These guys aren't the biggest names that I've fought on my record anyway. They are just another heavyweight.

"Look at my record. They are not the best fighters that I have challenged. When they are ready, I'm here to fight."

Fury has won 30 of his 31 professional fights and beat Wilder in February to claim the WBC and Ring Magazine titles.

However, Joshua – with a record of 23 wins from 24 fights – is not fazed about stepping into the ring with the Gypsy King.

"I haven't got fear of Fury – whether he's got a better chin than me, a better jab than me, whether he's all of this stuff that people say," Joshua said. 

"So be it. Let me go in there and prove myself. Show you who I am and what I can do.

"I've fought five champions and been in two unification fights. I'm a two-time heavyweight champion in the space of 24 fights and a [seven-year] career. It shows you I am serious.

"If Fury is serious, I'll take that fight seriously too."

Anthony Joshua is confident he knows how to go about beating Tyson Fury but does not expect to face his fellow Brit in a blockbuster heavyweight showdown this year.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, this week stated the English duo could do battle in a much-anticipated unification before the end of 2020, amid talk that Deontay Wilder may pull out of a trilogy fight with Fury.

A fight with mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev is due to be WBA, WBO and IBF champion Joshua's next assignment, while Fury is contracted to face Wilder for a third time.

WBC champion Fury and Joshua verbally agreed to two fights next year during a coronavirus crisis that has caused uncertainty over scheduling.

Joshua is focused on overcoming his next hurdle in the form of Pulev, but already has in mind how he plans to defeat compatriot Fury.

He told Capital Breakfast: "I've got a winner's head on my shoulders, so I'm going in to win.

"You know, you work Tyson's body, I know certain shots that he's vulnerable to as well, so I kind of create those opportunities as well. With a winner’s head on my shoulders I'll go in there and I'll do whatever it takes by any means really."

Joshua knows both he and Fury have "banana skin fights" to get through before they can finally meet.

He added: "We've got to put them on an equal playing field because if I say 'I've got the bigger test' or 'he's got the bigger test', you never know what's going to happen.

"They're both banana skin fights. It's like 'get past this one then there's the big one next', so this one is just as important as the big one.

"When the time is right we'll fight. We're keen but I've got Kubrat Pulev first which is a mandatory defence, which I have to do. Once I get past that I'm a free agent.

"I'm going to say we'll fight next year but everything else that comes with it, I've just got to put to the back of my mind and just focus on Kubrat Pulev. Once I get past him, hopefully Fury will be the next one in line."

Anthony Joshua could face Tyson Fury in their much-anticipated unification bout before the end of the year, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

IBF, WBA and WBO title holder Joshua wants to complete the collection by adding the WBC belt, which is currently held by Fury following his stoppage win over Deontay Wilder.

The pair were expected to meet in 2021 at the earliest, with Fury facing Wilder for a third time before then and mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev up next for Joshua.

However, Hearn revealed Joshua has not agreed a deal with Pulev and could yet take on Fury should Wilder opt against returning to the ring this year.

"I am the only one that has put [Joshua v Fury in 2021] in writing that the deal is agreed," Hearn told IFL TV.

"So, I have already written to their team saying, 'Just to let you know, we have agreed to the following deal.'

"I didn't actually get a reply, but I believe they do want the fight. So, we're ready for the fight."

He added: "I saw the comments about December. It's all very well saying, 'Well, if that doesn't happen in December, I'll fight you now.'

"We will fight you in December. If the world is ready for that fight, and these offers that are coming in are legit for that period in December, then we don't have a problem going into that fight.

"But [Fury's] under contract for another fight. We're not under contract yet, but we have to agree to terms with Pulev now. We probably will.

"We want to have an undisputed fight. So, by doing that, we fight Pulev, [Fury] fights Wilder.

"If we have to drop the WBO belt, then we worry about that then. But AJ doesn't have a problem with going into that [Fury] fight next. He understands that his obligation is to fight Pulev."

Wilder invoked a rematch clause to face Fury for a third time after losing his WBC and Ring Magazine titles to the 32-year-old in February.

However, a date has still not been officially pencilled in and Hearn has told Wilder to consider retiring if he does not step back into the ring with the Gypsy King.

"If Deontay Wilder doesn't take that rematch, he should retire from boxing," he said. "What's the point? You've been a world heavyweight champion, and now you've lost."

Jose Ramirez is motivated by the prospect of facing some of the biggest names in boxing as he plots a move to welterweight - but not before he has a unification showdown with Josh Taylor.

The reigning WBC and WBO light-welterweight champion, Ramirez defends his titles on Saturday when he takes on experienced challenger Viktor Postol in Las Vegas.

It is a bout that looks set to finally go ahead at the third attempt, as initial dates in February and May were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The postponements have seen Ramirez inactive for over a year, yet the Californian says the time since his impressive stoppage win over Maurice Hooker in July 2019 has gone by like a "blur".

While he must deal with Postol first, the 28-year-old is already plotting ahead as he targets Scotsman Taylor, who currently holds the WBA and IBF titles, and is willing to travel to make it happen.

"I do want that fight, for sure. That's the fight I want next. That's still my plan," Ramirez told Stats Perform News. 

"Not to be insincere, I know he has a mandatory late September so if the fight doesn't happen this year, it could happen early next year.   

"Now, as far as the venue, I would be excited to go to the United Kingdom and fight there. I would be more than happy and motivated to do that.  

"I think it would be lovely for me to be able to showcase my talent in front of a whole different crowd, different fans. I would be willing to do that, whatever it takes for the fight to happen and wherever it's going to bring the most momentum."

Whenever and wherever the Taylor fight takes place, Ramirez acknowledged that he has a limited amount of time left at the 10-stone limit. A switch to welterweight not only makes life easier on the scales but also opens up a number of lucrative possibilities, too. 

Terence Crawford holds the WBO title, while Errol Spence Jr has the IBF and WBC belts. Then there is the legendary Manny Pacquiao, who sits in the position of 'super' champion with the WBA. 

"I think there's two more fights at 140 [the light-welterweight limit], hopefully, and then I move to 147," Ramirez said when asked about his long-term future. 

"It's time for me to let my body grow and see how much I can develop and let my power also develop and put some extra mass and be a bigger fighter that I know I can be.   

"If it's Terence Crawford or any other champion, my goal will be to become a world champion at 147 as well." 

He added: "I think those things motivate me the most. So, two more fights and I will be happy to make that move to 147, especially if I fight Josh Taylor for all four belts.   

"There wouldn't be any reason to stay at 140. I know there's some good 135-pounders out there, but nothing motivates me [more] than the names Crawford, Pacquaio, Spence – those types of champions. 

"I know if I let my body grow, I know I could be a much better 147-pounder than a 140-pounder."

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has confirmed Tyson Fury will have "no restrictions" placed on him as the governing body's heavyweight champion, clearing the way for a unification fight with Anthony Joshua.

Fury claimed the title in February with a sensational stoppage win against Deontay Wilder, though the pair are due to meet again.

The WBC had stated Dillian Whyte would be the opponent for a mandatory defence by their champion in early 2021, provided he came through against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday.

However, Whyte saw his title hopes disappear when he was on the wrong end of an upset result, removing a potential hurdle standing in the way of a showdown between Fury and Joshua.

"We don't speculate, but the time limitations which were put by the WBC board, which had Dillian Whyte won, the winner of the third Fury-Wilder fight has to fight without an intervening bout against Dillian Whyte," Sulaiman told Sky Sports.

"That now has changed. Dillian has lost, so there are no limitations at the moment for the winner of Fury-Wilder to do any fight whatsoever."

He added: "In the WBC, there will be no restrictions whatsoever right now.

"An ultimate unification would be something that everyone would like to see. It's a matter that brings boxing to the highest level."

It was announced in June that Fury had reached an agreement over a two-fight deal with Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.

Meanwhile, in a video posted on social media on Monday, Whyte reiterated his desire to activate the rematch clause in his contract with Povetkin, who was knocked down twice before producing a stunning uppercut to triumph in the fifth round. 

"I'm safe and sound. Congratulations to Alexander Povetkin for a great fight, I look forward to doing it again," Whyte said in the message.

"It's heavyweight boxing - it happens. When you fight good fighters, you win some, you lose some.  

"I'm all good. I'm ready for the rematch, hopefully everybody can get the rematch done for November, December time. I spoke to Eddie [Hearn] this morning and he's on it."

Dillian Whyte felt he was "bossing" Alexander Povetkin prior to his devastating knock-out loss as the WBC title hopeful requested a rematch.

Whyte's hopes of landing a mandatory shot at the WBC championship were halted following his shock defeat against Povetkin in Saturday's stunning heavyweight bout.

After dominating the opening four rounds and downing Povetkin twice in the fourth, WBC contender Whyte was sensationally knocked out with a massive uppercut in the fifth.

With his plans for a mandatory fight against the champion on hold, British boxer Whyte (27-2) told promoter Eddie Hearn via Matchroom Boxing's Instagram: "Can we get the rematch in December?

"Okay cool. I'm good, I'm good, it's one of them things where he just landed. I was bossing it.

"It is what it is. Rematch, it's all good. That's what heavyweight boxing is about."

A stunned Hearn said Whyte will exercise his rematch clause with Povetkin, adding: "I can't quite believe it. When the punch landed, I felt like I was in some dream.

"The fight was over, virtually, Povetkin hadn't started well, I thought Dillian Whyte was measuring up. He had a great finish to the round when he knocked Povetkin down.

"I felt that it was over, but this is the drama of the sport, this is the drama of heavyweight boxing. One punch can change everything.

"I'm pretty much lost for words, if I'm honest with you. We have a rematch clause. The first thing Dillian said was 'Get me that rematch, get me that rematch.

"Povetkin is mandatory now, but the only person who would get called to negotiate fighting the winner of Fury-Wilder was Dillian Whyte.

"We'll exercise that rematch clause. We'll look to make that before the end of the year and it's a huge fight."

It was a memorable evening for former WBA heavyweight champion and Russian opponent Povetkin (36-2-1), who said: "I didn't feel I would finish the fight like this. I went down twice but it was OK, not too much damage.

"I was watching his fights and I was thinking he was missing uppercuts from left and the right, so I was training for it. It's probably one of my best ever punches."

Dillian Whyte's hopes of landing a mandatory shot at the WBC championship were halted as he suffered a knock-out defeat to Alexander Povetkin in a thrilling heavyweight clash.

In a fight that Whyte had dominated for the opening four rounds, the Briton, who would have been entitled to a fight with Tyson Fury had he defeated Povetkin, was downed in the fifth by a stunning uppercut from the 40-year-old Russian.

Povetkin had been downed twice in the fourth round after Whyte's fast start at 'Fight Camp', yet the latter was ultimately no match for Povetkin's power.

And with Anthony Joshua – who had publicly doubted his compatriot before the fight – watching on as a pundit, Whyte was left to congratulate Povetkin as his hopes of a title bout faded.

Having lost almost one-and-a-half stone since his previous fight, Whyte looked sharp in the opening exchanges, landing some swift early jabs, though Povetkin responded with blows to the body.

Povetkin could not prevent Whyte landing more sharp shots to his frame in the second, and the Russian's legs dipped in the third when he was clubbed with two hefty hooks.

Whyte refused to let up the pressure and had Povetkin downed with a brilliant punch early in round four, yet the veteran fighter was quickly back to his feet.

The assault continued and Povetkin was dropped again in the closing stages of the same round by a venomous left-hand uppercut.

Yet, in a stunning turnaround, the fight was ended by one huge Povetkin punch moments into the fifth.

The 16-stone former WBA heavyweight champion landed a brilliant uppercut with his left, clubbing Whyte to the floor.

Whyte recovered quickly, but the damage was done as Povetkin celebrated a remarkable triumph.

Dillian Whyte puts his interim WBC heavyweight title – as well as several years of hard work – on the line when he takes on Alexander Povetkin in unlikely surroundings. 

Whyte has been stood at the front of the queue for a considerable time now, waiting patiently for his opportunity at the reigning champion, which was Deontay Wilder for so long. 

However, the American's reign was emphatically ended by Tyson Fury earlier this year and, with that duo set to meet again next, Whyte is left hanging around a little longer. 

Still, now at least the situation is clear: win on Saturday and it will be a title chance next, or alternatively elevation in his status with the WBC, should the champion opt to vacate rather than face his mandatory challenger. 

Povetkin, though, is a tough hurdle to clear. Whyte could have taken a softer option, considering what is at stake for him. The Russian has only lost twice in a long professional career, plus won gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Their intriguing meeting tops the bill in the fourth and final 'Fight Camp' series staged by promoters Matchroom, a unique concept staged within the company's grounds in Essex to combat the issues around putting on a live sporting event amid a global health pandemic. 

Having enjoyed a lengthy training camp in Portugal to prepare for a must-win outing, Whyte has been staying on site in a motor home to avoid running into Povetkin too often on the premises in the build-up.

Thankfully for the audience watching on, there will be nothing to keep the pair apart once the bell sounds.

RECENT HISTORY

Whyte has admitted this week that external issues affected him in 2019, when he had two fights. After the first of them, a points win over Oscar Rivas in July, he was initially charged with testing positive for a banned substance by UK Anti-Doping, though was later cleared and reinstated to his ranking with the WBC.

In December, Whyte was back fighting in the ring against Mariusz Wach, though a lack of preparation time led to a laboured display in a 10-rounder that went the distance in Diriyah. It was the last outing with long-time coach Mark Tibbs, too - Xavier Miller will now be working the corner, aided by late addition Dave Coldwell. 

Povetkin was on the same Saudi Arabia card as Whyte, involved in a see-saw battle with Michael Hunter that ended up as a split-decision draw. The 40-year-old's other outing last year was a points triumph over Hughie Fury in what was his return to action after being stopped by Anthony Joshua 11 months earlier.

For comparison, Povetkin stopped Wach in the 12th round when they met in 2015, while his other loss in the paid ranks came against Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. Dropped no less than four times and also deducted a point in the penultimate round, he managed to go the distance but was comprehensively outclassed by the Ukrainian.

TALE OF THE TAPE

DILLIAN WHYTE 

Age: 32
Height: 6ft 4ins (193cm)
Weight: 18st 6oz (252 pounds)
Reach: 78ins 
Professional record: 27-1 (18 KOs)
Major career titles: WBC heavyweight (interim)

ALEXANDER POVETKIN

Age: 40
Height: 6ft 2ins (188cm)
Weight: 16st 5lbs (224 pounds)
Reach: 75ins 
Professional record: 35-2-1 (24 KOs)
Major career titles: WBA heavyweight

THE UNDERCARD

While the big men are set to take centre stage, the rematch between Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon has the potential to steal the show. 

Taylor won the first meeting by a majority decision in New York to retain her four world titles. The two lightweights switch from the famous Madison Square Garden to Eddie Hearn's back yard, yet a lack of a crowd should not take away anything from the occasion. Persoon believes she won just over a year ago, so the Belgian police offer will be out to deliver her own version of justice.

As for the rest, heavyweight prospect Alen Babic and Shawndell Winters have been verbally sparring in the build-up to their clash, while Jack Cullen takes on fellow super-middleweight Zak Chelli and Luther Clay meets Chris Kongo at welter.

WHAT THE FIGHTERS HAVE TO SAY...

Whyte on Tyson Fury: "One minute he says he will fight me, the next minute he says he won't. Tyson talks a lot of rubbish - he just says whatever he thinks."

Whyte on Povetkin: "He's probably the most technical fighter I've fought. He's fought a lot of guys as an amateur and is an Olympic gold medallist – he's done it the right way."

Taylor on Persoon: "I'm ready for anything Delfine throws at me. As long as I'm strong, that's all that matters to me."

Persoon to BBC Sport: "I have money from my job so there's no problem. The honour is important for me rather than the money. If you said I had to box for free and win, I'd say no problem."

Dillian Whyte is well aware of the dangers posed by Alexander Povetkin but is confident he can deal with the pressure and secure a shot at the WBC title.

Whyte is the governing body's interim champion and is next in line for a shot at the main belt, which is in the possession of Tyson Fury, at some stage in 2021.

However, Fury has a third fight with Deontay Wilder lined up next, leaving his mandatory challenger in need of an opponent as he stays busy ahead of a long-overdue opportunity.

Rather than take a soft option to preserve his status, the 32-year-old will instead take on Povetkin - who has lost just twice as a pro and won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games - in the main event on the fourth and final 'Fight Camp' card organised by promoter Eddie Hearn.

Long-time rival Anthony Joshua will be working for the media at ringside, yet Whyte is only concerned with his next opponent as he has one final hurdle to clear before getting his chance.

"The story of my life has been pressure. It's just another puzzle, another something I have to deal with," he said during a pre-fight news conference on Thursday.

"There is a bit more pressure than usual, obviously, because what's in the future. But that is in the future - I just focus on now and what is in front of me.

"I'm fighting a consummate professional who has been consistent for a long time. I'm not bothered about what Fury is doing or what Wilder is doing, I'll focus on what Povetkin is going to be doing on Saturday. 

"He's probably the most technical fighter I've fought. He's fought a lot of guys as an amateur and is an Olympic gold medallist – he's done it the right way."

Whyte won twice in 2019 despite admitting his mind "wasn't right". However, he has enjoyed an extended training camp in Portugal ahead of facing the experienced Povetkin.

The Russian's only defeats have come against Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, who prevailed on points after the bout went the distance, but a slimmed-down Whyte is happy to test himself, despite the obvious risk for his career prospects.

"I deal with pressure well. I could have had an easier fight, but I'm still learning," Whyte said while chatting to promoter Hearn.

"I had seven amateur fights and 20-odd as a professional, so I'm still working and learning.

"These are the kind of fights you need to test yourself, the kind you need to grow. This is the kind of fight I need, a fight that tests me, that motivates me, a fight that I can learn from, a fight that I need to think more about what I need to do.

"I could have taken an easier fight, one where I know 80 per cent I'm going to win by knockout anyway, but this is the kind of fight I need, that gives it a little extra edge.  

"That's why I've got myself in the kind of shape I'm in."

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