July 20, 2019 will prove to be a loaded day of Boxing. Of course, most will identify the day as the date where one of the most-anticipated fights of the year will take place between undefeated WBA Welterweight world champion Keith Thurman and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao. A fight that will headline a pay-per-view card broadcast by Fox Sports Pay-Per-View here in the United States. There will be however, far more available to Boxing fans not just in America, but around the world as digital subscription streaming network DAZN will broadcast an interesting card from the O2 Arena in London, England that will be highlighted by three Heavyweight bouts featuring top contenders, former world title challengers and veterans who are looking to get into world title contention.
In the main event, current WBC number one rated Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte will square off with undefeated top-ten contender Oscar Rivas in a bout scheduled for twelve rounds. The fight, which is billed as an elimination bout with interim championship status attached to determine a mandatory challenger for the winner of the upcoming rematch between undefeated WBC world champion Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz, pits two fighters who are both capable of scoring knockouts against each other. A unique coincidence between the two is both Whyte and Rivas are coming off knockout wins that each occurred in the late rounds.
In December of last year, Whyte scored a devastating one punch knockout over former world title challenger Dereck Chisora in the eleventh round. The knockout, which occurred by a flush left hook to the head, was one of the highlights of 2018 in the eyes of many Boxing fans. Rivas meanwhile scored a twelfth round stoppage of former world title challenger Bryant Jennings in the twelfth round of their fight in January of this year.
What intrigues this observer about this fight is both fighters have styles where they are more than willing to engage. When two fighters match up well stylistically really anything can happen in what could be an entertaining fight to watch. Rivas is unbeaten in twenty-six professional fights and the thing that will interest me in this fight will be in regard to what Rivas strategy might be. He is s fighter that is capable of getting an opponent out if there should the opportunity arise, but he is also the type of fighter that likes to execute his offense in sudden, yet measured burst, which can make it difficult for an opponent to combat.
The current North-American Boxing Federation (NABF) Heavyweight champion was also very impressive in his win over Bryant Jennings in his last fight. A victory over a longtime top contender like Dillian Whyte could be the final step toward a world title shot. In contrast to Rivas, an argument could be made that Whyte has more to lose than does his opponent.
It is important to remember that Whyte has held the WBC’s number one contender’s position for a lengthy period of time and due to the political elements that exist in the sport of Boxing, being a number one contender does not necessarily mean that you will get an opportunity to fight the world champion in a timely manner as can be illustrated in the World Boxing Association’s rankings structure, which can at times include multiple fighters who can hold an interim/regular champion status designation at the same time in a given weight class. While Whyte is not involved in such a structure currently, he has been forced to play the waiting game before getting his shot at the WBC world championship.
Although the various political aspects of Boxing do not always provide the fairest landscape for the boxers that compete in the sport, a loss in any fashion for a fighter in Whyte’s position will likely drop him from world title contention for some time. This does not put Whyte in the most favorable position, but it is also important to keep in mind that he has only lost once in twenty-six previous fights and that was to former unified world champion Anthony Joshua nearly four years ago prior to Joshua becoming a world champion. Whyte has won nine fights since that loss and has only gone the distance in three of those bouts. What this suggests is Whyte is not only dangerous, but also the type of fighter that can win fights either by knockout or by winning a decision.
Coincidentally, Whyte’s last opponent Dereck Chisora will also be in action on this card as he will take on fellow former world title challenger Artur Szpilka in a bout scheduled for ten rounds. This fight along with another Heavyweight bout on the undercard of Whyte-Rivas, which will also be discussed in this column each feature fighters trying to work their way into world title contention.
In the case of Chisora-Spzilka, it is a battle between two fighters who have each fought for a World Heavyweight championship before in their respective careers and thus each knows what it feels like to be a contender in a crowded field of Heavyweights. Both however, are in the process of trying to rebuild their standing in the division.
Dereck Chisora has been a fighter that has gone through the highs and lows that often come with a long career. He is also someone who has fought many of the top Heavyweights in the last decade. Although he has come out on the short end of some of those battles, Chisora has given many fighters a difficult go of it. Following his loss to Dillian Whyte, Chisora returned to the ring in April of this year and scored a ten round unanimous decision over Senad Gashi.
The thirty-five year old Chisora now looks to continue to build momentum against Artur Szpilka. Szpilka as some might recall put forth a spirited effort in his challenge of undefeated WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder in January 2016. Szpilka was knocked out by the champion in the ninth round of that fight, but did give the Wilder a tough fight for as long as it lasted.
Szpilka would suffer another setback in July 2017 when he was stopped by undefeated contender Adam Kownacki in four rounds. Since those two losses however, Szpilka has scored two decision wins over longtime contender Dominick Guinn and former world title challenger Mariusz Wach. Like Chisora, Szpilka is looking to continue the rebuilding process.
The question of this fight will be what respective versions of the fighters will show up. Both fighters have had moments throughout their careers where they have looked impressive and both have had moments where they have put forth performances that could be described as lackluster. Szpilka will have a near three-inch height advantage standing at 6’3 ½ over Chisora who stands 6’1 ½ and will also have a two-inch reach advantage of 76” to Chisora’s 74”. As has been the case throughout his career, Chisora will be fighting a taller opponent and the task will be to get on the inside of his opponent’s reach.
In contrast to his opponent, Szpilka will likely look to keep Chisora at distance where he will theoretically be unable to be effective and where Szpilka will be able to control the combat. This could be easier said than done against a fighter with Chisora’s head movement. Both fighters have punching power and it may come down to a question of which can execute their offense better.
The third Heavyweight bout on this card to round out the headlining trupleheader will feature former Olympic Bronze medalist and former British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion David Price facing rising contender David Allen in a scheduled for twelve rounds. As readers may recall, Price was once one of the hottest rising prospects in the Heavyweight division. After winning the British and Commonwealth Heavyweight titles, Price was springboard into a fight with longtime top contender and former world title challenger Tony Thompson in February 2013. The decision to put Price, who entered the fight unbeaten in fifteen previous professional fights in against a fighter of Thompson’s caliber proved to be costly as Thompson stopped him in two rounds. This was followed by an immediate rematch in July of that year, which also proved to be a questionable decision as Thompson would again stop Price, this time un six rounds.
Since then, Price’s career has been on a roller coaster as he has gotten more attention for the fights he has lost than the ones he has won. In his last fight, Price was victorious in bizarre fashion by disqualification when his opponent Kash Ali was disqualified for biting Price. Though it is not the way any fighter wants or should want to win a fight, it did succeed in Price getting his second victory following his most recent loss at the hands of Sergey Kuzmin in September of last year.
In David Allen, Price will face a fighter who like him has seen ups and downs in his career, but a boxer who will enter the fight on a four fight winning streak that have all come by knockout. The reason one should keep that in mind is all of David Price’s six losses in his thirty professional fights have come by knockout. Price has also been known to suffer from fatigue as a fight goes on so the question of what his stamina and endurance will be like as he enters this fight is a legitimate one to ask.
In his last fight, Allen scored a third round knockout over longtime contender Lucas Browne. Allen has only been stopped twice in his career and with Price’s previous problems regarding his stamina having led to his downfall in previous fights, it is logical to expect that Allen will look to weather an early storm by Price and extend him into the middle rounds with the intention of attempting to get a mid, to late round stoppage.
There have been times throughout Price’s career where he has looked as though he was an emerging star in the Heavyweight division, but his previous losses have many questioning what he may have left to give as a fighter. It is crucial in this observer’s eyes that Price be tactical and pace himself. While it is indeed true that sometimes all a fighter needs is one punch to win a fight, more often than not boxers who know how to conserve their energy on a consistent basis are able to have more success. If this fight goes into the middle and late rounds, Price must show that he is capable of going the full distance if he has to.
While all three of these fights will hopefully produce the type of action that Boxing fans typically crave, the question that will naturally be asked after this card will be whether or not any of the fighters in these bouts will be any closer to fighting for a portion or portions of the World Heavyweight championship. As we saw when top contender Andy Ruiz upset previously undefeated unified Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua last month however, Boxing is a sport of opportunity and regardless of where a fighter’s standing might be in a division, an impressive performance or a string of impressive performances may be the building blocks that could lead to an opportunity like the one Ruiz took advantage of, down the line. We will see what happens on Saturday night.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Whyte vs. Rivas takes place Saturday, July 20th at the O2 Arena in London, England. The full card can be seen in the United States and several countries internationally on digital sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 1PM ET/10AM PT (U.S. Time.) For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of available streaming devices, availability around the world, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on a pay-per-view basis on Sky Box Office beginning at 6PM (Local UK Time) for £19.95. Please visit www.sky.com/Boxoffice for ordering information.
The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.