By Paul Mason
This Saturday sees a good card at London’s 02 Arena, as two Heavyweights on the fringe of World level clash. Brash and outspoken Londoner, Dillian Whyte takes on the unbeaten Australian, and a man who won the regular WBA World Title, before failing a drug test, in Lucas Browne, at the top of the Matchroom promoted bill.
Sky Sports televise here in the UK, while interestingly, HBO air in America.
Here, I preview a stacked card.
Dillian Whyte (22-1, KO16) v Lucas Browne (25-0, KO22) – 12 Rounds, WBC Silver Heavyweight Title
Jamaican born, Brixton resident Dillian Whyte unsuccessfully tried to lure WBC Champion, Deontay Wilder to the ring a few short months ago. This Saturday, inside the magnificent 02 Arena in London, he has to settle for New South Wales’ unbeaten former WBA Champion in Lucas Browne, in order to try to manoeuvre himself into a mandatory slot for a shot at World honours. This is no easy assignment though for Whyte, despite rumours that Browne has been put down in sparring ahead of the fight.
Whyte turned professional in May 2011 and won fifteen straight contests on a diet of mainly Eastern European imports. After stopping American Brian Minto in September 2015 at the 02, the drum was being banged for Whyte to meet his old amateur adversary, and 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist, Anthony Joshua, having held a victory over him in the unpaid code. Months-long war of words followed before the two stepped into the ring to contest the British and Commonwealth crowns. In an eagerly anticipated contest, where Whyte had plenty of successes, he eventually succumbed to Joshua in seven rounds. Joshua, of course, has gone onto become the WBA (Super), IBF and IBO Champion following this win, and Whyte aspires to achieve a rematch with the only man to beat him thus far.
Wins over Ivica Bacurin (KO6) and David Allen (Unanimous decision) got Whyte back on track, and he captured the British Title, stopping Ian Lewison in ten rounds in Glasgow. Whyte was then supposed to make the first defence of his Lonsdale Belt against Dereck Chisora, but the British Boxing Board of Control revoked the fight’s title status after an ill-tempered build-up to the fight. The headline being Chisora throwing a table during a news conference. The fight itself was a classic. In a back and forth fight, where both men were hurt but managed to stay upright, Whyte took a razor-thin, split decision win, much to the crowd in attendance at the Manchester Arena’s dismay.
“The Bodysnatcher” then travelled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to try and sell himself to the American audience, stopping the limited Malcolm Tann in August last year. In his last outing in October 2017, Whyte went through the motions in a dull affair to widely outpoint Robert Helenius on the big Joshua v Takam bill in Cardiff. He comes to a familiar venue to him this Saturday in search of a career-defining performance.
Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne turned professional in March 2009 in his native Australia, recording a knockout win over fellow debutant, Jason Kier. Ten straight wins followed before appearing in Oldham and Manchester in 2012 for two stoppage wins over Paul Butlin and Hastings Rasani. Three fights later, Browne outpointed the shell of a former great, James Toney in Melbourne, to pick up the lightly regarded WBF Heavyweight Title.
He then stopped Travis Walker at the Melbourne Pavillion. Despite being floored in the first round, Browne rebounded to drop Walker in rounds three, five and six, before forcing a retirement at the end of the seventh. Unbeaten Richard Towers was next back in England, at the Ice Arena, Hull. In a wild fight, Browne stopped Sheffield man Towers in five.
Two fights later he returned to Yorkshire to stop Eric Martel Bahoeli in five rounds to pick up the Commonwealth Title. Although he floored Bahoeli twice, Browne suffered a bad cut that survived two doctors inspections. Browne then took the unbeaten record of Andriy Rudenko (Unanimous) in Wolverhampton in August 2014, before beating Chauncy Welliver (RTD 5) and Julius Long (KO9) in his native Australia, to set up a shot at the WBA Heavyweight Title. He would have to travel to Grozny, Russia, to take on Champion, Ruslan Chagaev to take the belt. Browne was six points down on two cards and seven on the third, which included a sixth-round knockdown in favour of Chagaev. Browne was needing a knockout to win going into the last two rounds. He produced just that, knocking down Chagaev in the tenth round, then giving Chagaev a brutal beating after he got up, knocking him around the ring to earn the stoppage and the coveted belt.
Browne was later stripped of the title due to a failed drug test for the banned substance clenbuterol. Browne repeatedly maintained his innocence, however testing on the second sample for the drug again proved positive, and he has also tested positive for Ostarine. Browne returned after a fifteen-month hiatus to knock Matthew Greer out in two rounds last time out in June 2017 in Sydney.
Whyte may start as a marginal favourite, but Browne can bang, as shown with an 88% knockout ratio on his ledger. I think this could be a wild, swing for the fences type of fight, and it rests on who has the most stamina at the end. I just lean towards Whyte by late stoppage or corner retirement, but Browne certainly has the power to test and trouble Whyte.
Two intriguing British Title fights form part of a cracking undercard. Hastily arranged following a swift one round stoppage of Joe Murray in his last outing last month, British Lightweight Champion, Lewis Ritson (14-0, KO8) makes the second defence of his belt against Lytham St Annes’ Scotty Cardle (22-1-1, KO7), a former British Champion at the weight in his own right. Ritson is making a mercurial rise, and I can’t see Cardle being able to stop this after below-par performances against Sean “Masher” Dodd and when shipping the belt to Robbie Barrett, the man who Ritson ruthlessly relieved of the Title. I can see Ritson forcing a just after halfway stoppage after constant pressure.
Frank Buglioni (21-2-1, KO15) finally locks horns with Callum Johnson (16-0, KO11) in an intriguing British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight Title contest. The fight was meant to take place on the Joshua v Takam card in October last year, but Johnson was forced to pull out through injury. Johnson hasn’t been in action since stopping Wilberforce Shehipo to gain the Commonwealth belt back in September 2016. “Wise Guy” Buglioni’s last outing came at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff in defending his British belt against the late substitute, Craig “Spider” Richards (Unanimous Decision), who also appears on this bill. Although Johnson is unbeaten and has a good amateur pedigree, I believe ring rust will play its part, and I favour Buglioni to be the aggressor and pound out a points win, in what should be an entertaining fight.
Dereck Chisora, Jamie Cox and Anthony Fowler all have runouts on the bill.