- Katie Taylor retains world titles by unanimous points decision against Delfine Persoon
- Inside the Matchroom boxing bubble: Covid tests, cricket matches and camaraderie
Drama and disappointment for Dillian Whyte here at 'Matchroom Square Garden' at Fight Camp 4 with the heavyweight's world title aspirations blown away when the Brixton fighter was stunningly knocked out by Russian Alexander Povetkin in a spectacular fifth round turnaround.
The shocked silence was in contrast to a fight in which the Briton had looked comfortable and in control, outboxing the former Olympic champion, and having hurt his foe already with body shots.
Whyte, indeed, defending his WBC Interim title had had Povetkin down twice in the fourth round, the second with a brilliant left uppercut, before he was finished himself by piece of clever artistry which saw Povetkin dip to the left inside and deliver a peach of a left up the middle which left Whyte felled. He was out cold before all 18st of heavyweight hit the ground. They say heavyweight boxing is about knockouts, and the manner of this curtain falling on the event evidenced that with brutal clarity.
"It was a shock, and Dillian almost had that fight in the bag," said promoter Eddie Hearn afterwards. "There is a rematch clause and the first thing Dillian said to me afterwards is 'get me the rematch'. We will be exercising that rematch clause and getting the fight on later this year. I do believe Dillian can come back and avenge defeat."
It was always a risky fight, and Whyte - not to mention Hearn - knew it, but they gambled and the anticipated world title contest up next against the winner of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder trilogy fight has evaporated for now. What must stick in the craw for Whyte is that he has laid claim to a world title challenge for the last one thousand days as either the WBC's No 1 challenger or more recently, mandatory challenger.
This was the fourth and last of the 'Matchroom Square Garden' series over the last month on the 15-acre site of Matchroom Sport, in Brentwood, Essex. Whyte second career defeat was watched by British heavyweight rival and triple world title belt holder Anthony Joshua, looking lean and fit who explained that he "ready to go" while working as a member of the Sky Box Office presentation team. Whyte will be bitterly disappointed by the outcome, but as he explained to Telegraph Sport this week, he has been a risk taker since growing up in poverty as a child in Kingston, Jamaica. But being a battler, a warrior, is in the 33-year-old, who will dust himself off and come back stronger. "It is what it is, we'll do it again," said Whyte.
"That's heavyweight boxing." Some things will never change. The survival instinct of 'The Bodysnatcher' from Brixton is one of them.
Whyte will look for a rematch
Povetkin may not necessarily fight Fury or Wilder next. Whyte has a rematch clause, but that looks a very dangerous task after than heavy knockout.
Povetkin tore up the script
That was looking like the night Whyte became a more mature and complete fighter and he looked in complete control after four rounds. Eddie Hearn is speaking now and said he felt the fight was practically over after four rounds. But, as the old cliche goes, one punch changed everything.
How did that happen?!
It was a big left upper cut
Caught Whyte on the chin and that was the end of the contest. There will be no meeting with Fury or Wilder for Whyte, instead Povetkin will step up for another shot at the WBC title.
POVETKIN WINS BY KO!
What were we saying....that is one of the most shocking turnarounds you will ever see. Povetkin had not won a round but caught Whyte with one punch that floored him. The medical people are seeing to Whyte...and fortunately he is now back on his feet. There was no chance of Whyte fighting on after that blow. Talk about a one-punch wonder - that is a stunning smash and grab victory from Povetkin.
Povetkin down on one knee! Excellent display of speed from Whyte to catch Povetkin with a short left hook when the Russima tried to get up close and personal. Povetkin is back up but is not really in the contest so far. This is possibly the most confident and polished spell of boxing Whyte has produced in his career.
Povetkin down again with around 15 seconds of the round left! Whyte with a left upper cut to hammer home his advantage. Surely a matter of when not if the KO comes. But Povektin lives to fight another round.
Povetkin looks shaky on his legs, lacking agility and balance. There is a mark under the right eye of Povetkin, and Whyte softens him up with another body shot. A very positive first quarter to the fight from Whyte.
Whyte lands a hurtful body shot that Povetkin certainly felt. This is an assured start from Whyte, forcing Povetkin back to his corner. Many anticipated a fast start from the Russian but it has not materialised. More than a stone lighter than last time out, there has been some good footwork on display from Whyte.
Our man's verdict on Taylor
Brilliant exciting fight again between @KatieTaylor and Delfine Persoon very close again but agreed with 96-94 to Taylor this time.— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) August 22, 2020
Smarter fight. Better boxing.
Problem is with strength of Persoon.
She is simply much stronger pic.twitter.com/Ps7dIFLBRw
Whyte has spent 1000 days as WBC challenger and this has been a patient start. Both fighters sizing each other up but Whyte is using his jab to good effect. He looks far leaner than on previous appearances. We are yet to see anything too expansive from Povetkin. Cagey stuff in the opening round.
The bell rings!
Joshua is ringside, he is the only fighter to beat both Povetkin and Whyte. We are under way!
Quite the display at Chez Hearn
Hate to think what the bill for that firework display will be. Don't try that at home.
Sweet Caroline time...
Whyte and Povetkin are making their way to the ring for the headline event.
Still the undisputed world lightweight champion
Count ‘em! #AndStill@KatieTaylor retains the gold 98-93, 96-94, 96-94...— Matchroom: Fight Camp Tonight! (@MatchroomBoxing) August 22, 2020
👑 Ring Magazine
Undisputed Lightweight Champion 🙌#FightCamp #TaylorPersoon2 #FightCamp4 pic.twitter.com/Venx6At8ZC
Fair to say not everyone agrees with that decision
Especially the judge who had it 98-93. That said, Persoon says she has no complaints with the result and believes the extra weight she is carrying since New York hurt here.
I knew I had to dig deep at some stage in the fight but I though I boxed a lot better than last time.
Taylor wins by unanimous points decision - by five rounds on judge's cards, and by two rounds on the other two. She retains all her lightweight titles. Will Persoon feel hard done by? She is applauding.
Over to the judges
Sky have one in favour of Persoon and one in favour of a draw - in short this was a difficult one to score!
Both fighters exchange big right hands as the clock ticks down, Taylor is digging in and trying to survive in the final 30 seconds. She needs to be careful not to get trapped in any clinches, but both fighters go all the way to the bell! Phenomenal effort levels from both fighters, neither could be toppled. How do you call that one?
Taylor does land a beautiful right hand but it's still not enough to dissuade Persoon from staying on the offensive. She has been relentless in her desire to attack and get on top of Taylor. Persoon's fitness and stamina are remarkable considering she is a part-timer! Taylor gasps for air as she goes back to her corner. One round to go!
Persoon is of course fueled by a sense of injustice after that points decision in New York that caused plenty of consternation. Can Taylor find another gear in the last three rounds? Taylor looks a little tired, and Persoon caught he flush with a right hand there! Probably the best punch of the fight when Taylor was wide open with hands down. That was undoubtedly Persoon's round. All of Sky's judges have Persoon in front!
Good right hand from Taylor at the start of the round, but once again Persoon comes on strong as the two minutes progress. Taylor needs to jab a bit more, we have not seen too much of that.
Have it 4-2 Taylor through 6..another gruelling fight #FightCamp— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) August 22, 2020
You have to admire Persoon's persistence, she is throwing most of the punches and attacking constantly. Taylor's defensive work has been good but you sense she needs to land something significant soon to make the judges take notice. "We're giving her s--- she shouldn't be getting" is the word in Taylor's corner, and there is egg-shaped swelling on her forehead.
Taylor is under more pressure now, but she is taking the sting out of Persoon's attempted blows by blocking and swaying. The Belgian does get a dangerous overhand right off towards the end of the round, but Taylor also caught her well with a left hook. A close one to call, but Taylor ahead you would think at the halfway round.
Persoon is so determined to get close and disrupt Taylor's rhythm and make this a brawl. When will Taylor engage or will she stick to her gameplan? Persooon has a couple of big swings that Taylor evades easily.
Persoon does land a couple of right hands for the first time in the fight, but Taylor skips back towards the centre of the ring to try and get herself out of trouble. Sometimes she can be tempted into a risky counter-attack after being caught, but she is keeping her shape. By far Persoon's best round of the fight, something has lit a fire underneath her.
Taylor will be pleased with her opening round's work. Her jab looks sharp and her superior boxing skills look to be shining through. Persoon trying to apply some pressure but is not laying a glove on Taylor, and the Belgian is already bleeding - it looks to be an abrasion just under her right eye. Good stuff from the defending champion.
Taylor gets a left hook off early which is a promising start as she tries to keep her distance from Persoon who wants to make this a scrap. The two fighters get up close and personal and the referee steps in to break them up. The word is Taylor is lighter in her legs this time around and she will need that footwork to stay clear of a gnarly opponent.
The bell goes!
Can Taylor reassert her status as the superstar of women's boxing? 10 rounds, remember.
The ringwalks are here
Persoon, who is a policewoman in her native Belgium, is the announced, followed by the strong favourite Taylor.
Joshua is backing Taylor
He believes Taylor will adjust her tactics and learn from her mistakes in the first fight. Taylor needs a more disciplined and technical performance tonight. "Put your ego to one side and use your smarts," says Johnny Nelson.
10 minutes in fact
Taylor up very soon
She is prowling around her dressing room and should be walking to the ring before too long.
A breakthrough night for Kongo!
He looked almighty close to a KO at a few stages of that fight but in the ninth round the towel is finally thrown in from Clay's corner. The former champion tried his best to take it the distance, but it was clear his race was run.
Halfway through Clay vs Kongo
The boy from Bermondsey Kongo must be ahead after a storming fifth round. He had Clay hanging on in that round, just trying to clench Kongo and survive. Can he make his advantage count or will Clay reassert himself?
Another call for this
Gareth A Davies takes us inside the Matchroom bubble. Here is a taster:
It will likely be the only crowd-free pay-per-view event the 10 fighters involved will ever take part in, and the experience is far from straightforward. On arrival, everyone on site undergoes a Covid swab test of nose and throat before isolating in "the cell block", as some call it, for 12-14 hours awaiting the results. Masks are then mandatory inside the hotel. Once cleared, though, the atmosphere lightens in a way that is unheard of in an ordinary fight week, with drinks on the terrace and impromptu games of cricket om the lawn between ex-boxers and staff (rain finally stopped play on Wednesday). There seems a genuine air of camaraderie, and a lack of testosterone-fuelled pre-fight hype.
Up next is Luther Clay v Chris Kongo
They are contesting the WBO global welterweight championship, currently held by Clay (an auspicious surname for a boxer, that one).
Before the fight Kongo, who stands at more than six feet tall said: "I don’t think this fight will last the distance. Someone is going down, and I’m sure it won’t be me.
"I see him as a quality opponent. He has a few good fundamentals that I've noticed, but on the night I believe he’s limited in what he does. I’ve seen his last few fights, and I don’t think he has any good finishing qualities like an elite fighter.
Babic has an alter-ego: The Savage
As you can see, there's not much of Robbie or Lily about him:
How Katie Taylor's mother Bridget became her secret weapon
If you want to know more about Taylor, this piece by Gareth A Davies is enlightening.
Babic made light work of that
The referee brings a stop to proceedings with Winters on the canvas again before the end of the second rounf. Babic is a sparring partner of Whyte and looks a raw but exciting prospect. A right hand had Winters wobbling and he was already on his way down when he walked into Babic's left. Four wins from four for Babic since turning pro last year.
Winters knocked down in the first round!
Was back on his feet quickly but Babic caught him on the jaw with a right-left combination. Food for thought as Winters returns to his corner.
Alen Babic and Shawndell Winters are in the ring now
These two had a bit of a ding-dong at the press conference this week. Eight rounds of heavyweight boxing on the way as we work our way through the undercard. Taylor likely to be up next.
Jack Cullen and Zak Chelli have gone all 10 rounds
That fight served up value for money, but Chelli may have caught the judges' eye a little more. Whyte has just arrived on the premises with a hoodie that has 'Maximum Violence' printed on the front.
Nothing can separate Cullen and Chelli in fact, it is a split draw! Judges made it 97-93 Chelli, 96-95 Cullen, 95-95.
Katie Taylor warming up
A lot of pressure on Taylor tonight after she won a controversial points verdict against Pearsoon in New York. Critics are wondering if she is the product of Hearn-generated hype but her fans believe she might just be the best fighter ever produced by the island of Ireland.
Our man in...Brentwood
Will Whyte be rewarded for his patience?
Dillian Whyte has waited years for a shot at the WBC world title, so why not wait a few more months?
Whyte was due to fight Alexander Povetkin in this WBC 'interim' heavyweight title fight in May before the coronavirus intervened, but now he gets his chance to set up a potential meeting with Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder with victory tonight at Eddie Hearn's 'Fight Camp'.
Quite when that fight would take place remains unclear given the state of the world and scheduling complications, but WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has said Whyte should fight the victor of Fury v Wilder 3 if he prevails tonight. So there is no shortage of incentive for 'The Bodysnatcher'.
Povetkin is 40 and is at a significant physical disadvantage - almost two stone lighter than Whyte and a couple of inches shorter - but should not be underestimated. The only defeats in his career have come against Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.
Speaking about Povetkin, Joshua said: "He's good, a good fighter who hasn't been on the losing end much so hasn't got used to that feeling.
"He still has the hunger and will go in against Dillian thinking he can win. It will go to a points decision."
Before Whyte and Povetkin, Katie Taylor faces Delfine Persoon in a world title rematch. Persoon took Taylor all the way in the first meeting in New York although Taylor won on points, with some pundits feeling the Irish fighter was guilty of sinking down to her opponent's level. Taylor will be looking to avoid becoming embroiled in another brawl tonight and instead cement herself as a modern legend and the undisputed lightweight champion. Persoon is a 34-year-old policewoman from Belgium, and she relished coming within a whisker of silencing all those who gave her no chance before the first meeting. She will remain dangerous.