Alexander Povetkin-Dillian Whyte 2 and the history of the direct rematch
Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte was looking to solidify a long overdue shot at the WBC title when he faced Alexander Povetkin on August 22 in the showpiece event of a Matchroom Fight Camp in London.
Whyte has never been shy of a challenge and was happy to face the grizzled Russian veteran, and for four rounds he was doing his thing. Povetkin had been on the canvas twice and Whyte looked like he was on his way to an impressive stoppage triumph.
However, early in the fifth round, Povetkin uncorked a perfect left uppercut that landed square on the Brit’s jaw and Whyte was out before he hit the canvas. Just like that a heavyweight dream lay in tatters. It was a stark reminder to us all of the beautiful carnage that can unfold inside the squared circle.
To his credit, Whyte, who is a real fighting man, quickly invoked his rematch clause. The original date of November 21 was pushed back after Povetkin tested positive for COVID-19, then it was March 6, and now, finally, the bout will go ahead on Saturday.
Will Povetkin be fitting fit after his brush with Covid? Will Whyte be the same fighter after such a devastating knockout loss?
Here we look back at five direct rematches where a fighter exacted revenge and five that didn’t quite work out:
FIVE THAT WORKED
Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks
September 15, 1978, Superdome New Orleans, Louisiana
The infinitely more experienced Ali, 36, surprisingly handed a seven-fight novice a shot at his undisputed championship. The only thing more shocking was that the 24-year-old Spinks, who’d claimed Olympic gold at Montreal 1976, managed to edge Ali by hard fought split decision. Later that year, in the final victory of his legendary career, “The Greatest” turned back father time to comfortably regain his titles in front of 63,350 fans.
Result: Ali UD 15
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran
November 25, 1980, Superdome New Orleans
Two of the biggest stars in the sport met in June 1980 in a battle that lived up to its billing. Leonard decided to go toe-to-toe with Duran, which played into the hands of the Panamanian great, who edged an excellent fight by close but unanimous decision. While Duran celebrated the victory and got heavy, Leonard doubled down and the two met five months later. This time, a zoned in, razor-sharp Leonard used all of his skills and cunning to befuddle Duran, who notoriously quit the bout in the eighth round.
Result: Leonard TKO 8
Lennox Lewis vs. Hasim Rahman
November 17, 2001, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
While Lewis was moonlighting on the set of Ocean’s Eleven in Las Vegas, Rahman was preparing diligently and arrived in South Africa in ample time to acclimatize. Lewis had overlooked Rahman and was stunningly knocked out in the fifth round by a single right-hand shot. The two met seven months later in Las Vegas and a more focused and determined Lewis scored a highlight-reel knockout of his own to exact revenge and regain his old titles.
Result: Lewis KO 4
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton
January 28, 2017, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Santa Cruz entered the first fight in July 2016 as favorite, however, his camp was disrupted because his father-trainer, Jose, was battling cancer. As always, Santa Cruz fought hard, but he wasn’t able to off-set Frampton’s game plan and dropped a majority decision. The Mexican enforced his rematch clause and buoyed by news of his father’s improved health, turned the tables on Frampton, using his reach to nullify the Belfast man and claim a majority decision.
Result: Santa Cruz MD 12
Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz
December 7, 2019, Diriyah Arena, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
Joshua had been scheduled to face Jarrell Miller in his much-anticipated U.S. debut in June 2019. However, when Miller failed a drug test in stepped Andy Ruiz Jr. at short notice. Little was expected of the rotund Californian, but he rose from a third round knockdown to drop Joshua four times, annexing IBF, WBA and WBO titles. The British superstar quickly exercised his rematch clause and soundly outboxed an overweight and ill-prepared Ruiz over 12 strategic rounds to regain his titles.
Result: Joshua UD 12
FIVE THAT DIDN’T WORK
Jersey Joe Walcott vs. Rocky Marciano
May 15, 1953, Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Marciano, who was 10 years Walcott’s junior, got off the canvas in the opening round to knock out Walcott with a devastating right hand in the 13th. At the time of the stoppage Marciano was behind on points in what was later named The Ring Magazine Fight of The Year. The new champion granted Walcott an immediate rematch and quickly went about his work, dropping the veteran with a left hook-right uppercut combination. Although Walcott listened intently to the count, referee Frank Sikora reached 10 and the former champ complained bitterly about the stoppage. It would be the final fight of his career.
Result: Marciano KO 1
Mark Johnson vs. Rafael Marquez
February 23, 2002, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
Through much of the 1990s, Johnson was one of the best little men around, winning world titles at 112 and 115 pounds, however, he was unable to secure a big fight or unification with his contemporaries. As a result, Johnson stepped up to bantamweight to face the big-punching Marquez, who was in the considerable shadow of his more famous brother, Juan Manuel. It was a standout moment for the Mexican, who edged Johnson by 10-round split decision. Just four months later they locked horns again and this time the bigger, fresher Marquez left no doubt, dropping “Too Sharp” twice on his way to an emphatic eighth-round stoppage.
Result: Marquez TKO 8
Shane Mosley vs. Vernon Forrest
July 20, 2002, Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Mosley had lived up to his nickname of “Sugar” by putting together a strong championship run at lightweight before jumping to welterweight where he continued to dazzle. After winning the WBC belt from fellow Californian Oscar De La Hoya, Mosley’s next serious challenge came against former amateur rival Vernon Forrest. The classic boxing of the taller Forrest gave Mosley fits and the Atlanta man posted a surprisingly wide unanimous decision victory. The two met six months later and Forrest repeated the win, again by unanimous decision. Ironically, Forrest would lose his next fight to Ricardo Mayorga and the rematch.
Result: Forrest UD 12
Antonio Tarver vs. Chad Dawson
May 9, 2009, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
Dawson was too busy for Tarver and punctuated his victory with a final-round flash knockdown to claim the veteran’s IBF 175-pound title. The two were due to rematch in March 2009 but Dawson suffered a hand injury that pushed the fight back two months. Tarver was known to be very good at adjusting and winning rematches, having turned the tables on Eric Harding, Glen Johnson and, most impressively, Roy Jones Jr. However, on this occasion, he was unable to figure out Dawson and dropped another wide unanimous decision.
Result: Dawson UD 12
Roman Gonzalez vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
September 9, 2017, StubHub Center, Carson, California
Pound-for-pound No. 1 “Chocolatito” Gonzalez entered the first fight as a four-weight titleholder with a pristine 46-0 record. In front of him was a hard-hitting former WBC 115-pound beltholder, who was perceived to be out of his depth. However, Sor Rungvisai edged a close-run battle by 12-round majority decision and controversy surrounding the scoring led to an immediate return. This time the marauding Thai left no room for doubt, leaving Gonzalez flat on his back in the fourth round.
Result: Sor Rungvisai KO 4
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