Whyte and Brown Fight to Stay in Title Mix

 Photo: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

By Nat Gottlieb

There was a time earlier in the new millennia when heavyweight boxing had lost much of its longtime allure for boxing fans. The fights were largely dull affairs with a lot of mismatches. 

But times have changed. The heavyweight buzz is back.

Not only have unbeaten champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua brought renewed excitement to the division, but there are several contenders who’ve also generated a lot of interest, such as Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne. 

Saturday night Whyte and Browne, two hard-hitting heavyweights with seriously bad blood between them, will square off in England with a title shot possibly up for grabs. The fight from the O2 Arena in London will be shown live on HBO Boxing After Dark at 6 PM ET/PT (replayed at 10 PM ET/PT).

Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) burst onto the scene in 2015. At the time, while he was unbeaten in 16 fights, he had only faced the usual suspects. But then he was matched up against the future champion, Joshua, who had knocked out his first 14 opponents, none of whom had lasted beyond three rounds.

Few gave Whyte a chance to go any further than Joshua’s previous victims had gone. But Whyte was game. He caught Joshua’s attention in the second round by landing a hard left-right combo to the head that hurt the favorite and caused him to stagger backwards. Whyte went for the knockout, throwing a flurry of power punches. But Joshua lasted the round, and Whyte had clearly used up a lot of his stamina.

“When I fought Joshua, I wasn’t in the best of shape and got worn down,” Whyte says.

Despite Joshua having been hurt by Whyte, the heavily partisan crowd was still anticipating a quick end to the fight. Whyte disappointed them. Game, although somewhat depleted, Whyte took Joshua into round seven. Any hopes of an upset ended when a right hook to the temple by Joshua sent Whyte sprawling to the canvas. Whyte showed heart by getting up and fighting for 30 more seconds before a vicious uppercut put him down for good. 

Although he had lost the fight, Whyte had gained in stature. After that bout, Whyte made a commitment to better eating and conditioning habits and has since won six straight fights.

The 38-year-old Browne (25-0, 22 KOs), who hails from Australia, took a different path to this fight. Two years ago, he traveled to Russia to face reigning champion Ruslan Chagaev on his own turf. Up until that bout, Browne had fought no one of distinction and was widely regarded as just a tune-up for Chagaev.

For most of the early rounds, while Browne boxed and moved well, it was clear Chagaev outclassed him and was piling up points on the scorecards. It looked even more dismal for Browne in the sixth round when Chagaev teased him with a right to the body and then landed a clubbing straight left to the face that knocked the Aussie down. When Browne got up, the champion moved in fast to try and take him out. Chagaev connected with six or seven power shots, but Browne managed to stay on his feet until the bell.

By lasting the round, Browne had changed the complexion of the fight. Chagaev had expended a tremendous amount of energy trying to finish Browne. The champion was clearly breathing heavily when he returned to his corner.

Over the next three rounds, Chagaev looked sluggish, and while he did land some power shots, they no longer had the same effect they had earlier. 

 Photo: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

Browne entered the 10th round behind on all three scorecards, 88-82 twice, and 88-81. But with just under a minute left in the round, Chagaev threw a left hook that Browne ducked under. Standing square-footed, Chagaev tried to follow with a right hand but Browne beat him to the punch with a right hook to the temple. Down went the champion. Chagaev managed to get up at seven, but Browne quickly trapped him on the ropes and threw a flurry of unanswered shots that caused the referee to step in and stop it.

Browne had made history by becoming the first Australian to win a heavyweight title. His day in the sun was short lived. A post-fight urine analysis showed the presence of a banned substance. The Aussie was stripped of his title two months later. Although the ruling was later overturned, and he was cleared of any wrong-doing, eight months after that Browne failed another drug test and lost his title. 

It’s no surprise then that in preparation for his fight with Whyte, Browne has used the hashtag #roadtoredemption on all his social media.

Whyte also has some redeeming to do. 

In December of 2016 he fought Derek Chisora, a heavyweight contender who had lasted 12 rounds with both Vitali Klitschko and future champion Tyson Fury. Whyte, who likes to work outside and box behind his jab, let Chisora bully him into an inside fight. For 12 rounds they brawled with the kind of ebb and flow reminiscent of a Gatti-Ward fight. When the donnybrook was over, Whyte had won a razor thin split decision, 115-113, 115-114, and 114-115.

Many writers, however, felt Chisora had won the fight. Fully aware of that, Whyte knows he desperately needs to beat Browne in order to keep his title hopes. 

Adding some zest to what already shapes up as an enticing fight, there is some seriously bad blood between the two boxers.

At a press conference to promote the bout, both Whyte and Browne engaged in a verbal war, showing strong disdain for each other. “You’re a junkie, mate, a junkie,” Whyte said. When Browne asked how he was a junkie, Whyte said, “You failed a test, and eight months later, while the case is still going on, you fail another test. This is madness. Why would you ever do that?”

Strange words from Whyte, considering he was suspended from boxing two years from 2012 to 2014 due to a failed drug test of his own.

Clearly riled by Whyte’s words, Browne fired back. “I come to fight,” he said. “I do my talking in the ring. If he wants to be a pork chop on social media, that’s his problem. If he has to sell fights by being an idiot, I’m very happy to knock his head in.”

When asked if he was afraid of Browne’s power, Whyte said, “Look, I’ve fought many strong guys. No way Lucas Browne has the same power of AJ (Joshua). Browne is old and slow now.”

Browne laughed that off. “I’ve always got the power,” he said. “So, I can lose 11 rounds and still knock you out and win the fight. From that point of view, I’m dangerous to anyone on the planet.”

So is Whyte.

Given the bad blood between these fighters, and a title shot at stake, this promises to be a fierce and fan-pleasing bout. 

CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Whyte vs. Browne

 Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

By CompuBox

March has been a busy month in boxing, especially at heavyweight. WBC titlist Deontay Wilder removed Luis Ortiz from the title equation thanks to a thrilling 10th round TKO while, on March 31, WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua will meet WBO counterpart Joseph Parker before another large crowd in Wales. But while that quartet has garnered most of the headlines, there is activity among its ranks.

One such fight pairs Dillian Whyte (who gave Joshua one of his toughest moments in round two of their fight thanks to a counter hook) and undefeated Australian power hitter Lucas Browne, who, at age 38, must make his mark now. Although Whyte will enjoy home ring advantage at the O2 in London, Browne is no stranger to British audiences as this will be his sixth fight in the UK, where he is 5-0 with four knockouts. Will he improve that mark or will Whyte, called "The Body Snatcher" (with apologies to Mike McCallum) snatch the big Aussie as well as his "zero."


Busy Hands

The average heavyweight throws 44.7 punches per round, but in his last four, Whyte averaged 76.3,  including a robust 78.5 in his three tracked fights following the loss to Joshua in December 2015. In fact, Whyte established a new CompuBox record at heavyweight by throwing 1,112 punches in 10 rounds against David Allen, surpassing the previous record of 1,102 set by Owen Beck against George Arias in September 2003 -- a mark that was achieved over 12 rounds.

Also, Whyte grabbed the top two spots in terms of punches thrown in a round; his 141 in round three tied the record set by Adam Kownacki in round six against Rodney Hernandez in October 2015 while his 140 in round four earned Whyte the number-two ranking. Other marks he set against Allen was 526 jabs thrown in a fight (ninth all-time) and 80 jabs thrown in round four (eighth all-time). By the way, Whyte's 87 attempted jabs in round one against Kamil Sokolowski in December 2014 is third all-time at heavyweight in fights counted by CompuBox, so Whyte is no stranger to making CompuBox top-10 lists.

While Whyte blew away his early competition — his 16 pre-Joshua fights averaged 2.8 rounds — his six bouts following the Joshua loss have averaged 8.8 rounds.

Four of his last five have lasted at least ten rounds, including a pair of 12-rounders against Dereck Chisora and Robert Helenius. The Chisora bout was one of 2016's best heavyweight brawls, but Whyte separated himself with superior volume (75.9 per round to Chisora's 53.1), better jabbing (31.2 thrown/6.7 connects per round to Chisora's 18.9 and 3.2) and ability to bounce back from Chisora's huge rounds in rounds five and eight. In the end, Whyte led 295-244 overall, 80-39 jabs and 215-205 power despite being less accurate in all phases (38%-32% overall, 21%-17% jabs, 50%-40%). Against Helenius, Whyte walked down the giant Finn (who injured his right hand midway through the fight), blasted the body (115 connects, including 31 body jabs), maintained a healthier pace (53.8 per round to Helenius' 30.9), out-jabbed the taller man (24.8 thrown/7.2 connects per round to Helenius' 18.2/3.6) and recorded big statistical gaps (244-89 overall, 87-43 jabs, 157-46 power as well as 38%-24% overall, 29%-20% jabs and 45%-30% power). He'll need to do the same against Browne, who, at 6-foot-5, is an inch taller, but, at 78 inches, has a one-inch shorter reach.

Late-Round Specialist

Browne has the physique and attitude of a brawler, but inside the ring he fights often on the back foot and probes for openings before striking. Although Browne has scored his share of early KOs (14 of his 21 KOs have occurred in the first four rounds), he has demonstrated excellent late-round strength. Former WBA titlist Ruslan Chagaev, who floored Browne in round six, was knocked down for good in round 10 with a powerful fight cross. It was a good thing Browne scored the TKO win, for despite out-landing Chagaev 111-104 overall and 37-15 jabs to off-set Chagaev's 89-74 lead in power connects, it was the hometown Russian who was way up on all scorecards (88-82 twice, 88-81). He showed similar comeback capacity against seven-footer Julius Long, who stunned the Australian with a series of lefts in round four, one round after Browne complained of pain in the right hand.

Still, Browne dug down and out-landed Long 75-12 overall and 58-6 power in rounds 7-9, scoring a knockdown in the eighth and finishing the fight with a huge hook at the end of the ninth. For the fight, Browne led 153-72 overall, 33-24 jabs and 120-48 power as well as 44%-28% overall, 42%-24% jabs and 44%-30% power. Another strong finishing kick occurred in rounds 10-12 against Andriy Rudenko (84-47 overall, 46-14 jabs, 38-34 power), expanding his final leads to 240-180 overall and 116-47 jabs and cut Rudenko's lead in power connects to 133-124. Again, Browne was more precise in all phases (43%-25% overall, 41%-165 jabs, 45%-31% power), allowing him to compensate for his lower volume (48.7 per round to Rudenko's 60.5). Given this history -- and Whyte's ability to throw hands from first bell to last -- it's likely that Browne will have to weather another storm if he is to achieve victory.

Inside The Numbers

Whyte is nicknamed 'The Body Snatcher' and aptly so, as 33.2% of his landed punches (last 4 fights) have been to the body of opponents.  He threw 22 more punches per round than the avg. heavyweight and also landed 7 jabs per round.  Red flag: Opponents landed 38.5% of their power punches vs Whyte. Browne, making a huge step up in class, landed 48.1% of his power shots, while his rather non-descript opponents landed 35.6% of their power shots.  So it appears we're in for a high-contact heavyweight fight.


At 29, Whyte is almost exactly nine years older than Browne, and he's fighting at home. Moreover, Browne, though he remains undefeated, has a frightening tendency to bleed. Of his five CompuBox-tracked fights between April 2014 and March 2016, Browne suffered cuts in four fights (left eyelid against Eric Martel Bahoeli from a butt; forehead, right ear and lower lip against Rudenko; left eye against Chauncey Welliver, and left eye vs. Chagaev). Those factors will be too much for Browne to overcome, and, as a result, Whyte will pound out a decisive points victory.

Sadam Ali Returns to the Ring to Battle Liam Smith on May 12

 Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Sadam "World Kid" Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) will defend his WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship against hard-hitting former world champion and No .1 contender Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The event takes place Saturday, May 12 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 PM ET/PT.

Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has always displayed the skills of a future world champion. The 29-year-old pride of Brooklyn, N.Y. held multiple regional titles and scored important wins against the likes of Francisco “Chia” Santana, Luis Carlos “El Potro” Abregu and former interim WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Johan “El Terrible” Perez.  Though suffering a setback in a welterweight title fight against Jessie Vargas, Ali silenced his doubters by moving up to 154 pounds to defeat future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto in Dec. 2017. The newly-crowned WBO Junior Middleweight Champion will face a tough challenge in Smith, a former holder of the same 154-pound title.

“It felt great to accomplish my dream of becoming world champion,” said Sadam Ali. “I’m excited to defend my title and to demonstrate that it is not up for grabs. Liam Smith is a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll be ready, but so will I.”

Smith, the first of an impressive stable of brothers to win a world title, is a 29-year-old native of Liverpool, England. After scoring 20 impressive victories as a professional, Smith defeated John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson via seventh-round technical knockout to capture the WBO 154-pound title that Ali currently holds. Smith then faced Canelo Alvarez in front of over 50,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith lost the title in an impressive show of heart and determination, and after three consecutive victories, he is ready to regain the title that was once his.

“I’m very happy that we’ve got this fight,” said Liam Smith. “I’m looking forward to pitting myself against a good fighter in Sadam Ali, a former Olympian and now world champion who is coming off the back of a good win against Miguel Cotto. I’m confident going into this fight. I know I’m naturally the bigger man, and that will come into play, especially in the type of fight that I think it will be.”

“Sadam Ali climbed onto the world championship stage with one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he snatched the WBO Junior Middleweight World Title from Four-Division, Six Time World Champion, and Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Being in the ring with a hungry fighter with a world championship belt on his resume like Liam Smith will be nothing new to Ali. Sadam will prove yet again he’s someone to watch out for in the division.”

“This is Liam’s chance to reclaim his world title,” said Frank Warren. “He’s come through two hard fights against Liam Williams to earn his shot, and he’s done what he set out to do. When he lost his belt against Canelo Alvarez, Liam said he would be a world champion again, and on May 12 he will deliver on that promise.”

PODCAST: Ep 241 Whyte-Browne Preview and Harold Lederman Interview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney preview Saturday's heavyweight showdown from London between Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne, then they're joined by HBO's unofficial judge Harold Lederman for a conversation covering the Golovkin-Canelo scoring, what kind of fights are hardest to judge, the fight Harold would most like to see made, and much more.

Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne Engage in a Heavyweight Showdown Across the Pond on March 24


HBO Boxing jets across the Atlantic to familiar territory – the boxing hotbed of London, England for an important heavyweight matchup as HBO Boxing After Dark: Dillian Whyte vs. Lucas Browne is presented Saturday, March. 24 at 6:00 PM. (ET/ PT) with a same-day replay at 10:00 PM. (ET/PT) from the landmark O2 venue in London. The HBO Sports team will call all the action, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.

The 12-round heavyweight tilt matches Britain’s Dillian Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) in a major showdown against Lucas Browne (25-0, 22 KOs) of Australia. The two fighters are looking to move up the suddenly crowded and formidable heavyweight ladder.  A win for either fighter puts them in prime positon for a bigger showdown later in the year.

While Whyte has the home crowd advantage fighting in front of a partisan audience, Browne has shown a willingness to travel and will be making his sixth ring appearance on British soil.  Though they have only met at press conferences, the two fighters have sparked a hot rivalry and both are heading into the late March showdown determined to register a convincing victory.

WATCH: Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 Fan Event - Canelo Alvarez Interview

HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney speaks with Canelo Alvarez at the Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 kickoff fan event in Los Angeles. Watch Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 on Saturday, May 5 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on HBO Pay-Per-View.

PODCAST Ep 240: Andy Lee Interview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney catch up with newly retired former middleweight titleholder Andy Lee for a conversation about his decision to hang up the gloves, his Olympic experience, working with the great Emanuel Steward, what to expect in the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch, and what other middleweights right now can threaten the Canelo-GGG winner.

PODCAST Ep 239: Kovalev-Mikhalkin, Bivol-Barrera Postfight

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney look back on dominant knockout wins for Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and glance ahead to when the two elite light heavyweights might meet in the ring, plus they reflect on last week's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fan event at LA Live.