|Venue: Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp, Essex Date: 22 August|
|Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app; updates pre and post fight on 5 Live Boxing with Costello & Bunce|
If Dillian Whyte beats Alexander Povetkin on Saturday he will then fight the winner of Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder for the WBC world heavyweight title. In his new column, he talks about growing up in Jamaica without his mum and experiencing racism for the first time when he moved to England, through to his charity chicken challenge against Eddie Hearn and why he howls like a werewolf before every fight…
Like a Top Gear challenge
On 14 March I got a call from my manager saying I’d have to leave for my training camp in Portugal the next day. The borders were about to close. As I wanted to bring my dogs – Zeus, Titan and Hades – that meant I couldn’t fly.
Three of us, in three cars, headed to the Channel Tunnel and drove in convoy from France. Someone hit a pothole, someone got lost, and then my bank cards got blocked because I was using them in different countries. It felt like a challenge on Top Gear!
Lockdown hasn’t been that strange though. It’s felt like a normal training camp, but with the addition of a versaclimber – this horrendous new machine, which mimics the sensation of climbing a mountain. You have to move your legs and arms at speed. That thing is the worst cardio machine I’ve ever used. It’s pure punishment.
The difficult thing has obviously been not seeing my family. If I’m not too tired after training I try to speak to them, especially my mum.
But I’m really close with my team and I always make sure we have a laugh. One morning, very early, I knocked on everyone’s doors to wake them up. I’m always doing things like that. There’s only so many punches you can throw in a day!
I understand racism, I just don’t get it
When I was two, my mum moved to England to work but I had to stay in Jamaica with my brothers and sisters. It was really hard. I was starved, given no bed to sleep in, mistreated, this and that.
My mum was sending through money for people to take care of me, but they were keeping it and lying to her. When I spoke to my mum on the phone I said I was fine as I didn’t want her worrying.
I moved to England when I was 12 to be with my mum, which is when I first experienced racism. Someone called me a ‘black so and so’ at school. It didn’t bother me. But that’s when I realised I was different. Even the police would call me names.
Growing up in Jamaica, there were no white people or black people, we were just Jamaicans, we were just people.
Race means nothing to me. Racism is something I understand, but I just don’t get it. Why would you think you’re better than someone? No-one’s better than anyone.
Eddie Hearn cheated!
Gaming is something I do to relax. I always win, so the lads accuse me of paying for cheat codes.
I love playing Fight Night. But it only has old boxers on it. I wish I could pick myself and fight Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua and get their belts, and then fight some of the legends, like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
I’d love to have been able to fight them and see how my skills compare.
I also love cooking. I had to learn to cook from about six. I’d just put simple ingredients together and that hasn’t really changed. I cook a lot for the guys in camp and cooked a barbecue on my birthday.
I recently had a cook-off against Eddie Hearn for charity. We had to make a chicken burger. I went all out – grilled and pan-fried the chicken, added lettuce, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, even pineapple. Eddie just got a baguette, made some chicken mayonnaise and that was it… and he won.
He cheated! You can put whatever you want in a baguette, even a burger, but that doesn’t make it a burger. The worst thing is, I think his wife was preparing it behind the scenes.
The werewolf howl
My nickname is the ‘Body Snatcher’ because I’m an aggressive body puncher. The fans gave me the name and I think it’s cool. Just like when you a chop a tree down, you chop the trunk… if you chop the body down, the head will fall.
When I get in the ring it’s war. It’s not tennis, it’s not football, it’s boxing – the other guy is trying to knock me out, so I’m going to try to knock him out first.
Before I go on my ring walk, I howl like a werewolf. It’s a mental thing – turning from a civilised person into a fighter. That’s when it’s time for ‘maximum violence’ and the animal takes over.
I come out to the Jaws theme and Back In Black by AC/DC. I love Jaws the movie – the theme tune scared me when I was younger and it still scares me now to be honest. Back In Black is one of my favourite songs. People know it and people like it, so they remember it. I want everyone to have happy memories when they watch me fight.
I can be heavyweight champion of the world
I’m working with a new coach now – Xavier Miller. Well, I say new, I’ve actually worked with Xav for about a year, as he was in the camp for my last fight.
He’s a proper student. He’s even been analysing my sparring from two years ago.
He gets me boxing five or six times a week, when I only used to box three or four times. He always says: “You’re a boxer, so boxing is what we do.”
Having to wait over 1,000 days for a title shot has been crazy. I’ve done everything the WBC has asked of me, taking dangerous fights, fights I should have lost.
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Once again, I’m having to risk my mandatory position, something I’ve worked so hard for, against Povetkin, a former world champion and Olympic gold medallist.
But I know I can win and I know I can go on to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, otherwise why would I be doing all of this?
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