Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Whyte vs Rivas: Anthony Joshua can learn from ironman Dillian Whyte
Whyte heads into Rivas clash in the form of his life - Joshua must use his old rival as an example
Last Updated: 13/07/19 8:01pm
It is ironic that Anthony Joshua could choose no better example of how to rebuild than his old mate, Dillian Whyte.
The moment Whyte truly knew that he had what it took to mix it with the heavyweight big boys was during the cold winter of four years ago, the same moment that his doubters wrote him off.
It was when Whyte was recovering from a knockout loss to Anthony Joshua, his longtime rival from the days before many people knew either of their names. Joshua ruined a Whyte Christmas in December 2015, and might have ruined a lesser man's career.
Whyte had to pick himself up from the canvas, dazed and confused as the song goes, and watch the plaudits go Joshua's way. Both were young and unbeaten prospects when they bravely put their reputations on the line so the snag was that someone would face a long climb back to the top.
But there was no guarantee that this journey was achievable.
Perhaps no heavyweight in the world has put themselves through such a ironman course over the past three-and-a-half years as Whyte and emerged intact.
He settled another grudge, with Derek Chisora, twice and most recently with a stunning knockout. He flattened Lucas Browne. He introduced Joseph Parker to the floor, which Joshua couldn't do. He has won nine in a row.
All the while he barked and screamed to state his case but the treasure trove of the division was held up, seemingly in anticipation of an undisputed title fight between Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
Suddenly Joshua lost, a result that has changed everything we thought we knew. Whyte knows how that feels.
Perhaps with Joshua's cloak of invincibility taken away, we will appreciate the remarkable evolution that Whyte has been through since his sole defeat. As he puts everything on the line once again against Oscar Rivas on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office, the south London slugger's improvement is not to be taken for granted.
Whyte has developed a left hook that he flings from the depths of hell, fitness that sees him maintain his ferociousness for the 12 round duration, and an intelligence of when to box and when to brawl. His link-up with trainer Mark Tibbs has turned him into a new man virtually unrecognisable to the one who gave Joshua a genuine test but fell short.
Can Joshua do the same, faced with the same problems as Whyte was forced to deal with?
There are, of course, differences between their respective situations - Whyte was always an underdog against Joshua, whereas the then-IBF, WBA and WBO champion was expected to defend his belts against Ruiz Jr.
But the introspection they confront is the same. Whyte must have asked himself some tough questions and Joshua will now be doing similarly.
That is why Whyte's rebuild into a contender with one of the most feared punches in the division is some feat. His journey to the top continues.
Dillian Whyte battles Oscar Rivas on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with David Allen against David Price and Derek Chisora versus Artur Szpilka on The O2 bill.