Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Whyte vs Rivas: Rugged Dillian Whyte survives knockdown to out-battle Oscar Rivas
Last Updated: 21/07/19 1:41pm
Dillian Whyte recovered from a knockdown to overcome Oscar Rivas and keep his world heavyweight championship hopes alive.
Whyte climbed off the floor in a desperate ninth round but was otherwise in control as he claimed a unanimous decision at The O2 in London on Saturday night.
He becomes the interim WBC champion and the mandatory challenger to the title currently held by Deontay Wilder. That opportunity, according to the WBC, must arrive by May 2020 but Wilder is first expected to rematch Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury.
Outgunning the previously unbeaten Rivas was Whyte's 10th win in a row but provides him with his most important step towards a world title so far.
By climbing off the floor when Rivas knocked him down, Whyte was also able to avoid the type of major upset that Anthony Joshua suffered against Andy Ruiz Jr last month.
Rivas, compact and strong like a pitbull, flew out of his corner in the first round and immediately quietened the crowd by throwing heavy shots at the home favourite. One right hand flew ominously close to Whyte's head.
But Whyte then asserted himself in a barnstorming second round where he almost finished Rivas off.
A thudding straight right hand had the Colombian visitor staggering around the ring - Whyte sensed an early knockout and briefly went for broke, but Rivas survived.
Whyte's jab kept Rivas honest for the next few rounds, with both boxers forced to respect each other's power.
"Intelligent," Whyte's trainer Mark Tibbs told him.
Rivas, whose impressive amateur credentials saw him defeat Ruiz Jr and go to the 2008 Olympics, found himself unable to get inside the ramrod jab that Whyte kept dishing out. Rivas' trainer Marc Ramsay scolded him after the sixth round.
Those words put Rivas back on the front foot but Whyte walloped him with an uppercut, then a body shot. Rivas huffed and puffed and protected his midriff after that punch.
Rivas had a good eighth round which he spent picking at Whyte's body, but it was still the London man who threw the meatiest punch with another uppercut.
It was when Whyte seemed at his most comfortable that he was knocked down.
Rivas landed a big uppercut in the ninth round which sent Whyte slumping to the floor for the third time in his career (previously he hit the deck against Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker).
Whyte was forced into survival mode but his legs held firm and he heard the bell to the end of the round - when his trainer Tibbs rollicked him.
They were both hurt and tired in the 10th but they continued whipping punches and Whyte had the final say with a right hand.
Whyte's powerful jab and right-hand combo kept Rivas at bay for the final two rounds, enabling the home fighter to claim a deserved victory. He took two judges' scores of 115-112 and one of 116-111.
Watch Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas repeats on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 9am and 4pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren't a Sky TV subscriber, you can book and watch it here.