This weekend Brixton’s Dillian Whyte takes on Joseph Parker of Auckland, New Zealand in a heavyweight contest that is, according to the bookies, very close to call. At the time of writing Joseph Parker is the marginal favourite at 8/11 while Whyte stands at 11/10.
Both boxers only share one common opponent, Anthony Joshua, and both came up short against the big world champion in different ways. Whyte fought Joshua first, in December 2015 and managed to drag him into a brawl and hurt him in the early rounds, but Joshua eventually asserted himself on the fight and stopped Whyte in the 7th. On the other hand Parker, who fought Joshua more recently in July this year, took him the distance but never managed to get a foothold in the fight, allowing Joshua to cruise to a unanimous decision victory.
Whyte and Parker’s résumés are similar in terms of depth and it is arguably Parker, the former World Champion, who has really struggled when stepping up in opposition. Since winning the WBO belt against Andy Ruiz, a close fight in itself with 1 judge scoring it a draw, Parker has not looked convincing. He laboured to a decision win against unheralded Razvan Cojanu, nicked a decision against Hughie Fury which could have gone either way and barely tested himself or Joshua in his last outing. Compare that to Whyte, who since fighting Joshua appears to have gone from strength to strength. Whyte convincingly beat two solid opponents in Dave Allen and Ian Lewison, fought through and won an absolute war against Dereck Chisora and recently dispatched a very ordinary Lucas Browne with a brutal KO.
Despite this divergence in form, the bookies still have Parker as favourite and this is not surprising. After all, he is a former world champion and has probably the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. He certainly looks the part and that has translated in the bookies’ odds. However, some of Parker’s fundamentals have been found wanting when stepping up in opposition. His footwork is plodding, demonstrated in his fights against Joshua and Fury when he struggled to close the distance quickly or cut the ring off, and he has not demonstrated an ability to go up through the gears or change up his game plan if the fight isn’t going his way; he seems one paced. Whyte has the ability to take advantage of this, with good footwork, boxing fundamentals and a slight reach advantage. Whyte should be looking to box and move, staying out of range and taking advantage of Parker’s slow footwork. Whether Whyte can do this for 12 rounds is questionable. He has shown in the past he loves a scrap, and I imagine him having to come through some scares, potentially surviving a knockdown in the process, but demonstrating his undoubted toughness and winning a points victory.
With bookies unsure, the outright winner markets offer little of interest. However, the method of victory market has a bit more value, with Whyte to win by decision at 5/2 with most bookmakers taking my fancy. Add into the mix the chance he will have to fight through some scares, Dillian Whyte to be knocked down at any time is 3/1 with Betfair or Paddy Power also looks inviting. Whyte to be knocked down and win is 7/1 with Sky Bet.
Looking at the undercard, there isn’t loads of value elsewhere to be had, with lots of short odds and one sided match ups. However, the bookies seem to think Conor Benn had an off night last time out against Cedrick Peynaud, who knocked Benn down twice in the first round. Peynaud lost on the cards but many had him beating Benn and with the bookies putting a Peynaud win at 10/1, it could be worth a small punt that maybe Paynaud is better than expected and perhaps Benn not the fighter many people think he could be.