Dillian Whyte has been cleared to fight… by the World Boxing Council (WBC), that is.
Mixed reviews came from the news of the heavyweight contender landing on the undercard of the Dec. 7 rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua, which takes place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn confirmed months-long speculation of his next fight taking place on that show, as it was announced on Wednesday that England’s Whyte (26-1, 18KOs) will face Poland’s Mariusz Wach (35-5, 19KOs).
The move comes as Whyte is still waiting for an official decision from the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) organization, with whom the heavyweight produced a positive drug test sample collected in mid-June in relation to his July 20 win over previously unbeaten Oscar Rivas.
The test result wasn’t revealed to Whyte or his team until July 17, just three days prior to the fight and requiring him to appear before the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP), whose organization heard his case and cleared him for combat the morning of the fight.
Whyte went on to win by unanimous decision—climbing off the canvas to preserve his 10-fight win streak—but the June test result became the subject of an investigation by UKAD, with such process historically taking at least a year to conclude. The most recent victim of the drawn out process was Ryan Martin, who—one year after testing positive for a banned substance as reported by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) in his knockout loss to Josh Taylor last November in Glasgow, Scotland—was only recently notified of a four-year ban to come of the incident.
Similarly, Tyson Fury was permitted to face Wladimir Klitschko in Nov. 2015 despite having produced a positive drug test for a fight nine months prior with Christian Hammer. Fury beat Klitschko to win the heavyweight championship, only for the old test result to be leaked to the public in 2016, for which he eventually received a two-year backdated ban by UKAD in 2017. Another failed drug test—this time for cocaine—canceled plans for a rematch with Klitschko, all as part of a 31-month period where he was gone from the ring, during which time sensible boxing experts derecognized his claim to the lineal heavyweight championship.
Whyte has never fought for a full version of a major title, though the ongoing wait for UKAD to render an an official ruling has left him at the mercy of two sanctioning bodies. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) opted to drop the UK-based Jamaican heavyweight from its rankings, which meant his losing out on a potential mandatory title shot at the winner of the Ruiz-Joshua rematch.
The WBC has been more forgiving in the process, perhaps out of guilt as he’s remained the sanctioning body’s top-rated challenger for two years though has yet to receive a title shot. His win over Rivas netted him the WBC interim title, although the sanctioning body claimed to conduct its own investigation while monitoring UKAD’s progress.
Still, the decision to have him fight on the Dec. 7 show will not disrupt his place with the Mexico City-based sanctioning body, who declined official comment but did confirm to BoxingScene.com that his current ranking is not in jeopardy. The logic is that despite the delay for an official resolution from UKAD, Whyte is not officially suspended by any governing body and therefore should not be denied the right to make a living.
As it presently stands, Whyte will not be named as the WBC mandatory challenger until February 2021. The sanctioning body has approved a rematch between unbeaten defending titlist Deontay Wilder and former Fury, with the two tentatively slated to meet again on Feb. 22, 2020—nearly 15 months after their 12-round draw last December.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox