Alexander Povetkin has insisted that he had a positive Covid-19 test which forced the rescheduling of his rematch with Dillian Whyte after his opponent said it was a good excuse" to not fight last November. The heavyweights are set to go toe-to-toe again at Europa Point Sports Complex in Gibraltar on Saturday in a clash dubbed the ‘Rumble on the Rock’ after the Russian defeated Whyte with a crunching blow at the start of the fifth round back in August 2020.
They had been scheduled to meet three months after the first bout but Povetkin was forced to pull out after testing positive for Covid-19 amid the global pandemic.
Whyte has explained to The Sportsman and other reporters that he believes the illness was used as an excuse, and he is ready to take on a fully-fit Povetkin at the peak of his powers.
“He’s a professional, he’s a world champion, Olympic gold medallist and he’s got money,” said Whyte. “He doesn’t need to fight. If he’s not fit and not well, he wouldn’t be taking the fight. But it’s a good excuse to say he has had the coronavirus.
“I gave him enough time to recover. I want to fight the best Povetkin I can, so I gave him time to recover. They wanted the fight on 6 March, so clearly he knew he would be ready. They would not put him at risk if they didn’t think he was ready.”
However, Povetkin has dismissed such talk and insists he has the evidence to prove he had Coronavirus and could not fight.
“With regards to Dillian Whyte, he can think and say whatever he wants,” said the Russian. “We have the paperwork, we have documents with the different analysis and results. I can send these to Matchroom. This is not for discussion.
“I don’t feel any effects of having coronavirus now. I’ve trained well and my training camp has been good.”
Whyte, meanwhile, wants to finally make the most of his long-awaited shot at a world title. Forced to wait more than 1,000 days to take on Povetkin, he had been the WBC’s main contender, but defeat cost him a fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury.
Now though, he is ready and insists the sanctioning body should reinstate him if he triumphs this weekend.
“They better f****** acknowledge my position, I’ve waited long enough,” he insisted. “The winner of this fight should be made the mandatory challenger.
“If you take into consideration how long I was ranked number one and how many top guys I beat, I should get the title shot in front of both of them. Who has [Oleksandr] Usyk beaten at heavyweight? Only Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora and now Joe Joyce.”
It’s been a challenging time for the 32-year-old but he insists defeat at the fists of Povetkin first time around is nothing compared to other obstacles life has thrown at him.
“What I have been through in life, [getting knocked out] is nothing,” he said. “There have been assassination attempts on my life, sufferings as a child, and for me this is nothing. It was one night.
“People trying to kill you, stab you and shoot you and stuff, compared to that this is nothing. There is a lot of pressure, it is performing, but it is nothing compared to what I have gone through in life.”
Whyte has had a long wait but is more ready than ever to take his chance on Saturday in Gibraltar.