Repeat Or Revenge? Heavyweight Rematches Dillian Whyte Can Take Inspiration From

Five comebacks from boxing past that can inspire Dillian Whyte against Alexander Povetkin this weekend
10:00, 27 Mar 2021

On Saturday night, Dillian Whyte heads to Gibraltar in search of revenge against Alexander Povetkin in the “Rumble on the Rocks’ after suffering a shock knockout defeat to the Russian last year. 

Dillian Whyte desperately needs to win if he’s to remain a top contender in a division jam-packed with talent so below we’ve taken a look at five bouts throughout heavyweight history where a fighter has gone on to avenge a loss which ‘the Bodysnatcher’ could take inspiration from…


Lennox Lewis Vs Oliver McCall II and Hasim Rahman II, 1997 & 2001

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Lennox Lewis is one of the masters when it comes to bouncing back from defeat in style and proved that twice in his glittering career against Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman.

First, Lennox lost his WBC title to McCall in a huge upset at Wembley Stadium in 1994 when the American landed a huge right cross that stopped Lennox in six rounds. The rematch in Las Vegas three years later is considered one of the strangest fights in boxing history. McCall was handily outclassed in the first three rounds by the Briton and then refused to box in the fourth and fifth rounds. He then began crying in the ring, forcing the referee to stop the fight and award Lewis the victory and the title.

The second upset and subsequent return to glory came against Hasim Rahman. In April, 2001, fresh from filming a scene for Ocean’s Eleven, Lewis was stopped by the 20/1 underdog in South Africa after strong right hand in the fifth dropped him to the mat. In the rematch later that year, Lewis made no mistakes blitzing Rahman in just four rounds. 

Joe Louis Vs Max Schmeling II, 1938

In the first meeting between the two heavyweights in 1936, Joe Louis, then the number one contender for the heavyweight crown, was dealt a huge blow when the 10/1 underdog Max Schmeling stopped him in the 12th round, handing him his first professional defeat. Two years later, the pair would meet for a rematch that would transcend the sport of boxing. 

With tensions between the USA and the emerging Nazi superpower across the Atlantic inreasing at a terrifying rate, the second battle between the American and Schmeling, a favourite of Adolf Hitler’s, would be much more than a routine fight. 

When the bell finally rang for the rematch, this time with the heavyweight title on the line, Joe Louis blitzed Schmeling in just two minutes and four seconds, making amends for his defeat in devastating fashion. Hitler would disown his prize boxer after the embarrassing loss, but Schmeling remained great friends with Louis, with the German even helping to pay for some of the funeral costs for his old foe.


Leon Spink Vs Muhammad Ali II, 1978


In 1978, much like his opponent had done against Sonny Liston more than a decade before, Leon Spinks shocked the world when he beat Muhammad Ali, despite only having had seven professional fights.

Ali was a shadow of his former self at this point in his career but he still had one more magical night left in his career and in the rematch that same year, he was in better shape, brought improved tactics and, in truth, never looked like he’d lose, winning back his title by a unanimous fifteen-round decision and becoming the first three-time lineal heavyweight champion.

Floyd Patterson Vs Ingemar Johansson II, 1960

On June 20, 1960, Floyd Patterson became the first boxer in the sport’s history to regain the heavyweight championship, something which eight other boxers before him had tried and and failed to do.

A year earlier at the Yankee Stadium, Patterson was humiliated by Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson when he was stopped inside three rounds, being knocked down a whopping seven times. In the rematch at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan, Patterson was understandably the underdog given his previous showing but this time, despite nearly being knocked out again by a crunching right early on, he stunned the Scandinavian in the fifth round with a punch so ferocious it left Johansson in a crumple on the canvas with his leg twitching. 


Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz, 2019

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The most contemporary example of a heavyweight bouncing back from a shock defeat to win again might be a bitter pill to swallow for Dillian Whyte given it’s his bitter rival, Anthony Joshua. In 2019, late-replacement Andy Ruiz Jr stunned the world when he thoroughly outclassed the 2012 Olympic gold medallist at Madison Square Garden to capture Joshua’s heavyweight straps.

A rematch was pencilled in for December that same year and while Joshua trained with renewed vigour, Ruiz, the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent, descended into party mode. Ruiz turned up to the sequel in Diriyah overweight and unmotivated and was easily beaten by the Brit, who claimed a unanimous decision.

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