EXCLUSIVE: SugarHill Steward open to Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte fight

Tyson Fury Dillian Whyte

LAS VEGAS – If SugarHill Steward, the trainer of lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, had his way, “The Gypsy King” would next face three-belt titleholder Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed crown.

The WBC would permit that fight to trump Fury’s mandatory defense, but only if it is contracted in the next few days, which it won’t be since there are no talks going on between the camps and Usyk will next be facing former unified titlist Anthony Joshua, most likely in March, after Joshua invoked his contractual right to a rematch after losing a decision and the belts to Usyk on Sept. 25.

So, that leaves Fury to next face mandatory challenger and WBC interim titleholder Dillian Whyte, which is also fine by Steward.

“For me, there’s no stress. I don’t have any. That’s why I stay looking so young,” Steward joked with World Boxing News over the weekend inside the media center at the MGM Grand, where he was because he also trains former two-time WBC super middleweight world titlist Anthony Dirrell, who knocked out “Madman” Marcos Hernandez in the fourth round of an impressive performance on the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant undercard on Saturday night.

“It’s whatever they (the WBC) decide,” Steward continued in regard to Fury’s next opponent. “It doesn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t matter to Tyson. It’s who we have to fight, and if that’s who the next opponent is, that is fine with us. There’s not one particular fight where we’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we want him, we want him!’ It’s whoever is the best. You got a few guys who are at the top.”

With the 31-year-old Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) coming off an 11th-round knockout of former titlist Deontay Wilder on Oct. 9 in Las Vegas their epic third fight, and Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion, and Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), of England, headed to a rematch, Steward believes that Whyte is the next best heavyweight out there and a worthy challenger for Fury.

“Let’s have it,” Steward said. “Dillian Whyte, he’s a veteran. He’s been out there. He’s been working hard for a lot of years. For him to be at this spot is great. I’m sure he wished his (situation) moved forward faster, but he’s at the spot where he is right now, and he’s holding it down tight. I think he’s one of the top guys and should be next in line.”

Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs), 33, of England, suffered a seventh-round knockout loss to Joshua in December 2015, before AJ won a world title, and then won his next 11 fights in a row, including against Derek Chisora, Robert Helenius, former world titlist Joseph Parker, and Oscar Rivas, before suffering an upset fifth-round knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin in August 2020 in a fight Whyte otherwise dominated.

But Whyte avenged the defeat in an immediate rematch on March 27, dominating Povetkin and knocking him out in the fourth round to send him into retirement.

Whyte was then scheduled to face former Fury victim Otto Wallin on Oct. 30 at The O2 in London, but Whyte withdrew due to a shoulder injury and elected not to reschedule the fight with the prospect of a mandatory bout ahead against British countryman Fury in what would be a much bigger event than a fight with Wallin and by far the biggest payday of his career.

Steward said Fury-Whyte is a big fight for the United Kingdom and said he views Whyte as a legitimate threat.

“I haven’t seen too much of him, but I did see his two fights with Povetkin that he had,” Steward said. “He showed a lot. He got careless and got knocked out, but he came back and took care of that business. He’s a man who takes care of business. He’s man who wants to fight, loves to fight. An exciting fighter. He’s knocking someone out, or he’s getting knocked out, one way or the other. That’s excitement. And that’s exciting for boxing.

“That’s the same style we have. We knock somebody out. So that’s great – two men who can knock each other out.”

Tyson Fury SugarHill Steward
Ryan Hafey

TYSON FURY vs. WHYTE

Steward said even though Whyte appears to be the likely next opponent for Fury, he and Fury have not yet discussed the fight or any possible game plan nor has Steward undertaken the task to study any film on him in an effort to come up with a strategy.

“We don’t talk about that stuff really,” Steward said. “Honestly, and really, but nobody wants to hear it, but there’s really nothing to talk about until it’s made because you’re gonna talk about Dillian Whyte, Dillian Whyte, and then all of a sudden that doesn’t happen, and Tyson’s fighting somebody else. So, now you have to shift gears and change the page. Just keep it open and then put a stamp on it when they say it’s Dillian Whyte, and you put a stamp on it like it’s your passport.”

Whyte’s withdrawal from the fight with Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Sweden, did not come as a surprise to Steward, but he also did not say what many others did, even if they had no proof – that Whyte simply declined to go through with the Wallin fight because after it was made the WBC issued a resolution saying that the winner of Fury-Wilder III would be mandated to next face the interim titleholder – Whyte – unless a fight with Usyk for the undisputed title could be made within 30 days.

“I worked in the courts, so I don’t do hypotheticals,” said Steward, a former police officer. “I can see why people think that (about Whyte), so it’s not like it couldn’t be. But it is what it is. It’s boxing business, I guess. That’s part of boxing, the business.”

Award-winning writer Dan Rafael is the Lead Boxing Contributor for World Boxing News. Follow Dan on social media @DanRafael1.