Dillian Whyte won a unanimous decision against Robert Helenius in Cardiff on Saturday to move a step closer to a world title fight.
The London heavyweight overcame a troubling second round to dominate the rest of the fight, and strengthen his pre-fight position as the WBC’s No 3 contender by claiming the organisation’s ‘silver’ belt.
Whyte has been chasing a February fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder who, earlier this week, said: “I have no problems fighting that fight, as long as that contract says I have Anthony Joshua next.”
But Whyte started clumsily, falling forwards behind his own inaccurate punch and getting clocked by Helenius’ cuffing right hand.
The same lunge from the Londoner, moments later, saw him struck by a left hook and Whyte was sent stumbling worryingly back to his corner.
His recovery from that damaging round was impressive – Whyte spent the third and fourth rounds crowding his far taller and rangier rival, and bullying him into the ropes.
Helenius’ ploy to stick-and-move began to unravel in the second half of the fight. His feet slowed down and he shook his head as Whyte’s assault continued at a constant pace with body shots often scoring.
Whyte bloodied his visitor’s nose in the eighth round at which point Helenius, whose most notable win remains over Dereck Chisora, was doing little except step backwards in a failing attempt to create space.
Whyte, whose only defeat was against Anthony Joshua, desperately tried to stop Helenius in the last three rounds but had to settle for a points win. The scorecards read 119-109, 119-109, 118-111 in Whyte’s favour.