But the experienced Russian brushed off those early blows to deliver a knockout victory in stunning circumstances.
Months later and the two will go toe-to-toe once again with a lot on the line for Whyte and expectations are high on what could happen inside the ring.
The ring walk isn’t expected to take place before 10.15pm (GMT), but there will be some interesting battles in the ring before the main event.
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Another heavyweight bout could steal the limelight as well as Fabio Wardley goes up against Eric Molina.
And the undefeated JJ Metcalf faces Ted Cheeseman for the British super-welterweight titles shortly before the main event.
Follow LIVE results throughout the night below with Express Sport