How Dillian Whyte’s split from Mark Tibbs cost him in Alexander Povetkin fight

4 min (Ollie Salt)

Dillian Whyte splitting from long-term trainer Mark Tibbs played a part in his crushing defeat against Alexander Povetkin last month, former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson has claimed.

Whyte was knocked out cold on the closing evening of Matchroom’s Fight Camp series, falling at the final hurdle after being guaranteed a shot at the WBC heavyweight title in his next bout.


Despite Povetkin’s vast experience, the Brixton man was expected to emerge unscathed and set up a clash with either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder next year, yet after claiming two early knockdowns he was soon wiped out by a sensational fifth-round uppercut.

It marked a disastrous start to life without Tibbs in his corner, having parted company with the British trainer just six weeks before the bout. They had worked together for the last four years.

How Dillian Whyte’s split from Mark Tibbs cost him in Alexander Povetkin fight
Dillian Whyte was knocked out cold by Alexander Povetkin last month

Whyte cited his preference to train out in Portugal as the reason for their split – something Tibbs could not commit to on a regular basis – and in came a new head coach in Xavier Miller.

Dave Coldwell, the renowned trainer who guided Tony Bellew to cruiserweight glory, was also added to his coaching team.

Yet Nelson believes Whyte would have fared better against Povetkin with Tibbs in his corner.

“To my knowledge, Mark Tibbs has a family and has his own gym to run. So if he’s going to spend three months out in Portugal training Dillian, that means everything else suffers,” the Sky Sports pundit told Daily Star Sport.

The Brixton man decided to call time on his four-year spell with trainer Mark Tibbs just six weeks before the bout

“If you love your sport, you’ve got to make sacrifices. But he could have been thinking, ‘Do you know what, I can’t sacrifice all this time.’


“That’s how I understand it, that’s how I read it. But would [Tibbs being there] have made a difference? Yes.

“I think that’s why Dave Coldwell was brought in as a second pair of eyes for the chief cornerman, because the chief cornerman obviously wasn’t confident enough to navigate Dillian through such a high-stakes fight.

But Sky Sports pundit and former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson believes he would have fared better with Tibbs in his corner

“So again, I think Dillian’s the kind of guy that will fight anyone anywhere, but you need a strategy from your corner. Someone telling you when to back off, someone telling you when to step it on.

“That’s the difference I think Mark Tibbs would have made.”

Whyte has the chance to avenge his second professional defeat in what promises to be a career-defining rematch with Povetkin on November 21.

Whyte has the chance to avenge the defeat in a rematch with Povetkin on November 21

A second defeat will send him tumbling down the heavyweight pecking order, moving a long-awaited world-title shot even further from his grasp.


Should Povetkin reign supreme again in two months’ time, Nelson feels Whyte will have no choice but to rebuild his career against up-and-coming domestic talents such as Daniel Dubois.

“It’ll be a massive setback because he’ll be thinking he’s the unluckiest guy in the world,” he said.

Victory will move him back in line for a shot at Tyson Fury's WBC heavyweight title
Victory will move him back in line for a shot at Tyson Fury’s WBC heavyweight title

“All the waiting he’s done and now he’s finally got his shot it’s slipped away from him.

“He’s been gambling all the way through and he’s been winning the gamble. But you’ve got to lose sometimes, and that was the gamble. It was risk vs reward and the reward was working out for him massively.

“But say he does lose, then he’s in the ‘who needs him’ place. Tyson Fury won’t fight him, Deontay Wilder won’t fight him, Anthony Joshua won’t fight him. So therefore he’s got to reestablish himself.

But Nelson insists another defeat will send him tumbling down the heavyweight pecking order

“You’ve got the likes of Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, the young guns coming through, so there are still some big paydays out there domestically.”


Having been left surprised by his upbeat demeanour after the Povetkin humbling, though, Nelson fully expects Whyte to take his shot at redemption.

“When I went in the dressing room afterwards, Dillian was probably the most understanding about everything that had happened,” he added.

He believes the 32-year-old may have to entertain a bout with young-gun Daniel Dubois in the event of another defeat

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“It was like someone had died in there. But he was like, ‘Do you know what, I’ve made a mistake.’

“The week after, he flew back out to Portugal by himself and said, ‘I’m back on it again. I don’t care. It’s made me even more hungry because I know that I’m world class.’

“I reckon Dillian will stop him late on in the rematch, because I think he’ll be a little smarter in regards to how he goes about it this time.”

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