Dillian Whyte produced one of the performances of his career to gain revenge on Alexander Povetkin and put himself firmly back into the world heavyweight title picture with a clinical fourth-round knockout in Gibraltar.
The Briton’s lengthy quest to earn a title shot hit the buffers after Povetkin won their first bout in Brentwood last August by catching Whyte with a bruising uppercut, despite having been put down twice prior to that fifth-round shock.
In a case of deja vu, Whyte — who now improves to 28-2-0 (19 KOs) by triumphing in the Rumble on the Rock — sent Povetkin to the floor with a crushing hook in round four.
And although the Russian tried to stumble back to his feet, the referee stopped the contest with the towel thrown in by his camp.
For 32-year-old Whyte, it was an emphatic statement and the end of a frustrating wait after this rematch was twice scuppered with Povetkin having suffered the long-term effects of coronavirus.
A dominant performance, in which the jab landed with regularity, sees Whyte become the WBC’s interim heavyweight champion.
But his sights could now turn to facing former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, while in the long-term whoever triumphs in the unification bout between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will be on his radar.
Whyte, who went through a drastic body transformation and had his sugar intake over Christmas monitored by a nutritionist,, said: “I was ready straight away.
“He’s a tough guy, I think I could have finished him early. I’m ready to run it back again that’s how I feel.
“If he wants a rematch, they offer me the right money and I’ll go again. I’m annoyed, the first time I shouldn’t have lost. I made a mistake and paid for it.
“From the first round I was on to him, then I was like let me relax, don’t blow up. I was tempted to go hell for leather the first round, then I thought it might not be the best thing to do.
“He’s only lost to me, Joshua and [Wladimir] Klitschko. Yeah, I still believe I can be world champion.
“This camp was a bit annoying because of the rescheduling, I was in much better shape than this. I had to stop-start, change up nutrition.”
Povetkin, whose record now reads 36-3-1 (25 KOs), was in trouble as early as round one, with Whyte staggering his opponent with a clubbing body shot and landing flush with a hook that left the Russian on wobbly legs.
To his credit, Povetkin steadied himself and landed with a hook of his own in the second but Whyte continued to control proceedings behind the jab and landing rights from range.
Whyte went to the floor in round three but only after losing his footing and soon clubbed Povetkin with another huge right.
That was the precursor to a barnstorming finish.
Povetkin was already in trouble from another mammoth blow and Whyte finished the job with one more huge hook, before graciously racing over to the opposite corner with a stool to help the recovery of his beaten opponent.