March has been a busy month in boxing, especially at heavyweight. WBC titlist Deontay Wilder removed Luis Ortiz from the title equation thanks to a thrilling 10th round TKO while, on March 31, WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua will meet WBO counterpart Joseph Parker before another large crowd in Wales. But while that quartet has garnered most of the headlines, there is activity among its ranks.
One such fight pairs Dillian Whyte (who gave Joshua one of his toughest moments in round two of their fight thanks to a counter hook) and undefeated Australian power hitter Lucas Browne, who, at age 38, must make his mark now. Although Whyte will enjoy home ring advantage at the O2 in London, Browne is no stranger to British audiences as this will be his sixth fight in the UK, where he is 5-0 with four knockouts. Will he improve that mark or will Whyte, called "The Body Snatcher" (with apologies to Mike McCallum) snatch the big Aussie as well as his "zero."
The average heavyweight throws 44.7 punches per round, but in his last four, Whyte averaged 76.3, including a robust 78.5 in his three tracked fights following the loss to Joshua in December 2015. In fact, Whyte established a new CompuBox record at heavyweight by throwing 1,112 punches in 10 rounds against David Allen, surpassing the previous record of 1,102 set by Owen Beck against George Arias in September 2003 -- a mark that was achieved over 12 rounds.
Also, Whyte grabbed the top two spots in terms of punches thrown in a round; his 141 in round three tied the record set by Adam Kownacki in round six against Rodney Hernandez in October 2015 while his 140 in round four earned Whyte the number-two ranking. Other marks he set against Allen was 526 jabs thrown in a fight (ninth all-time) and 80 jabs thrown in round four (eighth all-time). By the way, Whyte's 87 attempted jabs in round one against Kamil Sokolowski in December 2014 is third all-time at heavyweight in fights counted by CompuBox, so Whyte is no stranger to making CompuBox top-10 lists.
While Whyte blew away his early competition — his 16 pre-Joshua fights averaged 2.8 rounds — his six bouts following the Joshua loss have averaged 8.8 rounds.
Four of his last five have lasted at least ten rounds, including a pair of 12-rounders against Dereck Chisora and Robert Helenius. The Chisora bout was one of 2016's best heavyweight brawls, but Whyte separated himself with superior volume (75.9 per round to Chisora's 53.1), better jabbing (31.2 thrown/6.7 connects per round to Chisora's 18.9 and 3.2) and ability to bounce back from Chisora's huge rounds in rounds five and eight. In the end, Whyte led 295-244 overall, 80-39 jabs and 215-205 power despite being less accurate in all phases (38%-32% overall, 21%-17% jabs, 50%-40%). Against Helenius, Whyte walked down the giant Finn (who injured his right hand midway through the fight), blasted the body (115 connects, including 31 body jabs), maintained a healthier pace (53.8 per round to Helenius' 30.9), out-jabbed the taller man (24.8 thrown/7.2 connects per round to Helenius' 18.2/3.6) and recorded big statistical gaps (244-89 overall, 87-43 jabs, 157-46 power as well as 38%-24% overall, 29%-20% jabs and 45%-30% power). He'll need to do the same against Browne, who, at 6-foot-5, is an inch taller, but, at 78 inches, has a one-inch shorter reach.
Browne has the physique and attitude of a brawler, but inside the ring he fights often on the back foot and probes for openings before striking. Although Browne has scored his share of early KOs (14 of his 21 KOs have occurred in the first four rounds), he has demonstrated excellent late-round strength. Former WBA titlist Ruslan Chagaev, who floored Browne in round six, was knocked down for good in round 10 with a powerful fight cross. It was a good thing Browne scored the TKO win, for despite out-landing Chagaev 111-104 overall and 37-15 jabs to off-set Chagaev's 89-74 lead in power connects, it was the hometown Russian who was way up on all scorecards (88-82 twice, 88-81). He showed similar comeback capacity against seven-footer Julius Long, who stunned the Australian with a series of lefts in round four, one round after Browne complained of pain in the right hand.
Still, Browne dug down and out-landed Long 75-12 overall and 58-6 power in rounds 7-9, scoring a knockdown in the eighth and finishing the fight with a huge hook at the end of the ninth. For the fight, Browne led 153-72 overall, 33-24 jabs and 120-48 power as well as 44%-28% overall, 42%-24% jabs and 44%-30% power. Another strong finishing kick occurred in rounds 10-12 against Andriy Rudenko (84-47 overall, 46-14 jabs, 38-34 power), expanding his final leads to 240-180 overall and 116-47 jabs and cut Rudenko's lead in power connects to 133-124. Again, Browne was more precise in all phases (43%-25% overall, 41%-165 jabs, 45%-31% power), allowing him to compensate for his lower volume (48.7 per round to Rudenko's 60.5). Given this history -- and Whyte's ability to throw hands from first bell to last -- it's likely that Browne will have to weather another storm if he is to achieve victory.
Inside The Numbers
Whyte is nicknamed 'The Body Snatcher' and aptly so, as 33.2% of his landed punches (last 4 fights) have been to the body of opponents. He threw 22 more punches per round than the avg. heavyweight and also landed 7 jabs per round. Red flag: Opponents landed 38.5% of their power punches vs Whyte. Browne, making a huge step up in class, landed 48.1% of his power shots, while his rather non-descript opponents landed 35.6% of their power shots. So it appears we're in for a high-contact heavyweight fight.
At 29, Whyte is almost exactly nine years older than Browne, and he's fighting at home. Moreover, Browne, though he remains undefeated, has a frightening tendency to bleed. Of his five CompuBox-tracked fights between April 2014 and March 2016, Browne suffered cuts in four fights (left eyelid against Eric Martel Bahoeli from a butt; forehead, right ear and lower lip against Rudenko; left eye against Chauncey Welliver, and left eye vs. Chagaev). Those factors will be too much for Browne to overcome, and, as a result, Whyte will pound out a decisive points victory.