Tag Archives: Dillian Whyte

Isaac Chamberlain – from Brixton to the big time?

“Growing up in Brixton was hard. You had to be tough or you would get walked over.”

When boxer Isaac Chamberlain talks about his upbringing, there is menace in his words. After all, Chamberlain is a born fighter.

The 22-year-old cruiserweight is emerging as one of Britain’s brightest young talents in the ring, with his unpredictability, burning desire to succeed and raw emotion making him a growing favourite amongst fans.

But these characteristics were developed on the troubled streets of south London.

“I never had any big brothers, so I had to fight nearly every day so that people would leave me alone,” he recalls. “From a young age, I grew up fighting in school and on the streets. Boxing gave me a way out of all that.”

Not calling it quits 

His most recent fight, at the end of September at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, provides a good snapshot of the man known to his fans as ‘Chambo’.

Chamberlain celebrates beating Camacho

His sixth professional bout was against Wadi Camacho, a 31-year-old from Canning Town, who in the pre-fight trash talk had promised to bury his opponent.

Chamberlain was already on the backfoot even before his right shoulder went, and from that point he struggled and could barely raise his arm as Camacho took advantage.

But somehow he overcame the injury and fought back to win his biggest title so far, the Southern Area Championship. He hopes this is just the start of things to come.

“The victory felt good, but I want more than this,” admits Chamberlain.

“I knew I could do it because I’d thought of it a million times in my head. It made me hungry for more success and glory.”

Sparring with Wilder 

In his short career so far, the cruiserweight has trained and sparred with some of the biggest names around.

But Chamberlain says it was a month in Alabama with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder ahead of his 2015 pro debut that was most instructive.

Chamberlain training with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in 2015

“I learnt how a champion prepares and trains,” he says.

“The team he has around him is incredible. To have a champion and win fights is a team effort as they are all working hard to help the contender win the title. It was like a tight-knit family.”

‘Straight Outta Brixton’ 

Chamberlain, also nicknamed ‘The King’, starred in Sky Sports’ documentary ‘Straight Outta Brixton’ which focused on his troubled childhood and how boxing transformed his life.

He said he was keen to show how his upbringing had changed his attitude.

“Going back to my roots showed how far I have come,” he adds.

“I’ve always been the type to look forward, never back. My upbringing and journey showed the perseverance I had when I was growing up and how tough I must have been.”

Support 

Under the guidance of his uncle and trainer Ted Bambi, Chamberlain has flourished.

Training alongside heavyweights such as Dillian Whyte at Miguel’s Gym in Brixton, he has received expert advice to keep him on the right track. Despite his tough training regime, Chamberlain says Bambi has been crucial to his development.

“I learnt the meaning of hard work with Ted,” he says.

Chamberlain with his uncle and trainer Ted Bambi

“He pushes me to the limit nearly every training session but also teaches me a lot about the business and life itself.

He’s so hard on me because he doesn’t want me to make the same mistakes he did.”

Chamberlain also says that being around a character like Whyte every day means there is never a dull moment.

“Dillian is a crazy guy but also fun to be around. We used to take the bus home from training together and he would always say he was going to fight Anthony Joshua again after their amateur bout early on in their careers. And he did.”

‘No easy fights’

Signed to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable, so far Chamberlain has a record of six wins and no defeats.

He says his manager has been an important figure in his professional development.

“Eddie has influenced my career a lot,” he says. “My career’s been different from other boxers because I’ve never had any easy fights and my record shows that.

“When I’m a champion, I’ll know what it’s like to go deep in a fight and take someone’s heart in the ring. I’ve been through the hard fights before, so I know what it takes to dig in.”

Ambitions 

An admirer of former three-weight world champion James Toney, Chamberlain has set his sights high, and the likeable character is not only hoping to reach the top in his profession but also inspire youngsters to follow in his footsteps.

“I want to make my mark in boxing like the old school fighters such as James Toney. I hope to show my the sheer guts and grit to match my skills”

“My advice to anyone facing hardship in life is never give up, no matter how hard it gets,” he insists.

“There will be low times, but it will all pay off. I hope to continue to provide support and the right advice whenever I speak at my local youth club.

“I’d love to fight for the WBC world title at some point in my career. Hopefully, I can become a future Hall of Famer but that’s only once I have defeated some of the top names and unified the division and ensured that I am the best UK cruiserweight to have ever stepped in a ring.

“I want to make my mark in boxing like the old school fighters such as James Toney. I hope to show my the sheer guts and grit to match my skills.”

Joshua on course for great things

We’ve known for some time that Anthony Joshua has got what it takes to become Britain’s new heavyweight boxing hero.

A world champion in the making, the Olympic gold medallist has made a smooth switch to the professional ranks, winning all 14 of his fights. But how would he fare against a man who beat him in the amateur ranks, Dillian Whyte?

I was among the the 20,000 capacity crowd gathered at London’s O2 Arena to find out as Joshua’s acrimonious clash with Whyte – also unbeaten in 16 fights as a pro – for the British and Commonwealth titles topped the bill.

It’s an understatement to say there’s no love lost between the pair, but could Watford’s Joshua had remain calm and composed in the build-up as he sought to avenge that early defeat against his Jamaican-born opponent.

Aggressor

After an evening of good bouts on the undercard, the atmosphere as the main event arrived was something like I had never witnessed – the buzz and sense of anticipation was huge.

“The ugly scenes caused a huge commotion in the packed venue, super-charging the already-electric atmosphere”

Joshua made his entrance to the ring to the backing of music from UK grime act Stormzy,  the title of his song ‘Shut Up’ acting as a repost to Whyte’s trash talk in the run-up to their meeting.

The first round started evenly. Whyte was aiming to be the aggressor with unpredictable round-house hits but he wasn’t a match for Joshua’s defensive skills and quickly became frustrated.

The bell sounded but a late punch by Joshua caused Whyte to retaliate while he was being held back by the referee, and this lead to both of the boxers’ entourages and security to invading the ring.

The ugly scenes caused a huge commotion in the packed venue, super-charging the already-electric atmosphere. The incident was also perhaps the cause of Joshua’s most tricky moment at the start of the second round.

Unfamiliar territory

As it began, he continued to taunt Whyte and paid the price as he was caught by a huge left hook. But although the 26-year-old was clearly hurt, Whyte was unable capitalise on his breakthrough.

“When Whyte offered to touch gloves as a sign of respect at the beginning of the seventh round, it seemed to be a sign of imminent defeat”

Although written off as a contender by many pundits and experts, it was clear by the end of the third round that Whyte had earned the full respect of Joshua who now found himself in the unfamiliar territory of an even-looking contest.

In the fourth, Joshua gained the initiative as backed Whyte up and created space with his quick, direct jabs which got the crowd going, only for his rival to counter attack with an impressive swing. Whyte was able to land some grazing hits of his own but his recovery wasn’t enough to upset Joshua’s gathering momentum.

It looked as if Whyte was starting to tire – he was taking in huge gulps of air by the end of the sixth round – and when he offered to touch gloves as a sign of respect for Joshua’s performance at the beginning of the seventh round, it seemed to be a sign of imminent defeat.

Retreat

Whyte, however, was still carving out opportunities and managed to land a shot to Joshua’s temple, but by this stage it was clear for all to see that his classy rival was not to be denied for much longer. 

Whyte had to retreat to the ropes several times until the point he was finally caught flush by an huge uppercut that looked to have finished him off, triggering a massive roar from the crowd.

“I give Whyte credit for landing some good shots which tested Joshua’s resilience, but he didn’t have enough to dominate an opponent who is destined for great things”

The 27-year-old gamely fought on but it was effectively all over as another big Joshua blow sent him to the canvas, delivering the victory, the belts and revenge.

Looking back, it was clear that Whyte’s plan had been to pile on the pressure in the first round, but even at that point the flaws in his gameplan – and Joshua’s superior fitness and conditioning – were obvious.

I give Whyte credit for landing some good shots which tested Anthony’s resilience, but he didn’t have enough to dominate an opponent who is destined for great things. He will surely fight for a version of the world heavyweight championship within the next 18 months.

Review – The Gloves Are Off – Joshua v Whyte

On the 12th December, Anthony Joshua faces the toughest challenge in his professional career to date at London’s O2 Arena.

His perfect record of 14 knockouts in 14 bouts will be tested as he fights nemesis Dillian Whyte for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

“The big difference was that when Nelson put questions to him, Joshua remained calm and composed”

Whyte defeated Joshua at amateur level. Since then, however, Joshua has won an Olympic gold medal, become a household name and is widely regarded as a future heavyweight champion of the world.

Whyte, on the other hand, despite an impressive record of 16 wins, 13 knock outs and zero losses, has largely gone under the radar.

And so, as the fight nears, Joshua and Whyte – as is now apparently a protocol for major fights – joined Johnny Nelson for Sky Sports’ The Gloves Are Off.

What was clear as these two bitter rivals sat opposite each other across a table, with Nelson acting as referee, is that they really don’t like each other.

Whyte actually said “I don’t like him” while Joshua sat, arms folded, staring at Whyte with a face so expressionless you could’ve mistaken him for a waxwork.

The big difference was that when Nelson put questions to him, Joshua remained calm and composed, as if he was used to these pressure-filled scenarios.

Agitated

Whyte, on the other hand, often looked out of place and seemed agitated by Nelson’s questioning. Joshua must surely have been licking his lips at the idea of getting under his skin and already winning the mental battle.

Anytime Whyte dangled a line for Joshua to bite on, the Watford boxer wasn’t having any of it. But whenever Joshua went on the attack, Whyte reacted.

“All Whyte could do was scan the table for a reason – it was as was as empty as his mind”

Whyte kept looking for any opportunity to irritate Joshua and get inside his head, but Joshua simply didn’t rise to it.

Bizarrely, on several occasions, Whyte offered Joshua out for a street fight. Even the ever-implaccable Nelson was visibly confused by his antics.

Nelson raised the issue of jealousy early in the programme. Whyte has previously beaten Joshua and is also undefeated. Yet Joshua is the poster boy of British boxing.

Whyte, unsurprisingly, denied any such feelings. “I’m not jealous, because I’m providing for my children,” he said.

He then accused his rival of being “fake”, humorously bringing up a time when Joshua borrowed his trousers for a night out.

Whyte continued to be riled throughout. “I’m composed, I’m composed, I’ll deal with you in a composed manner,” he said,  ironically in a far from “composed” tone.

Chastising

When asked by Nelson what made Joshua “fake”, Whyte replied: “I don’t need to explain anything.”

Nelson pressed for an answer but all Whyte could do was scan the table for a reason – it was as was as empty as his mind.

“Joshua clearly feels Whyte will simply be another one of his victims”

Deadpan Joshua responded with a smirk and a comment: “Who’s Dillian to me… nobody.”

Whyte let himself down again by demanding a street brawl, which seemed to annoy Nelson more than Joshua. “Street fighting and boxing are two completely different games,” he said, almost chastising Whyte.

As their TV bout entered its final rounds, a crucial moment occurred. Whyte stated that if he were to go down he would do so fighting. Joshua wouldn’t even allow the “if” factor to enter his head.

That is where the viewer was reminded that this is Joshua’s fight to lose, and that perhaps simply lasting 10 rounds will be an achievement for Whyte. You got the impression Whyte knew that too.

Stepping-stone

Joshua said the only fighters he’s worried about are those with a championship belt. On Whyte, he added: “He’s fat, he doesn’t train hard enough.”

He clearly feels Whyte will simply be another one of his victims, a stepping-stone to greater things.

Nelson then asked Whyte to give Joshua a little bit of credit. Whyte then seemed to turn his anger towards Nelson himself, as if he was his upcoming opponent.

The body language of Nelson, a former cruiserweight world champion, in his chair was telling. Putting his weight on his right shoulder in order to face Whyte, it looked as though both he and Joshua were up against him.

As the programme drew to a close, Nelson asked for the obligatory handshake. He knew what was coming next. We all did. Whyte refused, and Nelson jokingly asked for security to keep their eye on the two on their way out.

Whyte just had time for one more “Come on, lets go outside”. Maybe that would be the best place for him. No Sky Sports cameras to record his humiliation, but there will be when Joshua surely knocks him out on December 12th.

Feature image courtesy of Sky Sports. Joshua v Whyte is a pay-per-view event on Sky Sports Box Office.