Dillian Whyte has revealed Scott Westgarth’s death has made him consider his future in boxing.
The heavyweight, however, is scheduled to fight Australian Lucas Browne at London’s 02 Arena on March 24 and will not allow himself to think further about the tragedy until at least then.
Even while Whyte, 29, is hoping to earn his first world-title fight he was saddened and alarmed by Westgarth’s death, which came in the early hours of Sunday morning after the light-heavyweight fell ill following his points defeat of Dec Spellman in Doncaster on Saturday evening.
Whyte has long fought against his family’s wishes, but despite recognising the dangers involved, dismissed suggestions the sport should be banned because of the purpose it has given him and that it can also offer to others.
“I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t,” Whyte responded, when asked if he’d thought about his career since learning about what had happened to Westgarth, who was 31. “But I just try not to think about that.
“If you think about it, there are so many things that can play on your mind and affect your performance. So I just try to think, ‘I’ve accepted the fight, trained, I’m going to go in there and have a fight and try and look after myself, be the best I can be defensively and try and do as much damage as I can before it
gets done to me’.
“It’s a bit harsh saying that but that’s the reality of the sport.
“Boxing is full of stupidly and ignorantly proud fighters. Fighters don’t like to talk about stuff that makes them seem weak or make it seem like they’re scared or nervous so I’m sure a lot of boxers worry about it but they will never openly say.
“Fighters don’t want to seem like they’re scared or they’re nervous or weak but I’m sure it plays a part in everyone’s minds because we’ve all been there, we’ve all seen it.”
Whyte’s reputation has largely been built on a victory over Anthony Joshua, while both were amateurs, and on his remarkable punch resistance.
Discussing suggestions boxing should be banned, he said: “It’s nonsense. More people suffer from concussion and stuff from rugby than they do in boxing.
“Even MotoGP drivers suffer from being unconscious and other things.
“No one wants to lose a family member. But I just hope they can see from the point of view (Westgate) died doing something he enjoyed. There is no happy time to die but if I had the choice to die doing something silly or die trying to do something that is going to better my life and my family’s life and something I want to do…
“Boxing definitely saved my life. I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been shot. I wasn’t the best kid. I was running around being crazy and excited and I thought it was cool at the time.”
Whyte has also explored campaigning against knife crime, and he added: “Boxing is a great sport for any kid that is out of control or who thinks they’re a bad boy.”