On Saturday, at London’s O2 Arena, the 30-year-old produced his finest performance to secure his best win in outpointing Joseph Parker to perhaps prove he has become their leading contender.
His long-term rival Joshua next defends his IBF, WBA and WBO titles at Wembley Stadium against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin on 22 September and is scheduled to fight there again in April.
It is still hoped that the WBC champion Wilder, of America, will be his next opponent but if he is not, Whyte will be the favourite to fight Joshua again. Their promoter, Eddie Hearn, believes the rematch has become “inevitable”.
“Wilder, Joshua, if I fight them two I need to wait until April,” said Whyte, who knocked Parker down twice and also survived a dramatic knockdown in the final round that left him struggling to reach the final bell.
“Last time I tried to outbox [Joshua], but this time I’d take the fight to him, lean on his chest, rough him up a bit, and look for the punches that I believe can hurt him. I know what punches he’s vulnerable to. He’s a champ, he’s experienced; I got a win on a big show but he’s more experienced than me.
“We need a fight in the meantime because I’m still learning, there’s still things I need to work on, I need to get a bit sharper, get my weight back down a little bit, but if Joshua wants it in April, he can have it.
“[This was] one of the best nights [of my career], definitely. I fought someone very experienced; he’s a very, very tough, experienced operator. He was hungry – he fell on his face and he got up. He’d never been put down before.
“It was a good punch. I got hurt, but I showed my experience; the last time I got hurt like that I thought ‘I’m going to fight’ and then I got hit for a finish; I started doing that and thought ‘I’ll take a knee and get the count’. I was buzzed.”
New Zealander Parker, 26, was considered a threat to Joshua while he reigned as WBO champion, but having lost his title in their unification fight in March has suffered successive defeats and is faced with rebuilding his reputation.
He was unfortunate Whyte was awarded a knockdown following a clash of heads in the second round, but said: “I didn’t execute the plan my coach [Kevin Barry] put in place. I take full responsibility for that and need to work on a few things; hopefully I’ll come back and fight here again.
“Dillian roughed me up and did everything he could for victory, came in and looked for those big shots. Joshua fought a different fight, with distance, keeping me at bay with his jab.”