Dillian Whyte kept his chances at a 2023 rematch with Anthony Joshua alive, but just barely, scraping by a very solid Jermaine Franklin by majority decision today in London.
Scores were 115-115, 116-112, and 116-112, with the latter two cards of course both going in Whyte’s direction. Bad Left Hook unofficially had the fight 114-114.
It was a close, competitive, and scrappy bout at times. Whyte (29-3, 19 KO) never once really “took over” the fight, which it seemed in the first half was the intent, to get Franklin (21-1, 14 KO) a bit weathered and then overpower him.
Whyte worked to the body plenty to try and force that, but the American just never went away, and was going 50/50 with Dillian throughout the night. Both guys were tired late on, and both showed some signs of being hurt, with Franklin definitely hurt but surviving late in the 12th and final round.
It was a good showing for the official loser, and not terribly unexpected a showing for the official winner, either. Whyte has three losses, obviously, and has struggled in some other fights, but he did come in a clear favorite here against a guy who had been given a bit of hype a couple years ago, didn’t really impress in two Showtime bouts — though he got the wins in those — and wasn’t expected to be a serious threat here.
For Franklin, this is the best showing he’s had in his career, however you scored it or whatever the official result. Is he a threat to the true top tier? Maybe not, but he showed he can plenty handle himself at that second level of the heavyweight division, and if styles made fights, this fight got fought at a style that worked for him, and a lot of that is credit to Franklin making it that way.
“I expected a tough fight. An undefeated heavyweight is hard to beat. He’s got a lot of beans in his belly and he came in to give us a good fight,” Whyte said.
“I could have probably been a bit more active and landed a lot more big shots in the fight,” Whyte admitted, and said that working with new trainer Buddy McGirt brought new things to his approach.
As for a rematch with Anthony Joshua, Whyte said, “I’m ready for whatever, man. Right now I just want to relax.” Whyte and Joshua did shake hands after the fight, with AJ at ringside.
Whyte then thanked Franklin for a good fight.
“I felt like I got robbed,” Franklin said. “I felt like I done enough to win the decision. I just felt like I got robbed on the decision.”
“I had a seven-week camp, I did what I could. I’m down for a rematch if they’d give it to me. But like I said, I felt like I won, I felt like I got robbed on the decision. I proved a lot of people wrong.”
Eddie Hearn said that Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be announced soon, and that he may return in March, then do a Whyte rematch next summer.
Whyte vs Franklin highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Fabio Wardley TKO-3 Nathan Gorman: Big win for Wardley (15-0, 14 KO), who ate some leather early from Gorman (19-2, 13 KO) and looked like he might be tactically out of his depth. But in the second round, Wardley started landing the big shots, and Gorman just didn’t cope, going down twice and, instead of holding, trying to bomb it back to Wardley. Didn’t work, Gorman went down again with a bit over a minute left in the third, and not long after his corner threw the towel. Wardley, 27, is a tough case for Matchroom in the sense that this is a good, big win for him — he’s got the British title now — but he’s also not someone they should want to rush into higher levels from this performance. He’s a real fighter — he’s got some dog in him and he can punch — but there’s so much more he can improve, especially defensively. And yet, AGAINST WHO, AGAINST WHO, AGAINST WHO, AGAINST WHO? Because basically he’s thrashed everyone to this point. Perhaps wisest scenario is have him try to win the Lonsdale outright and maybe move to European title after, but who do you have him fight for the Lonsdale? Dave Allen and Kash Ali? Basically you have guys too high up for him who are beyond the domestic belt (Fury, AJ, Whyte, Joyce, Dubois, even Chisora), and then prospects. So we’ll see.
- Pat McCormack PTS-6 Christian Nicolas Andino: A clear win for McCormack (3-0, 2 KO), who got the ref’s card of 60-54, and easy in some respects, in that Andino (16-6-2, 2 KO) did not really have an argument in any round. But also not easy, because Andino, while not any good — and not what you’d want to call “awkward” because he’s not effectively awkward — fights with an annoying, frustrating style. He doesn’t really do anything well other than be annoying, and that comes from the fact that he doesn’t really do anything correctly, the type of guy fighters can struggle to look good against because they don’t fight with anything like a normal rhythm.
- Sandy Ryan UD-10 Anahi Esther Sanchez: A good win for Ryan (5-1, 2 KO), and while it’s cliche, it might really be true that losing her first fight with Erica Farias was the best thing for her, because she’s regrouped, improved, and come back looking like a better fighter. Sanchez (21-6, 13 KO) did land some good overhand rights now and then, but when Ryan had the distance she liked, she was able to do some really good work, and had the Argentine ex-titleholder hurt a few times. Matchroom do have the undisputed champ at 140 in Chantelle Cameron, and there are only so many more fights for Ryan to do before there are zero levels or fights left between where she is now and that type of thing.
- Cheavon Clarke TKO-2 Jose Ulrich: Ulrich (17-6, 6 KO) is a vet who has been in with good fighters, and he took another L here, getting knocked out on his feet, basically, by a second round uppercut. Ref did a good job to stop it and Clarke (4-0, 4 KO) declined to take the free shot that was available to him, showing real pro restraint. Physicians gave Ulrich a long check, but he looked to be OK before he went over to congratulate Clarke and his team and stand in for the announcement.
- Mark Dickinson PTS-6 Gideon Onyenani: Dickinson goes to 4-0 (1 KO) with a solid, competitive win over Onyenani (4-3, 0 KO), who has now lost three fights since Oct. 1 and you can expect to see as a prospect checker a bunch more, I think. He really brings a good fight, but he’s also very beatable. Ref’s score was 59-56; Onyenani struggled to win rounds, but he competed in basically all of them.