Dillian Whyte Wins Controversial Decision
Heavyweight Dillian Whyte survived a far tougher than expected challenge from Jermaine Franklin in a hard hitting and disputed majority decision win on Saturday in the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN at the OVO Arena, Wembley in London.
Whyte, the prohibitive favorite against the untested Franklin, found himself in a hard fight from the start but prevailed 116-112 on two scorecards with one judge scoring the fight 115-115. Fight Freaks Unite had it 114-114.
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“He was undefeated, he had a lot of beans in his belly, and he come in to give me a good fight and he did well for himself,” Whyte said. “His stock rose tonight.”
Whyte Still Has Options
While Whyte no longer appears to be the formidable contender he once was — he came into the fight having lost two of three by knockout — the victory sets him up for a seemingly likely rematch with former two-time unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua, who was ringside, in the first half of 2023 as Joshua seeks to return from his second loss in a row to unified heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk in August. In the fight before Joshua won his first world title, he stopped then-unbeaten Whyte in the seventh round of an all-action but one-sided bout in 2015.
Saturday’s fight also marked a successful return for Whyte from a one-sided sixth-round knockout loss to lineal and WBC champion Tyson Fury on April 23 before a record crowd of 94,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
“Great heavyweight fight and well done to Jermaine Franklin,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said. “I think Dillian Whyte had to win the championship rounds to win that fight. When I got in the ring after he asked (how I had it) and I said, ‘I think it’s very close.’ He said, ‘No, I’ve won the fight easy.’ I think he needed to win (rounds) 10, 11 and 12 and he did to edge out that fight.”
The fight was often a battle of body shots as Whyte and Franklin went downstairs throughout the fight. But it was Franklin, especially in the first half of the fight, who put his punches together better than Whyte and landed stiff jabs.
Referee John Latham warned Whyte for a low blow in the fifth round but it did not deter him from a continued body attack. But they also each landed plenty of shots to the head.
Franklin Had Success Late In Fight
Franklin really let his hands go in the eighth round, landing an uppercut among his connects. He hurt Whyte with a right hand in the ninth round, after which Whyte, working with trainer Buddy McGirt for the first time, seemed to have much more urgency.
Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs), 35, picked up the pace and had a big 10th round. He had Franklin on the ropes late in the round and landed a hard right hand at the bell.
Latham warned Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), 29, of Saginaw, Michigan, for head butting in the 11th round and Whyte finished strong in a dramatic 12th round. He landed an uppercut on Franklin in the early going and another excellent uppercut midway through the round.
Both fighters looked exhausted in the final minute, but Whyte landed a left hook that rattled Franklin and forced him to hold on and in the final seconds of the fight he nailed Franklin with another left that sent him reeling into the ropes as the fight ended.
Whyte chalked up his difficulties in part to having his first fight with new voice in his ear between rounds.
“For me it was hard because I was boxing to new instructions,” Whyte said. “I listened to Buddy. He’s a pain in my ass but what he’s saying is good. He said just keep jabbing him and breaking him down. I probably could have been a bit more active and landed more big shots. But coming from a defeat, new coach…”
According to CompuBox Whyte landed 144 of 608 punches (24 percent) and Franklin landed 165 of 606 (27 percent).
Franklin, who was in his first fight outside the United States, was viewed by many as the No. 1 American heavyweight prospect a few years ago but shaky performances and a 2½-year layoff hurt his stock. Still, it went back up again with his performance in a fight he believed he won.
“I felt like I got robbed. I felt like I did enough to win the decision,” Franklin said. “I won the earlier rounds. I just felt like I got robbed on the decision. I’m down for a rematch if they give it to me but like I said I felt like I won. I proved a lot of people wrong.”
There is not likely to be a rematch, not with a lucrative rematch for Whyte likely against Joshua.
“I’m ready for whatever,” Whyte said. “Right now I want to relax. Go home to my family, see my dogs and take it easy.”
Hearn, however, said Joshua-Whyte II is indeed in the pipeline.
“It was a great performance from Jermaine Franklin but, yes, Anthony Joshua is here. His fight date will be announced next week,” Hearn said. “I’d love it to be Dillian Whyte. He can have a rest. Maybe AJ goes first in March and we do (a Whyte fight) in the summer, but I think that’s the fight to make.”