DILLIAN WHYTE secured a rematch from Anthony Joshua by the skin of his teeth after outpointing Jermaine Franklin on points.
The 34-year-old beat AJ in the amateurs but lost their 2015 British title battle and a third clash is all but assured after the London 2012 legend appeared ringside at Wembley Stadium for the win. of Whyte on Saturday.
But after Whyte drastically underperformed, and all three referees called it 115-115, 116-112 and 116-112, Joshua won’t fear his own spring comeback against his oldest foe.
Franklin, 29, arrived from the US with an impressive 21-0 record, but when she removed her top to reveal a flabby torso, ringside fans were expecting a ride for Dillian and a Sunday night trip. tomorrow to the bakery for the visitor.
But Franklin showed a smart jab, a decent left hook and all the fundamentals to pose a problem for Whyte.
Brixton’s Body Snatcher struck Franklin’s ribs in the second, but was held back more times than new manager Buddy McGirt would have been happy.
The fight was one beat and even after two rounds and the Londoner was looking more off guard than usual.
Whyte, sporting a mohawk, sweat broke out on his scalp in the third and Franklin, who worked at a home insulation factory before this big break, knew how to protect himself.
Whyte’s modest Wembley arena crowd achieved a roar in the fourth as their hero connected with his first significant combination.
But Franklin laughed off the shots and again mowed down Whyte’s guard as he struggled out of second gear.
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Whyte was warned in the fifth when his trademark body shots slid too low for the referee’s liking.
Whyte had caught or deflected most of Franklin’s shots until a right hook in the sixth round caught him flush with the chin. The Jamaican-born bruiser looked dizzy for a moment, but he regained his composure.
Franklin was superior in the eighth and AJ could be seen in the VIP seats smiling at his potential prey and pointing out his friends’ weaknesses.
By the ninth round there was booing from the disappointed crowd until a left hook from Whyte hit Franklin. But the Michigan man retaliated with a booming right hand that hurt Whyte right at the bell.
Whyte landed a powerful right hand just at the end of the tenth, but Franklin seemed to like it and yelled at his opponent’s back as he returned to his corner.
The fans were glad to see the final round finally arrive, as the atmosphere had left North Greenwich long before the last tube.
Whyte rocked Franklin in the final 40 seconds and bounced him off the ropes with another shot in the final five.
But he was too tired to capitalize and went to the judges.