Whyte is on course for a rematch with Joshua – if he can win against undefeated American Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night
Dillian Whyte faces the undefeated American Jermaine Franklin on Saturday at Wembley Arena
Dillian Whyte hauls his huge heavyweight frame into a tangerine leather seat in a private cinema in swanky Charlotte Street, espousing all his box office credentials.
‘The Bodysnatcher’ is eyeing a rematch with Anthony Joshua with promoter Eddie Hearn having dangled the carrot of stadium fight with his arch British rival in the spring of 2023.
“It will always be like Ali versus Frazier every time me and Joshua glove up against each other, and I have four names on my hit list,” Whyte tells Telegraph Sport.
Yet first Whyte must produce an emphatic fight against the undefeated American Jermaine Franklin on Saturday at Wembley Arena, having lost out to Tyson Fury, in a tilt for the World Boxing Council crown seven months ago at Wembley Stadium.
But Whyte is now back for more guts and more glory with a rugged style and mentality shaped from a traumatic, poverty-stricken childhood in Jamaica before his teenage years in south London and fatherhood aged 13.
He admits that he has only permitted himself half an eye on Joshua until he has hauled aside Franklin, his opponent from Michigan who has 14 knockouts from an undefeated 21-fight career albeit not against the calibre of a world-level contender like Whyte.
Thirty-five next year – with 31 fights and three defeats to his name – Whyte reveals his wishlist of fights before he leaves the fight arena for good and they included a predictable quartet of heavy-hitters: “Fury again, Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk and Deontay Wilder. If I have those four fights, I’ll have fought them all,” he explained, though the biggest of those right now would clearly be against Joshua.
The blockbuster rivalry has spanned from the amateurs (won by Whyte), to a heavyweight dust-up between them as rookies seven years ago, when Whyte almost stopped Joshua, before he was TKO-ed himself in the seventh round on a thrilling night in London’s docklands after an ill-tempered build-up.
There is still plenty of bad blood, and an intense rivalry, between them. Joshua is the golden boy looking for redemption himself after two defeats to Usyk and Whyte is the upstart and outsider always looking for a rumble in the heavyweight jungle.
‘To avenge a loss in my mind is bigger than any world title’
Joshua and Hearn have both said they want the winner of Saturday’s main event. “It’s not motivating to me to know that,” said Whyte.
“I’m just motivated to win. It’s heavyweight boxing man. Never plan another fight while you’re in a heavyweight fight. In heavyweight boxing, anything can happen.
“Of course I want the Joshua fight. He’s one of the three persons I’ve lost to. I’ve avenged one already [Alexander Povetkin], I definitely want to avenge the other two [Fury/Joshua].
“Joshua is an amazing fight but for me it’s about avenging the loss more than anything else man, that’s my ambition: to avenge a loss in my mind is bigger than any world title.”
Seven years on from the first professional Whyte-Joshua fight, much, he explains, has changed: “We’ve grown a lot mentally and physically and technically we’re better. But styles makes fights.
“Last time we fought I nearly finished him and I went in there with an injury. Every time if we glove up it’s going to be a war regardless, even if we lose the next 10 fights in a row, with us we put gloves on it’s going to be a war because just it’s like we have that same energy that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazer had…”
Then Whyte comes back to reality. “But I’m not focusing on that, let me tell you something, an undefeated heavyweight is one of the most difficult people to beat, because they don’t know what a loss is.
“No matter what level you think they are, but they have something deep in them and they don’t want to lose their ‘0’ and I believe Franklin will bring his best.”
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Whyte has switched trainers to the esteemed Buddy McGirt in Los Angeles, for this contest, running the beaches in Santa Monica, training alongside the stars of The Clippers and the Lakers in the gyms there. McGirt has “added a few old school tricks” to his armoury.
Franklin, meanwhile, to spice up the ante, has been in Morecambe for a month sparring with Whyte’s nemesis Fury, ahead of the WBC heavyweight champion’s much criticised match-up with Derek Chisora at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next weekend.
“I don’t care, l’m just willing to go anywhere a fight makes sense,” Whyte told Telegraph Sport.
“I just want to give the fans good fights, fight the best and then when I hang up the gloves and know I fought them all. But I need to deal with Jermaine Franklin first.”
Expect Whyte to overwhelm Franklin inside seven to rounds by stoppage, then, all thoughts will turn to that grudge rematch with Joshua in 2023.
Dillian Whyte versus Jermain Franklin is live on DAZN on Saturday November 26.