Boxing & MMA

‘Joshua vs. Whyte 2 would prove nothing for AJ’ – Salita calls for Franklin rematch

EXCLUSIVE — Dmitry Salita, promoter for Jermaine Franklin, believes his man defeated Dillian Whyte in London last month, meaning Anthony Joshua should not be looking at a fight with ‘The Body Snatcher’. 

Against Franklin, Whyte made his return to the ring following his demoralising loss to Tyson Fury back in April, which saw his incredibly long journey to a world title shot end with a whimper, as the reigning WBC champion cruised to victory with a round-six knockout. 

The then-unbeaten American was widely seen as the perfect way to regain some confidence — a relatively straightforward night’s work for a boxer of Whyte’s calibre and a tune-up for a mega-money showdown with old foe Joshua in 2023. 

However, Franklin shocked the boxing public with an impressive display throughout, seemingly winning enough rounds to have his hand held up at Wembley Arena, with Franklin absorbing whatever Whyte had to offer. The Brixton man looked lethargic and often appeared to be boxing against his instincts under new trainer Buddy McGirt. 

On yet another questionable set of scorecards in the UK, though, the home fighter emerged with a majority decision (115-115, 116-112, 116-112) victory. Whyte claimed in the immediate aftermath that he “won clearly” and those calling for a rematch were “talking sh*t”. 

Former welterweight Salita told The Sporting News he had a somewhat differing viewpoint.

“Looking at it now, I feel even more that [Franklin] won,” he said. “There are unwritten rules that sometimes when you travel to a different country, the hometown of the star, you get a bad decision. Certainly, we saw that in that fight. Interestingly, the British judge had it a draw — most accurate. 

MORE: The Sporting News’ pound-for-pound rankings

“Jermaine showed he is one of the elite heavyweights in the division, probably the second or third-best heavyweight in the United States. Deontay Wilder [is top], then I think it’s between him and Jared Anderson as the next best guy. 

“Dillian Whyte is maybe the fifth or sixth-best heavyweight in the world, and Jermaine really beat him. For the 12/1 underdog to showcase that is really incredible. He did a great job. I’m able to find the right talent and develop them to this stage, the elite level of boxing.” 

The attention for Whyte has now turned to a rematch, but with dethroned divisional king Joshua rather than Franklin.

The two Brits, from opposite sides of the capital, last fought in 2015, with Joshua producing a round-seven KO. It followed a long-running rivalry, which had previously seen Whyte claim a victory in the amateurs. 

Both men are promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and fight on DAZN, while there is more than enough interest in the UK to command a lucrative stadium show next summer. The fight would be a relatively easy one to make, after a year dominated by protracted Fury vs. Joshua negotiations that ultimately failed. 

Salita, though, believes that fight would be a mistake, given the apparent gulf in quality between the pair. The Ukrainian-American, who also manages multi-weight superstar Claressa Shields, continued: “When I make fights, I always look at how I would feel as a boxing fan. 

“Eddie has been dropping a lot of big names for Anthony Joshua — Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. So if he’s serious about returning to the top of the division, that’ll be determined by the type of guy that he fights. Dillian Whyte just struggled with Jermaine Franklin, and didn’t really win a very close fight, and he got knocked out by Tyson Fury and Alexander Povetkin. 

“So what does that prove for Anthony Joshua, who wants to be an elite guy, to fight somebody like that? These are two big names, but there’s little athletic substance to showcase himself as the top guy in the division. 

“I was [pushing for the Franklin rematch]. It’s the best fight for both guys. Dillian felt that he won, then two days later started to make a bunch of excuses, that he was sick, had a torn bicep, chest pains, all kinds of stuff. So he admitted he had a sub-par performance.” 

MORE: Joshua left out in the cold as Fury plans blockbuster 2023

On the potential of Franklin taking on Joshua himself — which was a carrot dangled by Hearn in the build-up to the Whyte fight — Salita revealed there were some initial talks, which have since evaporated. 

He said: “Jermaine was very focussed on the task ahead of him. Jermaine knew winning against Dillian Whyte was going to put him in a different level. This was his first 12-round fight, too, which is quite incredible. 

“After the fight, Eddie said that he would still consider Jermaine for AJ. We’ve had some conversations, but I haven’t heard anything of significance in a long time. I understand AJ is now in the United States looking for a trainer, so I understand that may slow things down.” 

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