EXCLUSIVE — David Haye believes Dillian Whyte can get himself back into the heavyweight title picture, despite a comprehensive loss to Tyson Fury last time out.
Whyte ended a 1,634-day wait for his shot at the WBC crown back in April, but was soundly dispatched by Fury with a sixth-round knockout. The mandatory challenger confusingly began the fight of a lifetime as a southpaw, before switching back to his orthodox stance for the second session and failing to get into his rhythm.
That wrapped up a rollercoaster period in the career of Whyte, who post-pandemic had endured back-to-back bouts against Alexander Povetkin — one stunning KO loss followed by a superb KO win — before pulling out of a clash with Otto Wallin through injury.
‘The Body Snatcher’ makes his return to the ring at Wembley Arena on Saturday night, taking on unbeaten American Jermaine Franklin. Preparing for punditry duty with DAZN for the transatlantic tussle, former world champion Haye sees Whyte needing a “statement” victory.
In his heyday, ‘The Hayemaker’ had a huge stadium fight of his own — a defeat to the iconic Vladimir Klitschko in Germany, in a title unification. Having faced similar disappointment to Whyte, Haye told The Sporting News: “When you have a loss, you want to prove [a point] to people.
“My bounceback fight after Vladimir Klitschko was a five-round knockout of Derek Chisora, and that did eradicate any of the question marks people had. ‘Is he a spent force? Maybe he doesn’t have the punch anymore…’
“The whole idea was to do something to Derek that hadn’t happened before. He was coming off a points defeat to Vitali Klitschko, so for me to get him out in five made a statement. That’s what Dillian needs: a statement.
“Dillian needs a performance that gets your brain completely away from the lacklustre performance against Tyson Fury, where he turned southpaw. It didn’t work out. He was waiting for something to happen that didn’t happen.
“Hopefully against Jermaine Franklin, he’ll be able to show you exactly what he’s all about. Bringing in an experienced guy like Buddy McGirt can never hurt. He’s been there, seen it, done it. Having an experienced person in his corner, making slight adjustments [to his] balance, his jabs, will never hurt.
👊 The boxing public expect @DillianWhyte to put on a show against Jermaine Franklin this Saturday.
🐶 But as he told The Sporting News when looking back on his 19-KO career, that doesn’t faze him. pic.twitter.com/5EZdIj05KI
— Sporting News Boxing (@sn_fights) November 23, 2022
“I’m expecting Franklin to come out fresh; he’s got that undefeated bounce about him, that swagger. That can be punched out of you real quick, if the other guy’s better than you. Plain and simple. Dillian’s beaten better opposition than Franklin by a long, long way.”
Unlike Whyte, Haye had already climbed to the top of the mountain and secured world honours to write his name in the history books. Many believe that chance will never come around again for the 34-year-old, but Haye is not so sure.
In fact, the ex-cruiserweight believes Whyte can get there by defeating Anthony Joshua, who is currently looking for a bounceback of his own following successive defeats to the genius Oleksandr Usyk.
A protracted set of negotiations with Fury yet again faltered this autumn, leaving Joshua without an opponent for the rest of 2022. Eddie Hearn is now looking to get the two-time unified king back in the ring in the spring, with the winner of Whyte vs. Franklin a likely opponent.
Whyte defeated Joshua on points as an amateur in 2009, but the Olympic champion enjoyed his revenge six years later in the pros, winning via KO at The O2 Arena. The stars of Watford and Brixton were both undefeated heading into that one, and now both have three losses on their records.
Haye continued: “If Derek Chisora can get a world title fight [against Fury in December], why couldn’t Dillian? As long as he wins this next fight, he’ll get a shot at AJ.
“If he can defeat AJ, obviously he’ll have to have a rematch, but if he wins the rematch, he’s the guy up there to be challenging for world titles. He’s very experienced, he knows the game inside and out.
“If Whyte comes out and batters Franklin, slips every punch, completely dominates and looks like the best version of Dillian Whyte… put that up against the two performances AJ had with Usyk, and damn, Dillian Whyte’s got a hell of a chance.
“In the first fight, he managed to hurt him, and he apparently only had one arm in that fight. Now he’s got two arms, and he’s on a nice winning streak of one, and AJ mentally might be on a low, coming off two defeats. It makes it more interesting.
“This isn’t Dillian getting in the ring with an undefeated Anthony Joshua. This isn’t that guy. This is someone who lost to [Andy] Ruiz Jr. by knockout, who lost back-to-back to a former cruiserweight champion.
“Stylistically, the fight works beautifully. It’ll be action-packed. Both fighters are tall, both got good chins, both got big hearts, there’s a history, they don’t like each other. It’s got all the ingredients for a megafight — the numbers would be great.”