It wasn’t convincing, but Dillian Whyte got the job done.
The longtime heavyweight contender defeated relative unknown, but determined American Jermaine Franklin by a majority decision in a competitive fight Saturday at OVO Arena in London.
The victory could set up a rematch with Anthony Joshua, who was at ringside and reportedly has been receptive to Whyte’s wish to fight him next year.
Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) had lost two of his previous three fights, including a sixth-round knockout against titleholder Tyson Fury in April.
Still, Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) wasn’t given much of a chance against a veteran of so many big-time events. Then the fight started.
Neither man was able to gain a clear advantage in a grueling, back-and-forth fight, although two judges evidently were convinced that Whyte had outworked his stubborn opponent.
The 35-year-old Londoner won 116-112 — eight rounds to four — on two scorecards. The third judge scored it 115-115.
Some believe that the cards favoring Whyte were too wide, including Franklin, who thought he deserved the victory.
“I felt like I got robbed, I felt like I did enough to get the decision,” he said, according to The Mirror. “I felt like I won the earlier rounds. I just felt like I got robbed on the decision.”
Nevertheless, it’s Whyte who had his hand raised and took a step toward a bigger fight.
Whyte was stopped by Joshua in seven rounds back in 2015, before Joshua became a world titleholder. He would like to avenge that setback. More important, a victory over Joshua would make him a candidate to fight for a title one more time.