David Haye warned Dillian Whyte that losing to Jermaine Franklin this weekend is “out of the question”.
‘The Body Snatcher’ will return to the ring on Saturday to take on undefeated American Franklin at the O2 Arena in his first fight since being knocked out in front of a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley in April.
A rematch against Anthony Joshua could await Whyte, should he return to winning ways in the capital after sharing an intense rivalry with the former champion that culminated in a seventh-round defeat in 2015.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has plans to turn next year’s rematch into a stadium fight, but a Whyte loss to Franklin will thwart those plans, with the Michigan fighter likely to be rewarded with his own lucrative showdown against Joshua if he upsets them makes.
Franklin has won all of his 21 professional fights and while he has notable victories over Rydell Booker and Jerry Forrest to his name, taking on Whyte is a huge step forward for the 29-year-old.
But after a poor start to the year, former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Haye insists Whyte not only needs to win, but win well.
“To get a points win over Franklin on home soil is not the performance we need to see, it’s not the performance Team Whyte needs,” said Haye. Metro.nl.
“They need a final close, an ‘I’m back’ win. They need to park the loss of Tyson Fury and prove they are ready to take on Anthony Joshua and give us the rematch we want.
“From Dillian’s point of view, yes, [defeat] is ruled out, it can’t even be something in his head. He comes into the ring with someone who has never fought at his level, not once, not even up close.”
Whyte suffered a surprise defeat in recent years. He was knocked out cold by Alexander Povetkin at Matchroom Fight Camp in 2020 after knocking the Russian out twice in the earlier rounds.
Franklin is a much less experienced threat who has not fought outside the US, but remains a dangerous unknown that Whyte should be wary of.
Dillian is by far the favourite. But it’s the unknown factor in an undefeated fighter,” Haye said.
“There is something about someone who has never lost or tasted like a professional fighter. It gives them that X factor. We don’t know what he has. His team may have been waiting for that one opponent to unleash a world-class fighter.
“There are few recognizable names on Jermaine’s record, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. It just means his handlers picked easier opponents than Dillian faced earlier in his career.
“Franklin is an unknown great, but if Dillian is the world class fighter we thought he was going to take on Tyson Fury then this should be a routine job and he should be able to look good.
“But we’ll have to see what’s left, two losses in his last three by KO, they’re taking their toll.”