Tyson Fury will watch with great interest on television Saturday night when Jermaine Franklin fights Dillian Whyte.
Fury, who knocked out Whyte in the sixth round of his last fight, sparred with Franklin eight times over the past month in preparation for the WBC champion’s upcoming fight against Dereck Chisora. The undefeated Fury walked away from those sparring sessions certain that the skillful Franklin can legitimately test the 35-year-old Whyte in the hard-hitting contender’s first fight since Fury knocked him out.
Most handicappers have made Whyte at least a 12-1 favorite over Franklin, but Fury views it as a closer fight than that.
“You know, Jermaine’s a good guy,” Fury told BoxingScene.com. “Nice, respectful team around him. They come up [to Fury’s facility in Morecambe, England] and they used the gym. They helped me do some sparring and I gave him some work. It’s heavyweight boxing. Anybody can beat anybody in this game. As long as you have belief and balls, you can win. And I think he’s 21-0, 6-foot-2, 255 [pounds].
“He’s big enough to put a dent in anybody. And I think it’s a real pick ‘em fight. Obviously, Dillian Whyte’s the favorite. He’s the high-level guy. He’s a top-five heavyweight and Jermaine Franklin’s trying to crash the party. So, I’m gonna be tuning in tomorrow night to see if he can get his seat in the top five or six heavyweights in the world.”
DAZN will stream Whyte-Franklin worldwide. The streaming service’s coverage of the undercard is set to begin at 7 p.m. GMT and 2 p.m. ET.
The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Whyte (28-3, 19 KOs) isn’t as tall, fast or skilled as the 6-foot-9, 265-pound Fury, but Franklin (21-0, 14 KOs) is thankful for having sparred almost 30 rounds recently against an elite-level heavyweight.
“I’ve just been learning, soaking in everything I can and taking it one day at a time,” Franklin told BoxingScene.com. “It helped my confidence a lot, but Tyson doesn’t fight like Dillian. So, sparring him didn’t prepare me for the Dillian fight. But it was good to just get in there and learn some new stuff. You know, he gave me some tips and stuff that he seen when he fought Dillian. So, he gave me great pointers, stuff that can help me in the fight.”
Franklin feels Whyte was doing “all right” until he got caught with Fury’s right uppercut, which abruptly brought their fight to a halt in the sixth round April 23 at Wembley Stadium in London. The Saginaw, Michigan native always appreciated Fury’s skills from afar, but Franklin is more impressed now that he has had close looks at the 34-year-old legend.
“I always thought he was a good fighter,” Franklin said, “but just sparring him gave me a different enlightenment on how good he is and what type of level he’s on. The stuff that he does, that he sees or that he tries to pick up on, it just gets you in a different atmosphere of how different fighters work. Like, for a second, you think most fighters are just coming here for a knockout or just to beat on you. But sparring Tyson, he comes in there and he fights for a rhythm. And once he gets his rhythm, he starts to go for real for real.”
Not surprisingly, Franklin expects Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) to defeat Chisora (33-12, 23 KOs) soundly when they fight for the third time December 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“I don’t know if Tyson can get a knockout, but I think Tyson gets him,” Franklin said. “He might get the knockout, though. From being in camp with Tyson, Tyson is very smart. He uses his feet a lot and he has great timing. Like, he doesn’t have – I’m not saying he’s the fastest person – but he got decent hand speed for a big guy and he has great timing. Like his timing is very great. There’s no other way really I can explain that. And from what I see, Chisora’s a great puncher. He’s a warrior, but he comes forward a little bit too much, and Tyson is not the guy you should just walk in front of.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.