Dillian Whyte made the case for a potential rematch with Anthony Joshua in 2023 with a majority decision win over Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night.
However, the result divided opinion among boxing fans, with the American putting in a far better performance than many expected and later claiming he had been ‘robbed’ by the judges.
The fight started with both men walking to the middle of the ring and attempting to establish their jabs.
Franklin caught the eye with a series of accurate shots early on, although Whyte was unfazed.
Despite being in enemy territory, the American doesn’t seem to be intimidated on his first leg and first fight away from home.
This pattern continued into round two, although Whyte fought back with big body shots.
In the third, Whyte upped his production and found a home for some crushing blows that slowed Franklin down.
The Briton was happy to throw punches in order to close the gap and try to wear down the American.
Round five saw Franklin put in a spirited effort as he used his superior hand speed to land the most frequent punches.
Whyte responded with harder shots, but as they reached the halfway mark, it looked like Franklin had built a points lead.
Despite the Briton’s body work to try and wear down his opponent, the American continued to shoot unfazed.
Franklin briefly staggered Whyte with a huge right hand late in the ninth round as the bell came at just the right time for the 34-year-old.
As they entered the championship rounds, Whyte was looking for an advantage and once again Franklin refused to let him have anything easily.
This time it was a big right hand from the Briton that ended the round.
The American finally looked tired as he entered the final stages of a 12-round fight for the first time in his career, but continued to back down as Whyte tried to put him under pressure,
In the final round, the pair held and traded in the middle of the ring, both giving it their all in a slugfest-style session.
Whyte rocked Franklin with a massive hook in the final seconds, then the final bell rang to save the American.
When the scorecards were read, Whyte was declared the winner by majority decision with the scores 115-115, 116-112, 116-112.
“I felt like I was robbed,” Franklin said after the fight.
“I felt like I did enough to get the decision. I felt like I had won the previous rounds. I just felt like I was robbed on the decision.
Joshua watched from the ring and showed respect to Whyte, knowing full well they could lock the horns again in 2023.