Whyte slams Joshua display as potential third grudge match looms

Whyte was at ringside on Saturday night to watch old nemesis Joshua make his return from consecutive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk with a dominant but somewhat laboured points win over the same opponent with whom he went the distance on his own last outing in November.

While it was crucially back to winning ways for Joshua after he had claimed he would retire if he lost again for the fourth time in six bouts, it was certainly not the explosive display that many thought he needed as he failed to secure a knockout despite beefing up to a career-heaviest weight under new trainer Derrick James.

Whyte had been widely blasted after his own performance against the durable Franklin at Wembley Arena, despite almost securing a 12th-round stoppage in that fight.

And he quickly raged against the inconsistencies in the analysis of those two bouts, insisting that Joshua has lost all of the aggression that defined his two world heavyweight title reigns as he eyes a potential rematch of their chaotic 2015 professional affair which Joshua won with a seventh-round stoppage before all hell broke loose inside the ring.

Joshua and Whyte also famously met as amateurs, with ‘AJ’ put down and suffering his first defeat on points in that contest.

“I didn’t think he looked particularly good tonight,” Whyte said on DAZN. “He seemed a bit apprehensive. Any time Franklin made a feint like he was going to hit him, he was very apprehensive.

“Obviously the right hand is still there and the boxing skills are still there, but the aggression is not there. The difference is I go the distance with Franklin and everyone says, ‘oh you’re boring’.

“Joshua goes the distance with Franklin and he gets praised for it, he showed boxing skills and this, that and the other. The difference is in the last two rounds I went after Franklin, he didn’t. He was very apprehensive in the last two rounds.

“That’s where we’re different in the fight. Win, lose or draw, I don’t care. I will have a go.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn was one of those to praise Joshua’s work against Franklin, though conceded his charge could have been more aggressive in pursuing the knockout.

All eyes now return to a potential lucrative all-British showdown with reigning WBC champion Tyson Fury, though Hearn also mentioned Whyte as a potential candidate for Joshua’s next fight along with the likes of Deontay Wilder.

“It was a good 12 rounds under Derrick James, everyone wants him to be a bit more aggressive in the fight,” Hearn said. “Franklin is a tough style for him. We knew that, took some good shots as well.

“I thought he closed the fight very well, started throwing more punches and especially combinations as well. There was a huge amount of pressure tonight, coming off those two defeats. The career is on the line.

“Everyone expects him to steamroll Franklin, he’s a good fighter. I’m pleased that he got the 12 rounds. I think people will be up for fighting him as well.

“They will think that he’s showing a few signs of weakness still. I thought he took some good shots, I thought his defence was good.

“I would like to see him be a bit more aggressive in there, but with what was on the line, very happy to be back in the summer with another big fight.”

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