BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dillian Whyte has made another head coach change ahead of the Brixton heavyweight hitting the comeback trail at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.
The 34-year-old has not boxed since being knocked out by WBC world champion Tyson Fury in six rounds in front of 94,000 fight fans at Wembley Stadium in April.
Now Whyte looks to rebuild as he faces undefeated American Jermaine Franklin on Matchroom Boxing’s show.
The plan for the South Londoner looks set to be a lucrative rematch with Anthony Joshua in 2023. But all of that could be reduced to rubble if Franklin overturns the applecart.
Whyte has switched things up behind the scenes with New Yorker Buddy McGirt now his trainer.
McGirt, a former two-weight world champion, has replaced Xavier Miller, who had been in charge since 2020 when Mark Tibbs was jettisoned.
The question is how much Whyte can still be moulded – as well as cutting out bad habits – at an advanced stage of his career.
He insists he still has the hunger for the sport despite a career-high payday in excess of £5million for the Fury clash.
“There’s no point being in this game if you’re not motivated to get to the top,” said Whyte.
“I want to beat everyone who beat me. I want a rematch with Fury and a rematch with Joshua. I’ve already beaten the other guy [Alexander Povetkin] who beat me. That’s the goal now.
“I’m a fighter first of all but I’m learning to box and strategise. The mindset and fighting, I don’t really have to work on that department.
“Coming off a loss, it’s always a good time to re-assess and reset – to question things and try and improve a few things. At the time my team felt like this change [to McGirt] was needed.”
Franklin brings a 21-0 record, with 14 stoppages, but the Michigan fighter has not mixed at world level before.
The 29-year-old has only boxed once since October 2019 – and that was a stoppage win over journeyman Rodney Moore (20-21-2).
“It’s a good fight for me and it’s a good fight for Jermaine Franklin,” said Whyte. “We’re both hungry guys and have been around a long time. He’s looking for his opportunity – beating me gives him the golden key to the heavyweight division.
“I’m fighting to bring my career back in line. My record shows I fight dangerous guys, one after another. It is hard to take someone’s ‘0’ – guys in boxing give their arm and leg to defend that.
“Franklin has been sparring Tyson Fury and he thinks that gives him a physical or mental edge over me. He’s saying he is going to knock me out and give me a rematch – that’s something sexy to me. If you want to talk sexy to me, we can get sexy.
“A lot of people under-estimate me. They don’t think I’m as good as I am, hit as hard as I do – how fast, strong and slick I am – until they are actually in there with me. And then it is too late.
“People have underestimated me my whole life and I love that.
“I love a knockout but I’ll take any victory and worry about looking good tomorrow.”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said: “It’s a massive night for Dillian because the pressure is actually really on him – Jermaine Franklin fancies this.
“If Dillian was to lose to Franklin he’s in a really difficult position.
“I said to Jermaine Franklin: ‘If you win this fight, you’re fighting AJ and getting seven figures. You’re about to change your life’. He’s like: ‘I’m one uppercut away from changing my world forever’.
“It’s a very, very dangerous fight.”
Crystal Palace’s Craig Richards is also on the show and faces Ricards Bolotniks for the WBA International light-heavyweight title.
Richards, 32, was last in action losing a unanimous points decision to Croydon’s Joshua Buatsi in May at Greenwich’s 02.
Richards also went the distance with WBA Super world champion Dmitry Bivol in May 2021 in Manchester.
PICTURES: MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING