David Haye says he was disappointed with Dillian Whyte’s display against Tyson Fury in April but believes people should not be writing him off just yet.
Whyte makes his return to the ring on Saturday at Wembley Arena when he faces unbeaten American Jermaine Franklin, as he seemingly moves towards a fight with old rival Anthony Joshua next year.
But Haye, the former WBA heavyweight champion who will be part of the DAZN commentary team at Wembley, believes that Whyte, 34, still has plenty left.
“I definitely feel that wasn’t the best of Dillian. He definitely has more in the tank performance wise than he showed on that night,” Haye said.
“That fight wouldn’t have taken much out of him. It wasn’t like he had the type of toe-to-toe slugfest that he had with Derek Chisora for instance. A fight like that, takes years off you, it really does take a chunk out of your soul.
“This wasn’t one of those fights. He wasn’t that banged up, he just got hit by one uppercut.”
Haye said he was mystified by Whyte’s tactics that night, including at one point when he went southpaw.
“He didn’t really attack Fury in the way we thought he was going to,” Haye said. “He tried to make it a little too tactical, switching to southpaw in that first round. It might have confused Fury for a little while, but it appeared to me that he gave Fury a nice easy warm-up into the fight. That was the wrong tactic.
“But he made his decision, he went with it, and he got taken out with a right uppercut. I definitely think coming into this fight against Franklin, he’s going to want to make a statement.”
Haye says Franklin could be anything, although a win for Whyte would propel him back into elite class, especially if Whyte improves for his switch of trainers to Buddy McGirt.
“He’s picked himself an unbeaten, unknown quantity,” Haye said. “On paper, he looks great, 21-0, a big American, looks the part, sounds the part.
“But is the guy going to step up to the plate and if he does, is Dillian Whyte back to the Joseph Parker performance or when he lost to Anthony Joshua? That was a great performance.
“I’ve worked with Buddy McGirt, he likes to break it down, he likes to keep it simple, let the punching do the talking. This is an opportunity for Dillian to really set the world on fire at a time when the heavyweight division is really up in the air.
“Is [Oleksandr] Usyk going to lose one of his titles? Are the belts going to get fragmented? If you can get yourself in a position to be high up in all the rankings, then anything is possible.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.