Whyte returned to the ring to face the previously unbeaten Franklin at Wembley Arena.
Over a hard-fought twelve rounds, Whyte just about did enough to win via majority decision against a very game Franklin.
Joshua was at ringside watching on with it made clear pre-fight that the Whyte-Franklin winner would likely face the former two-time world heavyweight champion next.
Speaking post-fight, Hearn suggested that Whyte would have stopped Franklin had they fought for one more round.
"A very good performance from Jermaine Franklin, as we knew. A quality heavyweight and a tough night for Dillian Whyte. Overlooked by people that maybe hadn't heard of him, but we knew," Hearn told Matchroom Boxing.
"Speaking to everybody and Dmitry Salita and people back in Michigan, this kid [Franklin] can really fight. He's been over sparring with Tyson Fury and had some rounds with Daniel Dubois. He's a very good heavyweight. He showed that tonight.
"Dillian Whyte, with a new trainer [Buddy McGirt], tried different stuff but was actually reverting to type at the end that got him out of jail in the fight, quite frankly. To me, when you're hitting the body for seven or eight rounds, you have to switch it up to the head.
"It was when he did that, he started having some success. He hurt him badly in the tenth, he hurt him really badly in the twelfth, and one more round or one more minute, and the fight was over."
Whyte's promoter has also suggested that his rematch against Joshua is likely to happen next.
"Franklin boxed really well. He's very smart with a great boxing IQ, and he'll come again. It was a great performance. He wanted to watch Wardley-Gorman, and [Joshua], of course, wanted to watch Whyte against Franklin," said Hearn about Joshua being sat ringside.
"His next date is fast approaching, and he's looking at those guys throughout the whole fight, thinking, 'Whoever gets this, I want the winner.'
"Dillian Whyte got the winner. Whether that's in March or whether that's in June or July, I feel pretty confident that fight will take place. He's ready to go. [Joshua] is licking his lips."
The first bout between Joshua and Whyte in the professional ranks was one of the most entertaining fights of their respective careers.
There was a lot of bad blood between the pair back then, but they have more respect for one another now.
That said, it is still a huge domestic fight that would sell out any stadium in the United Kingdom.
It's a bout neither can afford to lose and the winner could potentially face Deontay Wilder later on in 2023.