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Preview: Anthony Joshua vs. Jermaine Franklin

Sports Mole previews the heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin, which takes place in London on Saturday night.

After suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk and fighting just two times since the start of 2021, the aura of Anthony Joshua is most certainly not what it once was.

However, ahead of his return to action on Saturday, the same hype and anticipation remains as boxing fans wait to see if he can start a road to redemption versus Jermaine Franklin.

There is as much talk about future fights than there is regarding a showdown with the American, yet boxing aficionados appreciate that this has the potential to more than the Joshua demolition job that it is perceived to be.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at the background to the fight, which takes place at the O2 Arena in London.


Anthony Joshua at a press conference ahead of his fight with Jermaine Franklin.© Reuters

Having not tasted victory since December 2020, when he defeated Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena during the coronavirus pandemic, that winning feeling is foreign to Joshua as he starts a rebuilding phase under a new trainer.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist has waxed lyrical about the impact that Derrick James has had on him during his camp in Texas, Joshua making a point of stating that his coach has added further layers to his repertoire rather than making changes.

Joshua has acknowledged that he feels a level of pressure to show James that he has been worth his time and effort, and a motivated Joshua can only pose a bigger threat to Franklin.

The biggest obstacle could be avoiding distractions, Joshua aware that he must win and win well in order to heighten the clamour of a showdown with WBC champion Tyson Fury or a meeting with Joe Joyce.

Joshua cannot afford to look too far ahead, and the feeling is that he will not having witnessed Franklin push former foe Dillian Whyte all the way at the back end of last year.

Regardless of Franklin losing that bout, he announced himself on the world scene, acting as the catalyst for him to lose weight and add muscle. Eddie Hearn has admitted to being left surprised by the shape that Franklin has got himself in over the last four months.

That all said, it is unclear whether being lighter on the scales and possessing a physique easier on the eye will prove beneficial or detrimental to someone whose stock is on the rise.


Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk in rematch on August 20, 2022.© Reuters

Joshua has not attracted many complimentary comments from his two defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, the feeling being that he should have used his size to his advantage rather than being outgunned by one of the most technically-gifted boxers in the sport.

To Joshua's credit, his performance in the rematch was significantly better than the first outing at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Briton deemed to be winning the fight with three rounds remaining.

However, Usyk bounced back from a troubled ninth by upping the gears in the 10th, and it set the tone for him to take the rounds which ultimately led to a split-decision win.

Meanwhile, Franklin had not fought anyone of note before he stepped into the ring with Whyte in November, and there was an argument that he was a hand-picked opponent with an unbeaten record.

Instead, Franklin was clearly the better fighter in the first eight rounds, frequently picking apart Whyte who seemed caught between styles, and having two 116-112 scorecards go against him was a travesty.

Not that it made a difference to the result, Franklin did get dropped in the final round, and that is something which will encourage Joshua when he is facing a lighter opponent.


Saturday's fight will represent the eighth time that Joshua has fought at the 02 Arena, all seven of his previous outings coming before June 2016.

Five of Joshua's last eight appearances have taken place outside of England, two coming in Wales, two in Saudi Arabia and the other being in New York.

Franklin had not fought outside of the United States before his clash with Whyte, and he does not hold the experience of venues such as the 02 Arena on his CV.

Aside from that appearance at Wembley Arena, Franklin will count the experience at Broadwalk Hall in Atlantic City as his most memorable one, his win over Rydell Booker taking place on the undercard of the women's undisputed middleweight clash between Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer.


Anthony Joshua celebrates beating Kubrat Pulev on December 12, 2020© Reuters

Since losing to Andy Ruiz Jr, Joshua is viewed to be a vulnerable fighter, and it is a fair enough assessment when considering that he has lost three of his last five fights and felt the need to box cautiously versus Ruiz in the rematch.

Franklin is also full of confidence after showing his under-rated class in the Whyte defeat, the 29-year-old convinced that he did enough to win that bout.

You will not get many people disagreeing with him, yet Franklin must find a way to mix belief with caution against a bigger puncher than his most recent opponent.

This is a rare heavyweight fight where every result feels possible. There is as much chance of Joshua recording an early stoppage or winning on points as there is Franklin landing the kind of shots which will leave Joshua to throw caution to the wind or go into his shell.

For us, however, we see Joshua winning a competitive tussle on points as the most likely outcome, mixing power shots with counters to leave Franklin at length and relying on counters of his own.

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Anthony Joshua at a press conference ahead of his fight with Jermaine Franklin.
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