Anthony Joshua's recent performance against Jermaine Franklin was not his best, but it was a step in the right direction.
Despite not displaying the same ferocity he had before his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, Joshua was able to outbox Franklin and secure a one-sided decision victory at London's O2 Arena.
It was the former unified champ's first win since 2020, which is good news, but the bad news is that he failed to score a knockout despite Franklin appearing vulnerable late in the fight. Fans were left disappointed, and questions about Joshua's abilities persist. Nonetheless, a win is a win, and this victory could lead to bigger opportunities, such as a potential shot at beltholder Tyson Fury.
“I wish I could’ve knocked him out, 100 percent,” Joshua said, “but in the next 15 years no one is going to remember that fight anyway.”
That’s true. It was forgettable.
Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) had suffered two consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk prior to this fight, causing him to lose his heavyweight titles. He needed to win and make a statement to show other contenders that he was back in the game. While Joshua's performance was not his best, he controlled the fight against Jermaine Franklin, who was shorter and lighter than him, and won by a one-sided decision at London's O2 Arena.
In the early rounds, Joshua fought cautiously but kept control by landing stiff jabs and accurate right hands to keep Franklin at bay. As the fight progressed, Joshua became more confident and assertive, throwing and landing more power shots, and wearing down his opponent. Joshua also frustrated Franklin's attempts to mount a comeback by tying him up whenever he got too close.
So Joshua had to settle for a wide decision in his first fight with respected trainer Derrick James. The official scores were 118-111, 117-111, and 117-111.
“For me, it was all about him coming out and getting the win,” James said. “Like I said, I don’t care how he won it. I just wanted him to win. After this, we’ll come back and build and build and build. …
“… Toward the end, yeah, he looked like [Franklin[ was ready to go. I told [Joshua] to pick up the pace a bit in the last couple of rounds. That comes with time. With more and more work together, he’ll more and more be able to do exactly what I need him to do.”
Could this version of Joshua be ready to take on Tyson Fury, widely regarded as the best heavyweight boxer in the world? Well, we might find out.
Joshua was asked in the ring about what might come next. He said, “I know who the fans want. Who do the fans want?” The packed crowd at O2 loudly and clearly gave him the response he expected, “Fury!.”
“The ball is in his court,” Joshua said of his rival, with whom he engaged in failed negotiations late last year. “I would be 100 percent honored to compete for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world. … If you’re listening, you know my management, you know my promoter.
“We’ve had dialogue before. Let’s continue this and hopefully, we can get this sorted out sooner rather than later. We’re not getting any younger.”
Said his promoter, Eddie Hearn: “We’re willing to entertain those conversations now, to go straight into a Tyson Fury fight in the summer. You got Dillian Whyte down there [in the arena]. You got Deontay Wilder. You got a lot of good fighters.
“I think he’s going to improve under Derrick James. There was a lot of pressure [on Saturday] and a lot of improvements to make. At the same time, he’s going to want the big fights as well.”
Only one thing is certain, according to Joshua: He’ll be back in the ring this summer. We’ll see who’s standing across from him.