Anthony Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) unveiled his ‘New Dawn‘ style of fighting on Saturday night, clinching & jabbing his way to a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over Jermaine Franklin (21-2, 14 KOs) in a fun fight at the O2 Arena in London, England.
AJ fought like he was afraid to get countered by one of Franklin’s right hands, so he didn’t take a lot of chances by throwing combinations. It was mostly just one punch at a time by Joshua, followed by a clinch & lean.
For the fans that were expecting to see a vintage Joshua from a decade ago they were disappointed because he was nothing like the fighter that obliterated his opponents with beautiful combination punching earlier in his career.
The new Joshua fought in a safety-first manner, jabbing and clinching frequently. In some ways, Joshua fought much like WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who has developed into an ugly mauler that clinches constantly & leans on his opponents.
Joshua used his jab like a surgeon and landed a lot of nice uppercuts to the head of Franklin, which he took well. If the 29-year-old Franklin didn’t have such a great chin, he would have been knocked out many times in this fight because he took a lot of heavy punches that would have KO’d most heavyweights.
The judges’ scores were 118-111, 117-111, and 117-111.
In the later rounds, Joshua mixed in some roughhouse tactics by holding & hitting. AJ got away with some rabbit punches, hitting on the break and using a straight arm.
These are things that you didn’t see from Joshua earlier in his career, but now that he’s getting older, perhaps he feels he needs them to keep up with the competition.
Joshua looked slow & musclebound tonight, and it was obvious that he made a mistake of coming into the so heavy at a career-high of 255 lbs. The weight slowed him down, making him appear over-muscled and a plodder.
If this fight for Joshua was supposed to be a set-up for a bigger one against Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, he failed miserably because he didn’t make enough of a statement tonight to build interest in a fight against either of those guys.
It’s likely that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn will go ahead with his plans of matching him against Dillian Whyte in a stadium fight in July in London. That’s a safe fight for Joshua, and essentially a lateral move from his fight tonight against Franklin. Whyte is on the same level as Franklin at this point in his career, and no threat to besting Joshua.