Joshua vs. Franklin = excellent comeback fight for AJ

02/06/2023 - By Will Arons - Comments

Anthony Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn have picked out an excellent comeback fight against Jermaine Franklin on April 1st at the O2 Arena in London.

After Joshua’s back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, choosing Franklin is a perfectly suitable comeback opponent.

You can’t expect Joshua to take on a top 5 level heavyweight after those two mentally crushing defeats against Usyk.

It would have been criminal for Hearn to throw Joshua in with one of the elite contenders for his April 1st because it would have been a foolish gamble, and AJ has already taken too many gambles in the last four years. The first came against Andy Ruiz Jr in the rematch, and the second against Usyk.

What’s surprising is that many British boxing fans hate Joshua’s choice of opponent, as they prefer that he face Dillian Whyte next on April 1st rather than Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs). It’s hard to understand, given how Franklin clearly got the better of Whyte and was robbed last November.

Hearn says that if Joshua defeats Franklin, he’s not got a lot of options available to him for his next fight in July. Besides a rematch with Whyte, Hearn said Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, and Filip Hrgovic are fighters he’ll be looking at to match against Joshua in the summer.

Worldwide boxing fans would prefer to see Joshua fight Wilder or Fury rather than a rematch against the faded Whyte, who is arguably fighting at the level of a poor man’s version of Derek Chisora at this stage of his career.

Joshua has plateaued

They either didn’t see the Whyte-Franklin fight from last November, or they don’t care that Franklin was unquestionably given a raw deal by the judges for their fight at the Wembley Arena.

“He’s lost the spark since the Klitschko fight,” said Billy Nelson to iFL TV about Anthony Joshua. “He was electric when he was beating these guys, but since Klitschko, you can plainly see the deterioration.

“I think he’s plateaued and is on his way down now. I think in the first Usyk fight, he was very apprehensive, and he was even more apprehensive in the second fight,” continued Nelson about Joshua. “There’s got to be concerns there.

“I think he’s put some pressure on himself as well because he did an interview after the Franklin fight and said that Dillian Whyte should have knocked him out. If he doesn’t knock him out, then why should others knock him out if he can’t?

“Anthony Joshua can knock out any man on the planet. He’s very, very powerful, but it’s all about whether he can take it back now. That’s my concern.

“After he beats Franklin, he’ll fight Dillian Whyte next in the summer,” Nelson said about Joshua. “He should beat Whyte no problem as well. I believe he’ll possibly fight Fury at the end of the year.

“Will he [Joshua] win another world title? I think it’s unlikely he’ll win another world title, and I’ll tell you why. There are a lot of young guns out there now. The Hrgovics, your [Jared] Andersons, Martin Bakole, Joe Joyce. I think these guys will have too much youthfulness about them [that will enable them] to beat Anthony Joshua. Too much desire.

“Anthony has done fantastically well in boxing, but is the hunger still there? We’ll see. Of course, he’s expressed that. We’ve expressed that we’d like to win a world title, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.

“There’s a huge gap between the British level and world title level.  Huge. There really is. Massive gap. From British level to world level, you could be talking two years, two and a half years bridging that gap,” said Nelson.

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