Anthony Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) labored to a lackluster 12 round unanimous decision over the game but limited fringe contender Jermaine Franklin (21-2, 14 KOs) on Saturday night in a competitive fight at the O2 Arena in London, England.
Joshua looked gunshy much of the time, seemingly afraid to let his hands go to use his huge 255-lb frame to steamroll Franklin like his promoter Eddie Hearn had predicted he would do.
The scores were:
Joshua did a lot of jabbing & holding throughout the 12 round contest. Interestingly, moments after the fight ended, Joshua looked like he wanted to keep on because he took a swipe at Franklin out of frustration.
Undercard results for tonight’s action:
Unbeaten heavyweight Fabio Wardley (16-0, 15 KOs) scored a fourth round TKO over the 36-year-old Michael Polite-Coffie (13-4, 10 KOs) to win the vacant WBA Continental title.
Wardley hurt Coffie with a nice right hand and then flurried on him to get a referee stoppage at 0:45 of the fourth. Referee Howard Foster stopped the fight, which wasn’t particularly entertaining from either guy.
Undefeated flyweight prospect Galal Yafai (4-0, 3 KOs) destroyed an overmatched Moises Calleros (36-11-1, 19 KOs), beating him by a 4th round knockout. Showing off his power, Yafai put Calleros on the canvas.
Referee Kieran McCann swooped in to wave off the contest, with the official time of 0:44. Yafai looked impressive tonight, showing both skills and punching power.
It’s still challenging to know whether he can hang with the top dogs at flyweight because he’s still facing lower-level fighters at this early stage of his career.
The 30-year-old Yafai will have to be matched against better opposition soon because he doesn’t have time to be brought along slowly like other prospects.
Super lightweight Campbell Hatton (10-0, 4 KOs) scored a first-round body shot stoppage of Louis Fielding (10-8, 1 KOs) in the first.
Campbell looked like a chip off the old block resembling his dad Ricky Hatton in nailing Fielding with a textbook left hook to the body to put him down on the canvas in agony. Referee Kieran McCann stopped the fight at 1:29.
Undefeated middleweight Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams (14-0, 10 KOs) defeated River Wilson-Bent (14-3-1, 6 KOs) by an eighth round knockout. Wilson-Bent’s corner threw in the towel. The bout was halted at 1:01 of the eighth. A round earlier, the 26-year-old Ammo knocked Wilson Bent down in the seventh.
What time is Anthony Joshua vs. Jermaine Franklin?
The main portion of tonight’s Joshua-Franklin card begins at 2:00 pm ET, live on DAZN.
“I like what AJ said because I believe he needs to put pressure on himself,” said Eddie Hearn to DAZN UK, reacting to Anthony Joshua saying he’ll retire if he loses to Jermaine Franklin tonight.
“You can avoid the question and say, ‘Well, I’ve got a long career ahead of me.’ Let’s be honest, AJ is here to try and become a three-time heavyweight world champion,” Hearn continued.
“He wants to fight Fury; he wants to fight Wilder. He wants all those big nights, and if he loses to Jermaine Franklin, they come a long way away. So, he must win tonight; there’s no point in dancing around the subject.
“He must win, and if he can do it in style, it makes the fights against Fury & Wilder mega, mega, mega events. I’m nervous and excited. I just hope he can put the performance together so that the hard work, the sacrifice of being out there in Dallas that he hopefully deserves,” said Hearn.
“I’m almost going to ask you to pick your favorite kid, which isn’t fair,” said Ade Oladipo. “You’ve had AJ from the very beginning, haven’t you? Since he turned pro, what has this journey been with AJ as opposed to maybe fighters that have turned pro that you’ve gotten from other promoters?
“What’s it like having AJ from the very start to the big fights in Wembley, Madison Square Garden, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East? What’s this journey been like?” said Oladipo.
“He’s changed the face of boxing; he’s changed my life, changed our company, and changed his life,” Hearn said about Joshua. “Everybody that works in boxing, I’m not expecting them to get up and individually thank Anthony Joshua.
Where is Joshua vs. Franklin?
Tonight’s battle between Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) and Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) is taking place at the O2 Arena in London, England.
“If you don’t acknowledge that without AJ, we wouldn’t be where we are, you’re a plum. He just completely changed the face of the sport and did it in a nice way. We’ve been ten years this year since we signed him, and unbelievable loyalty to us.
“We’ve done a great job for him, but every time that contract was up for renewal, there were huge offers coming from everywhere around the world. He backed us, and I backed him, and I’ll always have his back.
“That’s why I feel so fondly about the man he is, and that’s why I want him to win so badly. That’s why I get so nervous and excited and the rollercoaster. It’s been ten years this year since he debuted at the O2 Arena. It was just sort of a naive young fighter, really.
Anthony Joshua vs. Franklin, how to watch?
Joshua-Franklin will be shown live on DAZN. The event begins at 2:00 pm ET from the O2 Arena in London, England.
“It’s been a stressful ten years as well. Boxing is that. It’s stressful in a sense with AJ because everyone wants to fight him. The mandatorys were piling up and piling up.
“When he gets asked a question now about undisputed, he’s kind of like, ‘You know what?’ He almost wishes he hadn’t focused so much on undisputed as he did because there’s a lot of stress.
“You’re fighting mandatory after mandatory. Those splits are already locked in, and some of them are unfair. He ended up fighting Usyk as a mandatory. People were telling him not to fight Usyk.
“He wanted to be undisputed, so he felt it was his job as a champion to fight his mandatorys. I think he realizes now that he’s not chasing undisputed anymore. He’s chasing a world championship.
“He wants to be world champion again, and that’s the goal, and that’s why this fight is so important because, hopefully, it’s the start of momentum for a big 2023. I really want him to produce a stunning finish and a stunning performance because he’s an elite heavyweight.
“I said the other day, ‘You had a great fight with Oleksandr Usyk in that fight. After nine rounds, I put my house on you, winning from there. He was unbelievable. You lost 115-113. Like, so what. You’re an elite heavyweight. Believe in yourself and go and deliver on Saturday night,” said Hearn about his conversation with Joshua.
“It’s a good card. It’s always nice to have another good heavyweight fight on the card. It’s actually a tough fight for Fabio Wardley against Michael Coffie. We saw him in a good fight on ESPN, and he’s a good seasoned heavyweight that is tough.
“He likes to stand there and trade. It’s going to be an exciting fight. Fabio is still a little bit green. These are the type of fights that he needs. It’s slim pickings for the British title in terms of defenses,” said Hearn.
Anthony Joshua is in a critical must-win fight tonight against the talented American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin in London, England, at the O2 Arena, live on DAZN. The action kicks off at 2:00 pm ET.