Former two-time heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua will look to snap a two-fight losing skid on Saturday, when he returns in London to face Jermaine Franklin in a DAZN main event.
Will Joshua (24-3, 22 KO) get big results from his work with new trainer Derrick James, or can Franklin (21-1, 14 KO) pull a big upset and make himself a top name in the heavyweight ranks following his own close loss to Dillian Whyte in November?
Scott Christ (24-14)
I think we see AJ come to make a statement in this one, and I think he’s going to be looking to do damage early and often. I don’t think there’s much coming back from Franklin that is going to give him big pause; not saying that can’t be dangerous, because even if Franklin isn’t a puncher, he is still a big man, and you don’t want to just get jaw-jacked clean by him.
But I don’t think Franklin will really even get the chances to get those shots off. Joshua isn’t just a better puncher, he’s also a better athlete and isn’t some clueless, lumbering bozo, and Franklin can box, but he’s not exactly Usyk or even Andy Ruiz, I don’t think. AJ gets some heat back on his career in dominant fashion. Joshua TKO-4
Wil Esco (27-11)
In a lot of respects I genuinely give credit to Anthony Joshua. The man has made a shit-ton of money in this sport and it would be easy for him to sort of walk away and enjoy the rest of his life without worrying about getting hit upside the head. And considering the recent losses he’s had I’m not sure anyone would really blame him if he did so. But Joshua actually seems to have a burning desire to leave no stone unturned in an attempt to maximize his fighting career, and puts himself in uncomfortable situations in order to accomplish this.
Recently Joshua has been training out of Texas without the glitz and glam, nor a spotlight, nor a truly marquee opponent that the world will be truly excited about. Despite this, Joshua is putting forth what I understand to be his best effort to find whatever’s missing, whatever can get him back to the pinnacle. Whether or not he actually finds it is one question, but I can’t knock the man for his passion.
Jermaine Franklin is a decent and fairly sturdy opponent, but I don’t think he’ll really have the gears to push past just having some competitive rounds with Anthony Joshua, who while maybe not an elite talent is still probably above that of Franklin. I think this is the level of fight that Joshua has proven he can conquer, but it’s the elite level where he’ll fall short. Joshua UD-12
John Hansen (29-9)
If this isn’t unanimous, I’ll be amazed. Anthony Joshua knocked out a 27-year-old, undefeated Dillian Whyte. Jermaine Franklin fought the best fight of his life to go distance and lose cards to a diminished, mid-30s version of Dillian Whyte. Levels, etc., and these guys aren’t on the same one.
This is all about getting back on track for Anthony Joshua, and testing out whatever he’s been working on in Texas under new trainership. If the outcome were in any serious doubt, someone else would be getting served up as Joshua’s “Get Well Soon!” greeting card instead.
Ideally, Joshua looks so good and feels so comfortable that we move directly into a top level fight for him before the end of 2023. Joyce? Dubois? Wilder? Someone else in that general range? Let this fight be a quick stepping stone back to that sort of spotlight for AJ. Getting a signed and executed fight contract with Tyson Fury these days is harder than getting into Narnia, so I won’t hold my breath for that. Joshua TKO-8
Patrick Stumberg (29-9)
Joshua has everything he needs to win this fight. Franklin is the latest solid, well-schooled boxer in a career that’s seen Joshua beat a number of them, from Joseph Parker to Alexander Povetkin to Kubrat Pulev; on paper, this is nothing Joshua hasn’t seen and dealt with before. The skill and grit are there for Franklin, but he doesn’t offer a killer app with which to overcome Joshua’s four-inch height advantage, five-inch reach advantage, and far superior punching power.
Having everything you need to win a fight doesn’t necessarily translate to using it properly, though, and the intrigue here comes from Joshua’s ongoing existential crisis. Cycling through trainers like this is an obvious red flag; though Franklin may lack any single stunning aspect of his game, he’s fundamentally sound and dependable enough to out-work “AJ” if the latter’s gears aren’t meshing. Still, there’s way too much going Joshua’s way for me to pick against him. Expect him to hold his own at mid-range, control the inside, and land the more telling blows to secure a competitive but comfortable decision. Joshua UD-12