Anthony Joshua accepts deal to fight Jermaine Franklin in April.
Anthony Joshua agrees deal to face American Jermaine Franklin in April.
Sportsmail can exclusively report that Anthony Joshua has consented to face American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin on April 1 at the O2 Arena.
Since losing to Oleksandr Usyk twice in a row in September 2021 and surrendering his WBA, WBO, and IBF titles in August 2022, Joshua has not entered the ring.
Sportsmail can confirm that Franklin, who trained with Tyson Fury prior to his fight with Dillian Whyte in November 2022, will be Joshua’s opponent.
Franklin and Joshua have reached an agreement over the fight’s finances, and they will sign the official paperwork later this afternoon.
On April 1, the two heavyweight boxers will square off at the O2 Arena in the United Kingdom.
Franklin will be aiming to avenge his loss to Whyte in November 2022, while Joshua will be looking to restore his dominance in the heavyweight division.
Joshua looked set to face Fury in December but negotiations between the two British boxers collapsed in October after the Gypsy King grew frustrated with how long AJ’s team were taking to sign the contract.
Along with choosing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium as the venue, the two also agreed on the TV rights, which were rumoured to be a sticking point. It wasn’t meant to be, though.
After winning the IBF Intercontinental heavyweight title in October, the unbeaten Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean begged for about, which put AJ in the spotlight.
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However, Sportsmail can confirm that Joshua has agreed to take on Franklin instead. He will face the American heavyweight at the O2 Arena on April 1.
Franklin went toe-to-toe with Dillian Whyte in November 2022. However, it was the British boxer that emerged victorious with a majority decision after their 12-round contest at Wembley Arena.
Franklin felt as though he had been ‘robbed’ – with Michael Alexander scoring their bout level at 115-115 while Juergen Landos and Grzegorz Molenda scored the fight 116-112 in favour of Whyte.
Speaking after the fight, Franklin said: ‘I felt like I got robbed. I felt like I did enough to get the decision. I felt like I won the earlier rounds. I just felt like I got robbed on the decision.’
The American was disappointed to have lost the fight considering he entered the ring with a professional record of 21 wins, 0 loses and 0 draws, having knocked out 14 of his 21 opponents.
However, Eddie Hearn – who was ringside along with Joshua – defended the judges’ decision, but admitted that he understands why others scored the bout in favour of Franklin.
Speaking after the fight, Hearn said: ‘I thought Dillian won the championship rounds to win the fight by a round, maybe two rounds. I can see a draw, and when it is 115-113 I can see it the other way as well. So I don’t blame people for thinking Franklin might’ve nicked the fight because it was a very close fight.’
But despite acknowledging that the bout could have gone either way, Hearn was adamant that Whyte’s victory did not constitute a robbery.
‘It’s not a robbery at all. It was a very close fight. I feel it was 115-113 to Whyte. I can see a draw. Can I see 115-113 to Franklin? Not really, but maybe… Anyone who says that’s a robbery is thick as s*** in all honesty.’
Franklin is eager to prove himself against Joshua and promoter Dmitriy Salita is confident he can pull off an upset.
‘Joshua, coming off two losses, changing trainers, is vulnerable,’ Salita previously said. ‘Let’s be honest. Jermaine realises it. He feels like he has his own future and path. He’s ready to go out there and score the upset. Some feel like it could be an upset, and some don’t.
‘But Jermaine’s going out there looking to score the win. After, he wants the rematch with Dillian Whyte, and then he wants to fight the winner of [Tyson] Fury vs. Usyk.’