Former two-time world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will return to his ring against American Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night.
The fight will be the first time in nearly seven years that 33-year-old Joshua has fought without a world title on the line.
Joshua hasn’t fought since his second loss in a row to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in a title rematch in Saudi Arabia last August.
“We can’t look back,” Joshua said this week. “We’re just looking ahead and I see a bright future and that keeps me in a good mood.”
When is the fight?
The fight is scheduled for Saturday, April 1.
What time does it start?
Expect ring walks for the main event to start around 10:30pm, possibly a little later depending on the duration of the undercard fights (see below).
Where is it?
Joshua fights for the first time since 2016 at the O2 Arena in London. This was the scene of his first world title victory over Charles Martin. Joshua’s record at the O2 is 7-0 in his favour.
How can I watch it on TV?
The fight will be shown live and exclusively on the American streaming platform DAZN, with whom Joshua has signed a five-year partnership.
Joshua vs Franklin will be included in the £9.99 per month DAZN savings plan and the app will be available on smart TVs, games consoles, tablets and mobile.
How can I buy tickets?
Tickets are still available through Matchroom and the O2 website through this link. Seats start at £117.
Where the battle is won and lost
Heavyweights don’t need to lose weight, but with Joshua (255.4 lbs) at his heaviest in his career, it indicates the two-time former world champion from London is looking for a short, powerful performance to get the job done early. Conversely, Franklin (234.12 lbs) is much lighter than before his bout against Dillian Whyte last November (Franklin’s only defeat, on points, in his 22-fight career) and will prefer to make the fight last longer and find his way against an exhausting AJ.
In that regard, the risk AJ’s team takes is that he retires early; if Franklin survives early bouts, the underdog can gain confidence and become a thorn in the side of the home fighter.
Franklin isn’t the fastest with his footwork and could be described as a slogger, but he has fast hands. His lightness and fitness may make him more likely to get out of range, and his trainer Jesse Addison told Telegraph Sport that he’s been working on his footwork and agility at this camp in Hollywood, Florida.
Franklin will have watched Andy Ruiz throw his hands in exchanges with Joshua, and is counting on exposing the weaknesses AJ had that night in New York in 2019 when the Brit suffered his first loss. Franklin will let his quick hands go with Joshua in time if he can get in.
Joshua, after using his punch to gain early reach, will try to unleash his left-right and left hook combinations – and inside uppercuts – if he can get his foe into the corners. Joshua said this week that he believes he will stop Franklin in the 10th round, but conventional wisdom, given his weight and the danger in this match, means Joshua will try to run Franklin down and probably won’t back down.
The perfect result for Joshua would be a finish within four of five rounds, destroying the American with either a poleaxing or a combination finish.
Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin Prediction
Joshua is a big favorite for a reason. Slacks happen, especially in heavyweight boxing, where one punch can change everything and undermine reputations and prowess. Franklin should be given a chance.
I watch Joshua Franklin deliver big, booming trouble with both his hands and his presence. What’s in Joshua’s head will count, but he must know deep down that nothing short of destruction will not satisfy the watching world, his promoters, and DAZN, his broadcast partners.
Joshua will throw hard and, in my opinion, will stop his American foe early, between four and seven rounds. AJ no longer wants to leave. No one gets paid for overtime in boxing.