Two-time former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is facing Jermaine Franklin in a “get right” fight as he seeks to rebuild his position as one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world. Joshua established himself as one of the top heavyweights in the professional ranks after winning the IBF title in his 16th professional fight and adding the WBA and WBO titles in his next fights. However, his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 indicated that the wheels were starting to come off the Joshua wagon. Joshua then suffered two back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, leaving him outside the top of the division and derailed a potential showdown with fellow Englishman Tyson Fury. Forced to rebuild, Joshua needed a fight against a capable opponent whom he should be expected to beat. Franklin is the +700 underdog, who has won 21 fights in his career, leading to a fight against former world title challenger Dillian Whyte. The fight with Whyte was a close affair in which Franklin proved he could hang with one of the better heavyweights in the world.
Joshua took the defeat against Usyk seriously, and began training with a new team in Texas to both change his approach to fighting and place himself somewhat out of the constant spotlight that has shined on him in England for his entire career. He weighed in at a career-high 255 pounds but looked absolutely ripped, not bloated or out of shape in the least. While Franklin is talented enough to win if Joshua has a truly off night, he is not talented enough to be truly competitive if Joshua shows up ready to go. The real question is whether Joshua shows up looking to prove a point and make an example of Franklin, or if he plays it safe to go the distance. The move to Texas to work with Derrick James indicates that Joshua understands where he stands and the importance of doing things in the right way if he is going to make another run at world championship glory.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Joshua admitted to questioning himself: “When you’re under pressure, you put expectations on yourself. I didn’t have time to stop, but in those quiet times when I’m sitting there questioning myself, I definitely had to soul search a bit… Questioning myself, how do I get better, what am I looking for, what’s the purpose, why did I act like that (after the fight), if it happened again how could I do better?” Joshua’s aim is to ascend to the top of the heavyweight mountain but can afford no further losses or unexpected speed bumps. While Joshua might be able to win against Franklin, he should not let his guard down as any single loss to an unheralded opponent could stall his climb back to the top.