Anthony Joshua will get very little credit for this unanimous decision victory over Jermaine Franklin. The Sportsman said as much before the fight. The boxing peanut gallery isn’t ready for the assertion that this Franklin fella might actually be pretty good. For a country that deifies Derek Chisora, the ultimate gallant loser, it feels weird that very little credit has been given to the ‘989 Assassin’ after he has pushed two of our top heavyweights to the wire.
But alas nothing in this victory, AJ’s first since 2019, will have got the blood pumping for those unconvinced by Joshua. It was perhaps a little harder than expected, Those who hadn’t done their homework thought this would go be over quick. A bold assumption considering Franklin had lost just once and never come close to being stopped.
Back fighting indoors for the first time since 2020, and without a world title belt on the line in eight years, still nobody does big time boxing in this country like AJ. The entrance, pageantry and crowd reaction inside the O2 Arena told you that. When the bell rang, Joshua did what was required and admittedly not much more. It was a decent display, which is what he needed after three losses in five bouts.
The first round saw Joshua get behind the jab. Franklin landed a glancing right, but for the most part it was the 2021 Olympic gold medalist establishing distance and dominance. The latter didn’t last, as the American bloodied the Brit’s nose in the second round. A ramrod jab gave AJ some problems, but a left hook kept his opponent honest.
The third was a big Joshua round, with the ex-heavyweight king landing jab-right hands almost at will. The fourth was Franklin’s best round so far as he warmed to the task. The ‘Assassin’ made AJ miss on a number of occasions and it took until the bell for a flurry from Joshua’s fists to connect.
The fifth saw Joshua re-take control with a big right hand. Franklin fired back with a nice uppercut and carried the success into the sixth with a solid overhand right. AJ got the left hook-right hand working for him and it would be a continuing theme. Setting up the right hand and landing it was Joshua’s method in the seventh and eighth and it was an effective one, even if Franklin was usually resistant when AJ got more ambitious.
The protagonists began to tire in the ninth round, with Franklin walking forward and not throwing. The hometown hero could only hold when the away fighter reached him. Joshua was still getting the better of the exchanges though and his fine body work in the tenth and eleventh set up a grandstanding twelfth. Both men emptied the tank, to such a degree that a shoving match broke out at the bell. AJ just can’t get out of thiese big fights without incident, but at least it was over quickly.
Unlike after his loss to Oleksandr Usyk in the autumn, Joshua was calm in the aftermath. He wants Tyson Fury next, that much was clear. We know the path to that fight will not be straightforward. This fight wasn’t either, but people will moan about anything Anthony Joshua does. The two-time heavyweight champion of the world can still take satisfaction in a job done pretty well and a deserved victory.
Picture: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change