Anthony Joshua returned to the O2 Arena in London to record a victory over Jermaine Franklin on Saturday; The win was essential for Joshua’s hopes of reclaiming a world title but he did not record a statement knockout.
Anthony Joshua beat Jermaine Franklin by unanimous decision at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, an essential victory for the former champion’s future progression.
After a painful loss in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk last year, former champion Joshua was looking for his first victory since 2020 against Jermaine Franklin in London.
He had to win against the tough American and took a clear unanimous decision, 118-111 and 117-111 twice.
Franklin is a tough American heavyweight who had only lost once in 22 professional bouts and that was a close-fought majority decision defeat to Dillian Whyte in November.
While this fight was his first without at least one world title on the line in seven years, for Joshua it was still one of his most crucial. The result would determine the future direction of his career.
A third consecutive loss, for a star of Joshua’s calibre, would have left his further aspirations in tatters. In the build up to the contest he himself said he would retire, such were the stakes for him going into this fight.
A win, however, would propel him back once again towards his more accustomed place at the upper end of the heavyweight division.
The grim set to Joshua’s expression once he stepped into the ring was perhaps an indication of that pressure. He barely acknowledged the wild cheers that rang out for him as he stood in his corner waiting for the first bell.
In recent years Joshua has tended to fill out entire stadiums when he’s boxed in the UK. While this event was held at a smaller arena, that rapturous reception from the crowd showed Joshua is still a hugely popular figure on the British boxing scene.
Rather than take in the moment however, he had to keep his focus. At his side was new trainer Derrick James.
This was the third fight in succession in which Joshua has had a new team in his corner. This was his first contest with James and Joshua had had a first training camp with him in Texas.
Ahead of the fight this week, Joshua had declared that with all the questions he’d been asking of himself, now he had found the answers.