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Anthony Joshua Faces Jermaine Franklin On April 1st At O2 In London

By Barry Holbrook: Anthony Joshua’s fight against Jermaine Franklin is now official for April 1st on regular non-PPV on DAZN at the O2 Arena in London, England.

This is a must-win fight for the 33-year-old former two-time heavyweight champion Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), as he can no longer afford to absorb defeats if he wants to achieve his dream of capturing another world title.

Although the American Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) is supposed to be a tune-up for Joshua to prepare him for a summer fight against Dillian Whyte, the reality is that this is a risky match-up for AJ, one that he could lose.

AJ taking a big risk

Joshua is putting his career on the line by electing to fight the blazing-fast combination puncher Franklin because he has a similar style as Andy Ruiz Jr, but without the excess tonnage that the Mexican American carries around.

The fans that witnessed the Franklin-Whyte fight last November recognized that Franklin should have won that contest by at least six rounds, as he outboxed and outworked a very old-looking Whyte.

It was a classic example of a home fighter [Whyte] being given a decision he didn’t deserve. This time, Franklin vows to take the judges out of play for his second trip to London. Not surprisingly, Franklin doesn’t want to take chances of getting the business a second time in a fight in the UK.

On paper, Franklin is a far tougher fight for Joshua than a match against the faded 34-year-old Whyte, which is why it would have been better for promoter Eddie Hearn to have scheduled the Joshua-Whyte II rematch for April and had AJ face Franklin in July.

The reason for the match against Whyte being pushed to July is that it’ll be summer, and Hearn can place him and AJ in an outdoor stadium and bring in a huge crowd.

The weather won’t be ideal on April 1st for an outdoor stadium fight for the Joshua vs. Whyte rematch. Hence, the match will take place in July. Still, it’s an easier fight for Joshua than Franklin, which could ultimately bite Hearn & AJ on their backsides if this blows up in their faces with Jermaine winning.

“I’m looking forward to stepping back into the ring on April 1 at The O2 in London,” said Joshua. “I want to put on a show and impress my coach [Derrick James], who has high standards. Franklin has a good style.”

“I’m ready to show the world why it’s time for me to take my place at the top of the heavyweight division,” said Franklin. “Joshua had his time. It’s my time to shock the world! This fight is NOT going to the judge’s card.”

Must-win fight for Joshua

“Of course, the main man, the big man, Anthony Joshua returns to the lion’s den, and it’ll be a huge card from top to bottom,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing. “It used to be the stomping ground for AJ,” Hearn said about the O2.

“For a long time, that was home for AJ, that was the lion’s den, and I think it’s going to be emotional for him to return now. I think it’s going to really enjoy going back to the O2 Arena. I wish we had another 60,000 tickets. They’re going to go really quickly.

“It’s a big fight against Franklin. He’s coming off a big fight against Dillian Whyte [in November], and a really close fight.  He’s full of confidence.  Heavyweights look at AJ and think, ‘There’s a chink in the armor, and I could be that guy to take that scalp.’

“So everybody’s going to raise their game when they fight him, and it’s a must-win fight for AJ.

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