Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin predictions: Stern test for AJ on comeback trail
Anthony Joshua returns to the ring this weekend against American Jermaine Franklin at the 02 Arena in London as he bids to work his way back into world title contention after losing his belts to Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua returns with point to prove
Joshua lost twice to Ukrainian Usyk and this will be his first outing without a world title on the line since 2016 — but arguably the stakes are higher than they have ever been for the Briton as his bid for redemption begins.
Franklin is also coming into the clash on the back of a loss as he saw his unbeaten record ended by Joshua’s old foe Dillian Whyte in November.
The 29-year-old American had managed 21 wins, with 14 coming inside the distance, before that defeat and he was perhaps unlucky not to at least claim a draw with Whyte after losing via a majority decision.
Joshua is the heavy favourite but this is by no means an easy assignment for the former WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight king and he cannot afford to be complacent.
Don’t expect an early finish at the 02 Arena
Joshua will be looking to make a statement on Saturday but Franklin is clearly a tough competitor and his performance against Whyte suggests he could well cause the former world champion a few problems.
Aside from Whyte, there are no big names on Franklin’s CV but the fact he went the full distance with ‘The Body Snatcher’ suggests he has something to offer at the top level.
Joshua has become a more controlled fighter in recent years and he is unlikely to completely move away from that approach despite coming up short against Usyk.
Since stopping Eric Molina in the third round back in 2016, Joshua has won six of his nine fights, but only one of those wins has come before the start of the eighth round.
This is a must-win fight for Joshua and that may result in a cagey opening in London rather than early fireworks.
Stoppage would be huge for AJ
Joshua will probably feel he needs to win this fight convincingly but will be looking to become the first man to stop Franklin in the professional ranks.
Joshua is capable of producing big shots late on and has claimed wins over the likes of Wladimir Klitschko, Kubrat Pulev, Alexander Povetkin, Whyte and Carlos Takam in the second half of fights over the course of his career — and he may well decide to up his work rate against Franklin in the later rounds to remove any doubt over the result, should he need to.
AJ is clearly the more experienced of these two fighters and as this contest is taking place in London he has home advantage.
Joshua’s defeats have only come against elite-level fighters, Usyk and Andy Ruiz, so he should be able to avoid an upset on Saturday. The double chance on Joshua to win in rounds 7-12 or by decision looks a solid option at 8/15 but we'll take the bigger price he can finish it before end.