On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua defeated Jermaine Franklin by unanimous decision at the O2 Arena in London, a crucial victory for the former champion’s future advancement.
After suffering a heartbreaking defeat in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk last year, former champion Joshua was looking for his first victory since 2020 when he faced Jermaine Franklin in London.
He needed to win against the tough American, and he did so with a 118-111 and 117-111 decision.
Franklin is a tough American heavyweight who has only lost one of his 22 professional fights, a close majority decision loss to Dillian Whyte in November.
While this was Joshua’s first fight without at least one world title on the line in seven years, it was still one of his most important. The outcome would determine his career’s future path.
A third consecutive defeat for a star of Joshua’s caliber would have shattered his future ambitions. In the build-up to the fight, he stated that he would retire because the stakes were so high for him.
A victory, on the other hand, would propel him back to his more familiar position at the top of the heavyweight division.
Joshua’s grim expression as he stepped into the ring was possibly an indication of that pressure. As he stood in his corner, waiting for the first bell, he barely acknowledged the wild cheers that rang out for him.
When Joshua has boxed in the UK in recent years, he has often sold out entire stadiums. Despite the fact that this event was held in a smaller arena, the enthusiastic response from the audience demonstrated that Joshua remains a hugely popular figure on the British boxing scene.
He had to maintain his focus rather than enjoy the moment. Derrick James, his new trainer, was by his side.
Joshua was fighting for the third time in a row with a new team in his corner. This was his first match with James, and Joshua had previously trained with him in Texas.
Before the fight this week, Joshua declared that he had found the answers to all of his questions about himself.
Others, however, will be skeptical after his performance on Saturday.
To begin with, Joshua did not rush. He maintained his form in the first two rounds, content to box behind quick jabs and beat Franklin to the target. He also took a wise step back from Franklin’s darting shots in the first round.
Though the two exchanged words after the bell, their hostility became clear.
In the second, Joshua stunned Franklin with a sharp double left, but it was the American who drew blood from Joshua’s nose and then thumped a strong cross to the chin, prompting Joshua to hold.
Through the middle rounds, Joshua maintained a measured approach to his boxing, occasionally unleashing his heavy cross or solid left hook but mostly letting quick jabbing catch Franklin out.
However, the American gained confidence, bursting forward to land wing hooks on Joshua, forcing the Briton to retreat behind his guard.
In the seventh round, Joshua smacked a cross into Franklin, who had to nod to acknowledge the blow.
The crowd erupted again in the eighth when the former champion slammed a combination into Franklin.
But the two became entangled in clinches, and in a show of frustration, Joshua pushed Franklin back with a glove to the face after the round ended.
He wasn’t, however, maintaining combinations. As his opponent bobbed forward, Joshua heaved a right down, only for Franklin to respond instantly and catch him on the chin.
Joshua accepted it, but the clinches persisted.
He took single shots, screwing his left through Franklin’s guard and popping his right cross straight in.
But once he had Franklin under his control, the American charged forward, driving Joshua into the ropes.
In the 11th round, Joshua hurt Franklin with a fine right uppercut on the inside, but instead of capitalizing, he was caught on the end of a clean right cross. Franklin snuck his right back in before the session ended.
The Briton was winning rounds, but the kind of statement he was hoping to make, a knockout or at least a knockdown, was eluding him.
In the final round, he tried to find it again, attacking Franklin with vigour as the crowd roared him in. But he couldn’t find a way out.
Instead, the competition ended in harrowing scenes, with a brawl nearly erupting on the ring apron. As the two fighters had to be separated, Franklin’s corner rushed at Joshua.
Despite the fact that it was a unanimous points decision, Joshua had secured the victory he required. That win was all that mattered for Joshua, who is working his way back to the top of the division.