Anthony Joshua “Serious Focused Locked In” For April Bout
Thursday afternoon in London, the promotional kickoff for the return of former unified heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua began. This, as Joshua is set to take on lightly regarded Jermaine Franklin of the U.S. on April 1st at the O2 Arena in London.
The fighters were part of the Matchroom Boxing media event and the British hero Joshua, off his two defeats to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, knows that he’s got some doubters now about his future,
“Serious. Focus. Locked In,” is how Joshua described himself Thursday, as he will fight for the first time since last August and his rematch decision loss in Saudi Arabia to Usyk.
“It’s a serious fight (with Franklin). Good opponent. I respect all my opponents. If he had the belts there, I’d take him the same way. If he didn’t have the belts there, I’d take him the same way. I’ll give the man respect because he’s coming to fight. And, that will make me keep my feet on the ground.”
Joshua, 24-3, 22 KOs, is certainly talking up Michigan native Franklin suffered his first pro loss back in November to another Brit in Dillian Whyte after he had won his first 21 bouts.
However, this bout is expected to a convincing win for the former WBA/IBF/WBO world title holder to get himself confidence and back into the picture for a title shot.
Another interesting variable is that “AJ” has now enlisted the training help and expertise of American Derrick James, who is based in Texas and also trains unified welterweight champ Errol Spence and undisputed 154 lb. king Jermell Charlo. Joshua actually came to the U.S. last month to work with James some in his Texas gym.
For his part James was in attendance Thursday and said of his early dealings with Joshua, “He’s been great. I won’t talk about what I’m most impressed with, because that’s a giveaway. But, he’s a great fighter. Blessed with athleticism- foot movement. Very intellectual,” James said.
James is the third trainer in three fights for Joshua after he broke away from his only trainer going back to his amateur days Rob McCracken, who was with Joshua until his first loss to Usyk in September 2021. McCracken was criticized for the lack good strategy or in fight advice/adjustment for Joshua, as Usyk clearly out boxed him.
Then, the British former Gold Medalist in the 2012 London Olympics turned to Robert Garcia to train him for the rematch. However, that didn’t make a different result, as Usyk beat Joshua again on points last August. So, this will be a third different voice leading up to the bout with Franklin.
“I still feel fresh and young. Not really like a seasoned pro,” the 33 year old Joshua said Thursday. “I adapted to certain fights. But, it’s not like I’ve taken crazy punishment….it’s not like I’m war-torn. I still feel fresh.”
Now, we’ll see if that outlook and the trainer change has him ready to bounce back for the first non-title fight that Joshua will be involved in since December of 2015.