Anthony Joshua has beaten Jermaine Franklin on the judges’ scorecards after a gruelling 12-round contest.
Going into the fight, Anthony Joshua needed to make a statement with many hoping for a vintage ‘AJ’ knockout which made him a huge star in boxing.
Under the watchful eyes of new trainer Derrick James, it was clear that the Texan wanted Joshua to utilise his devastating right hand by probing Franklin with the jab in the opening round.
Franklin tried to combat this by establishing his own jab, but whenever the American looked to go on the offensive, Joshua capitalised with some shots of his own targeting the body.
As the fight progressed through the middle rounds, Joshua’s right hand became more prevalent and while they were landing, Franklin was still standing akin to his meeting with Dillian Whyte late last year.
Credit has to be given to Franklin, the majority of fans expected him to not make it past six rounds against the former unified world champion and it looked like an early night was on the cards in the sixth when a Joshua right uppercut narrowly missed his opponent.
In heavyweight boxing, stamina is vital and despite losing a significant amount of weight for this fight, Franklin was showing signs of tiredness from round eight onwards and this led to a rather messy conclusion.
Clinches aplenty, Franklin looked to keep the fight at close range. While this strategy seemed to work, the 29-year-old rocked Franklin with another right uppercut in the tenth.
This sparked a sense of anticipation in the sold-out O2 Arena crowd for the final two rounds. They have seen this classic Joshua finishes many times before and maybe their support would be the extra boost he needed to end the fight early.
But that early finish never came, and the fight went to the judges’ scorecards with two officials scoring the fight 117-111 and the other 118-111 in the Brit’s favour.
As expected, WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s name was mentioned post-fight as a possible next opponent for Joshua and it is the one fans are crying out for.
However, it’s clear there is still plenty to develop when it comes to the relationship between Joshua and his new trainer Derrick James, and maybe pushing for a world title shot in the Summer is a step too far.
But as the sun sets on this new dawn for Anthony Joshua’s career, the heavyweight division will be grateful to see the 33-year-old return to winning ways and hopefully brings some order to boxing’s most glamorous after a chaotic couple of weeks.
Author: Andrew Collins