After several months out of the ring, our guy AJ steps back in against Jermaine Franklin this weekend in front of another big crowd at the O2 Arena, London.
Looking to reignite his career following back-to-back defeats to now heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, this is Joshua’s first fight without a belt involved in nearly eight years.
To start his path back to the top of the division, he will have to overcome his first challenge on Saturday night in the form of 29-year-old Franklin.
The American had an unblemished record until last November, when he came up against an old rival of AJ’s, Dillian Whyte.
In the first real test of his pro career, Franklin pushed Whyte hard but ultimately came unstuck against the experienced Brit, losing by majority decision at Wembley Arena.
Now back in the capital, and with a renewed energy to take on the best of the best, he’s not just in this fight for the payday.
In the other corner, this fight will hopefully mark the beginning of AJ’s resurgence. Billed as a ‘New Dawn’, the pressure will be off the two-time heavyweight champ as he aims to prove he’s still a real danger.
Blessed with show-stopping power and athletic ability, it was his tactical nous and game plan that was put under question when facing Usyk.
Moving on from Robert Garcia, who coached AJ to an improved effort in the Usyk rematch, he’ll now be under the stewardship of Derrick James, having based this camp in the USA.
Mixing with the ultra-talented Errol Spence Jr, Jermell Charlo and Frank Martin in James’ stable, Saturday night’s fight could showcase some of the latest skills he’s benefitted from in this environment.
The Stats & The Undercard
Our guy AJ stands the taller of the two at 6’6”, while the American relies on a shorter, stockier frame at just 6’2”. This height advantage grows further in reach by an inch, making it a possible fight of two opposing styles – AJ from distance, Franklin on the inside.
Both men have had shorter pro careers in the modern era, Joshua with 27 fights to Franklin’s 22. In this time, AJ has won by way of knockout 22 times in his 24 wins, proving superior to his opponent’s 14 in 21 victories. Can AJ make that 23/25 this weekend?
Before the pair meet in the ring, the evening is packed with action as fellow heavyweight Fabio Wardley takes on Michael Polite-Coffie. While Felix Cash and Austin Williams look to set up a clash between themselves, facing Matteo Signani and River Wilson-Brent respectively.
With the main event ring walks expected from 10:40pm, make sure you’re locked into @jdsports this week as we get behind-the-scenes access in the build up to fight night! 🥊