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Anthony Joshua faces perilous future after so-so performance in win over Jermaine Franklin -Report



Anthony Joshua is a talent. He’s got all the physical skills one needs to be heavyweight champion of the world.

Let’s be honest, though. Let’s not be politically correct, or kiss butt, or say what he and his promoter want to hear. At this point in time, coming off an ho-hum at-best unanimous decision victory over Jermaine Franklin Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, England, Anthony Joshua is simply not a good boxer.

He’s not going to be able to compete with the elite in his division, men like Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, the two most people want to see him fight next. If he fought Fury next, as the crowd urged him to do when he asked following the fight, he’d be lucky to make it past the sixth round.

Joshua has everything he needs to be great, including one of the sport’s elite trainers in Derrick James. The whole, here, is far less than the sum of the parts and that’s troubling.


Franklin had no business being in the ring with Joshua, but he was in the fight, throughout. Joshua represented, by far, the biggest challenge of his career. Franklin’s previous best opponent was Dillian Whyte, and Whyte defeated him last year. After that, Franklin’s career consisted of beating up on guys who are way better off punching a time clock for a living than they are boxing.

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Despite that, Franklin wasn’t embarrassed. Judges scored it 117-111 twice and 118-111 in favor of Joshua, which is deceptive. Joshua won most of the rounds, but he fought tentatively, never really opened up and couldn’t dominate a guy who physically was nowhere near his weight class.

It looks increasingly more like Andy Ruiz stole a piece of Joshua’s soul on June 1, 2019, in New York, when he stopped Joshua in the seventh to win the unified heavyweight title. Joshua has fought tentatively ever since.

Franklin showed a good chin, but he didn’t have the speed, power or boxing ability to seriously threaten Joshua. Referee Marcus McDonnell didn’t help Franklin’s cause at all. He warned Franklin repeatedly for holding, though it was Joshua initiating most of it. Franklin wanted to slip Joshua’s jab, cut the range and get inside and work the body. As a game plan, it made sense.


Joshua would throw one punch — did he ever throw a combination on Saturday? — and as Franklin tried to get inside, would bend at the waist and wrap himself around Franklin like a wet blanket. At one point between rounds, James scolded Joshua for holding. McDonnell, though, kept warning Franklin, and so his best chance of winning was taken away. He couldn’t get inside and punch. Joshua would lay all over him and force McDonnell to break them.

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Joshua entered the fight as a massive 12-1 favorite at BetMGM, and never was in serious danger of losing. He didn’t, though, impress anyone. Joshua had vowed to score a KO, but that was never close. What does it say about a one-time unified champion who can’t stop, at best, a C-level opponent?

“Jermaine, someone else will knock him out, probably,” Joshua said, forcing a laugh. “Jermaine has a good duck and dive style. There were opportunities there.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Anthony Joshua looks on from his corner during the Heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin at The O2 Arena on April 01, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
Anthony Joshua is at a crossroads in his career at this stage. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

He was asked who he wants to fight next and he asked the crowd. Almost in unison, they cheered for Fury, whose talks to fight Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed title on April 29 fell apart over a potential rematch. Fury is now looking for a fight.

Joshua, who has had ample opportunity to meet Fury in what would be a huge financial windfall for all involved, made a curious statement as the crowd cheered Fury’s name.


“Hopefully we can get this sooner than later because we ain’t getting any younger,” Joshua said.

Joshua is a better physical specimen and probably a better athlete than Fury. Fury, though, is a fighter. He not only has the boxing skills and the height and range to give Joshua fits, but he has the killer instinct that Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, sorely lacks. And under trainer SugarHill Steward, Fury has developed the punching power that could leave Joshua prone on his back in the middle of the ring.

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Wilder isn’t as good of a boxer as Fury, but he has even more of a killer instinct and he’s the biggest puncher in the game. He’d swarm Joshua by throwing bombs and have Joshua back-pedaling from the outset.

It’s not that Joshua can’t compete with those men. That’s crazy talk. But he seems lost as a fighter, not confident in his chin and unsure how he should fight.


That’s fine when you’re fighting Jermaine Franklin.

When it’s Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder on the other side of the ring, though, that’s a big-time danger for Joshua.

He needs to improve while working under the estimable James, and regain his confidence and his boxing skills. He needs to take three or four more fights against the likes of Franklin, but he commands so much money because of his past successes that he almost has to go fight the elite to make the match financially feasible.

Joshua, thus, sits at a crossroads: Fight Fury or Wilder next and likely wind up concussed and forced into retirement. Or, fight the likes of Franklin and be forced to accept a big pay cut and the disinterest of the fans.


There’s no easy answer, but it’s looking like the end is nearly at hand for Anthony Joshua.

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