I still feel fresh and young – Anthony Joshua ready for Jermaine Franklin fight
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Anthony Joshua has shown his true colours as a highly critical assessment of his second fight with Oleksandr Usyk has come to light. Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that AJ believes the rematch was a ‘disaster’ despite his much-improved performance.
After being convincingly outboxed in the inaugural encounter back in September 2021, Joshua rebounded well when he ran it back with the Ukrainian 11 months later. Under then-new coach Robert Garcia, Joshua adopted a far more aggressive approach, targeting Usyk’s body and forcing him back against the ropes with superior size and strength.
Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t enough to overcome the tricky technician who took the fight via a split decision. “I thought he performed very well against Usyk in the second fight,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “Still could’ve done more, but after nine rounds I think he’s winning the fight.
“And then Usyk closes out unbelievably and was brilliant. But he felt it was a disaster, and I keep saying to him, ‘You did all right. You lost 115-113 to pound-for-pound number one. Forget the first fight – tactics wrong. And you still could’ve done more.’”
“I still see him as a top-three heavyweight,” Hearn added. “If you put [Deontay] Wilder in that mix as well, top four. Because it really is Fury, AJ, Usyk and Wilder. You’ve got Joe Joyce, who could be in that mix. But his best win is Joseph Parker. So, we’ve still gotta see. But AJ, don’t be harsh on yourself. You’re still one of the best in the world. But he doesn’t wanna be one of the best in the world, he wants to be the best. And we’ll see where he’s at against Franklin.”
Following the defeat, Joshua axed Garcia and went on a tour of America in search of a new trainer, eventually choosing Derrick James to oversee his training. Joshua is now out in Dallas, Texas with James preparing for his return to the ring on April 1.
He faces Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in a fight that carries massive implications. A loss for Joshua could spell the end of his career. Meanwhile, a victory sets up potential blockbuster showdowns with Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury who have all been teased by Eddie Hearn.
Joshua was originally expected to box Whyte next, however, Franklin was chosen instead after taking the Body Snatcher down to the wire in November. Whyte expressed his frustration at the change of plans but has been assured a fight will take place in the summer provided Joshua gets the win next month.
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