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If this was a “New Dawn” for Anthony Joshua, then it was a dank and drizzly morning.
As expected and planned, Anthony Joshua has defeated Jermaine Franklin Saturday night, April 1, at London’s O2 Arena. It was not by the knockout that Joshua had predicted, but a unanimous decision after 12 dreary and relatively uneventful rounds.
The official scores were 118-111 and 117-111 twice. Joshua is now 25-3 with 22 KOs, while Franklin suffers his second points defeat in a row, falling to 21-2 with 14 KOs. This was Joshua’s first victory after two defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, and his first win since December 2020.
In this fight, Joshua looked stiffer and more robotic than ever. He fought with the urgency of someone waiting for a bus scheduled to arrive in two hours. There was a clear regression in his technique, even from his last fight with Usyk, whom he hurt in the ninth round. Joshua threw few combinations, had leaden footwork, again fought tentatively, and scored no knockdowns after predicting a tenth-round knockout.
Franklin had been hurt and nearly knocked down at the end of the 12th round in his previous fight with Dillian Whyte. Joshua could not replicate that feat. Both he and Franklin looked exhausted in the later rounds. There was not much of note for Joshua from his first fight with new trainer Derrick James, and in which he weighed in at a career-high of 255.4 lbs.
This may sound like a harsh assessment, but given what Joshua had accomplished in the past, this is a hollow victory. Judging from the reaction on social media, he failed to impress even his die-hard fans. Many wanted to see a revival, a return to the Joshua of not so long ago, who was known for his killer instinct. It was like wishing Covid had never happened.
Anthony Joshua said, after the bout, he wished he’d gotten the KO
In his postfight comments, Joshua said he wished he could have knocked Franklin out, even admitting, “in the next 15 years no one will remember that fight anyway.” Make that 15 minutes.
The most excitement of the night, and only article which I saw that mentioned “excitement”, occurred before the fight. Boxer Ebanie Bridges, who often comes to her weigh-ins wearing skimpy lingerie, “fuelled excitement among boxing fans before Anthony Joshua’s bout against Jermaine Franklin by posing alongside the gorgeous ring girls from fight night.” (1)
The most excitement in the ring took place just after the final bell sounded ending the fight. For the second fight in a row, Joshua was involved in a postfight fracas. This time he and Franklin scuffled for a short time, but even these fireworks were quickly extinguished. This was accompanied by some brawling both inside and right outside the ring, which required security to step in. Joshua and Franklin did finally shake hands, but the damage had been done.
Unfortunately, none of this was an April Fool’s Day prank.
Anthony Joshua still wants a fight with Tyson Fury
After the fight, Joshua repeated his desire to face Tyson Fury. If Fury’s head is clear and he is relatively in shape, he will box circles around Joshua should they fight. Such a fight would definitely be lucrative, but with Fury, the only certainty is uncertainty.
Perhaps it is time for Joshua to embark on a world tour. He is still popular in Nigeria where his family is from. A major fight there would boost the economy of that country, which has the largest population in Africa.
Joshua also might join the growing list of fading and faded boxers who fight wrestlers, MMA fighters, social media clowns, and the like. The circus does pay well these days.
But based on his recent performances, Anthony Joshua’s time at the top of the heavyweight division has passed. Sure, he could eventually pick up one of these alphabet soup belts by fighting guys like Franklin if and when they become vacant, but that would be meaningless.
As baseball Hall of Famer and boxing fan Yogi Berra philosophized, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” For Anthony Joshua, to no one’s delight, it seems just about over.
1 — Anthony Joshua’s gorgeous ring girls look incredible ring side with Ebanie Bridges
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