Anthony Joshua is facing a critical moment in his career as he prepares for his upcoming fight against Jermaine Franklin at London’s O2 Arena. The former two-time world champion is coming off consecutive losses to Unified Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk, and a defeat to Franklin could spell the end of his career as a top heavyweight contender.
Joshua has been a hugely popular figure in the UK since his Olympic gold medal win at the 2012 London Games, and his string of world title victories in 2016-18 cemented his status as one of boxing’s biggest names. However, his recent setbacks have dented his credibility and left him in need of a win to stay relevant at the very top of the division.
Despite the pressure on him, Joshua remains focused on the future and is keen to secure a fight with current WBC-Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury. “There’s no better time to get Fury in the ring than now because he needs me to redeem himself from this circus, this letdown,” he said. “He needs me, so there’s no better time than for him to call my name out and I’m someone that will take on any challenge.”
However, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is wary of getting ahead of himself and is aware of what’s at stake for Joshua if he loses to Franklin. “People talk about whether his career is over if he loses this fight,” he said. “Well, his world title ambitions are in tatters if he loses this fight.”
Franklin, for his part, is not taking the fight lightly and is determined to prove himself against one of the sport’s top stars. “The circumstances around this fight are very different,” he said. “This time I’ve got more time to prepare and more time to get in shape.”
As for Joshua, he knows he can’t afford to take his foot off the gas at this stage of his career. “Soft touches build a false sense of confidence,” he said. “I truly believe that boxing’s a young man’s sport.”
Despite the pressure, Joshua is keeping a positive outlook and is looking forward to enjoying life once his boxing career is over. “You lot (the media) put so much pressure on me so when I am done, the chains are going to be gone. I am going to be laughing and loving life,” he said.