Joshua Places Career on Line against Franklin

Life was very different for Anthony Joshua the last time he fought at London’s O2 Arena.

In June 2016, the British heavyweight made a first defence of his world title by stopping challenger Dominic Breazeale with a seventh-round knockout.

With a perfect record of 17 knockout wins from as many fights, the 2012 Olympic golden boy was living up to the hype.

After seven years or 2,472 days to be exact – Joshua, 33, returns to the arena tonight to face American underdog Jermaine Franklin, desperately searching for a victory to reignite his career after consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

But for Joshua to get back to winning ways, does he need to revert to the fearless, powerful, ruthless boxer and clinical finisher we saw early in his blossoming career?

“I can’t deny it,” he says. “Maybe fans do need to see the old Anthony Joshua.”

Joshua has only been defeated by two men. He suffered a shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019, but won the rematch six months later and, in Usyk, he lost to a fighter likely destined to be for the Hall of Fame.

But with wins over Wladimir Klitschko, Dillian Whyte, Alexander Povetkin and Joseph Parker, Joshua does boast one of the better records amongst active heavyweights.

Promoter Eddie Hearn feels his fighter’s demise has been somewhat embellished.

“I see one of the best heavyweights in the world who wants to regain his position and become a three-time heavyweight world champion,” says Hearn.

However, Joshua has been criticised for being too gun-shy in his approach since losing to Ruiz, opting to outbox rather than bulldoze his opponents.

Trainer Jamie Moore feels Joshua should play to his strengths against 29-year-old Franklin.

“He (Joshua) was a tremendous amateur, and he’s a good boxer, but his main asset was his raw strength and power,” Moore says. “If we’re going to see the best of him against Franklin, he needs to find that killer instinct again. It’s not easy, but I do think it’s possible for him to get back to the top and turn back the clock. We just need to see a throwback AJ.”

Joshua “100%” understands the need to make a statement against Franklin.

“The type of style you take to the fight and the way you win is a massive part of moving to the next stage of your career,” Joshua says. “No-one wants a boring fight, everyone wants to see someone get smashed to pieces.”

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