Joshua, with new trainer James, to fight Franklin in April 1 return
AJ making comeback from two losses in heavyweight title bouts
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Anthony Joshua summed it up in a three-word tweet on Monday: A new dawn.
Indeed, the former two-time unified heavyweight titleholder will look for a fresh start as he attempts to shake off back-to-back losses when he returns to face Jermaine Franklin on April 1 (DAZN) at The O2 in his hometown of London.
The 12-rounder has been expected but was formally announced on Monday as was Joshua’s official union with new trainer Derrick James, the reigning Boxing Writers Association of America trainer of the year.
James, who also trains undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo and unified welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr., replaces Robert Garcia, who Joshua fired after working with him for only one fight. That fight, last August, was Joshua’s second decision loss in a row to Oleksandr Usyk, who took the three heavyweight belts from him in their first fight and retained them in the rematch.
Joshua-Franklin will be the first fight of Joshua’s five-year exclusive contract he signed with DAZN before losing the rematch to Usyk. DAZN did not have rights to Usyk-Joshua II in the United Kingdom. The fight will be part of a regular DAZN subscription and not a pay-per-view, as all of Joshua’s fights in the U.K. have been for years.
“I’m looking forward to stepping back into the ring on April 1 at The O2 in London,” Joshua said. “Mentally and physically I feel ready. I want to put on a show and impress my coach as he has high standards. Franklin has a good style and a great attitude, which he has shown in recent fights.
“This will be my first fight broadcast on DAZN in the U.K. and it will be globally available on the platform. I want to thank DAZN for supporting both myself and the sport of boxing as a whole. I would also like to thank the team at 258 and Matchroom Boxing.”
Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), 33, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, won a world title in 2016 and made six successful defenses, including unifying three belts, before he was upset in his United States debut in a seventh-round upset knockout to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019. Joshua regained the titles in a dominant decision win in the immediate rematch six months later.
But after knocking out mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round in December 2020, Joshua suffered the first of the two losses to Usyk in September 2021.
“AJ has reset and refocused and he is on a mission to defy his critics as he kicks off his exciting new partnership with DAZN,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), 29, of Saginaw, Michigan, got the fight based on his most recent fight. Although he lost a majority decision to former title challenger and onetime Joshua knockout victim Dillian Whyte in November, many thought Franklin deserved to win the action-packed battle.
“I’m ready to show the world why it’s time for me to take my place at the top of the heavyweight division,” Franklin said. “Joshua had his time. It’s my time to shock the world. This fight isn’t going to the judge’s card. I will have win No. 22 come April 1. That ain’t no April Fool’s joke.”
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Joshua is gunshy from the first Ruiz fight he will never be the same fighter he was before that loss