Former two-time unified champion Joshua is looking to bounce back from his consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk, while the rising contender Franklin is aiming to pull off a huge upset and announce himself as a serious threat in the division.
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Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) has been through a roller-coaster ride in his career. He rose to fame by winning the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and then captured three of the four major world titles by 2018, defeating the likes of Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko, and Joseph Parker. He was widely regarded as the best heavyweight in the world and seemed destined for a mega-fight with Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.
His reign came to a shocking end in June 2019, when he was knocked out by Andy Ruiz Jr. in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Joshua redeemed himself by outboxing Ruiz in their rematch six months later, but he failed to impress many fans and critics with his cautious approach. He then knocked out Kubrat Pulev in December 2020 to set up a clash with Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion who had moved up to heavyweight.
Joshua was expected to beat Usyk and unify all four belts with Fury, who had dethroned Wilder in February 2020. However, Usyk proved to be a nightmare for Joshua, outclassing him with his superior speed, footwork, and boxing skills. Usyk won a unanimous decision and took all of Joshua’s titles in September 2021. Joshua exercised his rematch clause and faced Usyk again in August 2022, hoping to make some adjustments and regain his belts. However, Usyk was even more dominant in the second fight, dropping Joshua twice and stopping him in the ninth round.
Joshua was devastated by his second defeat to Usyk and threw down his belts on the canvas after the fight. He also went on a wild rant at the post-fight press conference, blaming his trainers, promoters, and even his fans for his losses. He then parted ways with his longtime coach Rob McCracken and hired Derrick James, who also trains Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo. Joshua said he needed a fresh start and a new style to revive his career.
Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) is a relatively unknown fighter who has been quietly climbing up the ranks in the heavyweight division. He turned pro in 2015 and won his first 20 fights, mostly against low-level opposition. He scored some notable wins over Rydell Booker, Jerry Forrest, and Craig Lewis, but he also struggled against some of them and failed to impress many observers with his performances.
Franklin suffered his first loss in July 2021, when he faced Filip Hrgovic for the IBF International title. Hrgovic was a highly touted prospect who had represented Croatia at the 2016 Olympics and had knocked out all of his previous opponents as a pro. Franklin was seen as an easy opponent for Hrgovic, but he surprised many by giving him a tough fight. Franklin showed his durability and heart by taking Hrgovic’s best shots and landing some of his own. He lost a close decision but earned respect from many fans and experts.
Franklin bounced back from his loss by knocking out Otto Wallin in November 2021. Wallin was another rising contender who had given Fury a hard time in 2019 and had beaten Dominic Breazeale in 2020. Franklin stunned Wallin with a right hand in the first round and finished him off with a barrage of punches. It was a statement win for Franklin, who proved that he could compete with the top heavyweights in the world.
Franklin then faced Michael Hunter in March 2022 for the WBA Interim title. Hunter was a former cruiserweight who had moved up to heavyweight and had fought to a draw with Alexander Povetkin in 2019. Hunter was favored to beat Franklin, but Franklin pulled off another upset by knocking him out in the seventh round. Franklin became the WBA Interim champion and secured his position as one of the mandatory challengers for Joshua’s former titles.
DIllain Whyte: Franklin showed great heart and resilience, but could not match Whyte’s skill and experience. The judges scored the fight 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 in favor of Whyte, who extended his winning streak to 13 fights and cemented his position as the mandatory challenger for the WBC title.
– Experience: Joshua has a clear edge in this department, having fought and beaten some of the best heavyweights of his era, such as Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. He has also been involved in some of the biggest events and venues in boxing history, such as Wembley Stadium, Madison Square Garden and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He knows how to handle pressure and adversity, having overcome knockdowns and setbacks in his career. Franklin, on the other hand, has never fought at this level or under this spotlight. He has not faced anyone near Joshua’s caliber or reputation, and he may be overwhelmed by the occasion and the atmosphere.
– Size: Both fighters are big and athletic heavyweights, but Joshua has a slight advantage in height and reach. He stands at 6’6″ and has a 82-inch wingspan, while Franklin is 6’2″ and has a 79-inch reach. This could give Joshua more leverage and range with his jab and straight right hand, which are his best weapons. Franklin will have to work his way inside and avoid getting caught by Joshua’s long punches.
– Power: Both fighters have proven knockout power, but Joshua may have more explosive and devastating punch than Franklin. Joshua has stopped 22 of his 24 wins, including some durable and respected foes. He has shown that he can hurt anyone with either hand, and he can finish them off with combinations or single shots. Franklin has also displayed impressive power, but he has not faced anyone with Joshua’s chin or resilience. He may find it harder to hurt or stop Joshua than his previous opponents.
– Speed: This is an area where Franklin may have an edge over Joshua. Franklin is a fast and fluid heavyweight who can move well and throw quick punches from different angles. He can also switch stances and confuse his opponents with his versatility. Joshua is not slow by any means, but he is more of a conventional and orthodox fighter who relies on timing and accuracy rather than speed. He may struggle to keep up with Franklin’s movement and pace.
– Stamina: This is another factor that could favor Franklin over Joshua. Franklin has gone the distance six times in his career, including twice over 10 rounds. He has shown that he can maintain his energy and output throughout a fight, without fading or slowing down. Joshua, on the other hand, has had some issues with stamina in the past, especially when he faces pressure or adversity. He has gassed out or looked tired in some of his fights, such as against Klitschko, Ruiz Jr. and Usyk. He may have trouble keeping up with Franklin if the fight goes into the later rounds.
– Style: This is perhaps the most important factor that will determine the outcome of the fight. Joshua is a boxer-puncher who likes to establish his jab and set up his power shots behind it. He is also good at controlling the distance and dictating the tempo of the fight. He prefers to fight at mid-range or long-range, where he can use his size and reach to his advantage. Franklin is a pressure fighter who likes to close the distance and work on the inside. He is also good at throwing combinations and mixing up his punches to the head and body. He prefers to fight at close-range or mid-range, where he can use his speed and power to his advantage.
Prediction: Joshua will stop Franklin late in round 8 or later