Joshua vs Franklin: A dull fight that raises questions about Anthony Joshua’s future
Anthony Joshua returned to the ring after almost a year of inactivity and defeated Jermain Franklin by a unanimous decision in London on Saturday. But it was far from a convincing performance by the former heavyweight champion, who looked cautious, tentative and uninspired for most of the 12 rounds.
Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) had lost his last two fights to Oleksandr Usyk, who outboxed and humiliated him in their rematch. He parted ways with his longtime trainer Rob McCracken and hired Derrick James, who also trains Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo. Joshua hoped that James would help him rediscover his killer instinct and aggression that had made him one of the most exciting fighters in the division.
But against Franklin (21-2, 14 KOs), a relatively unknown American, Joshua showed little of that. He relied mostly on his jab and occasional right hands, while clinching frequently to neutralize Franklin’s attacks. He did not hurt Franklin or come close to finishing him at any point. He seemed content to win on points and avoid any risks.
Franklin, on the other hand, tried his best to make it a fight. He was not intimidated by Joshua’s size or reputation. He threw punches with conviction and landed some decent shots to the body and head. He was durable and resilient, never backing down or giving up. He even got into a scuffle with Joshua after the final bell, showing his frustration and anger.
The judges scored the fight 117-111, 117-111 and 118-111 for Joshua, who snapped his two-fight losing streak. But he did not impress anyone with his performance. The fans at the O2 Arena booed him during and after the fight. The boxing pundits and experts criticized him for his lack of urgency and excitement. The social media users mocked him for his boring style and questioned his heart and desire.
Joshua vs Franklin was supposed to be a tune-up fight for Joshua, a confidence booster and a showcase of his new skills under James. But it turned out to be a dull fight that raised more questions than answers about Joshua’s future. Is he still motivated to compete at the highest level? Does he still have the power and speed that made him a knockout artist? Does he still have the chin and stamina that helped him overcome adversity? Does he still have the hunger and passion that drove him to become a champion?
Joshua vs Franklin was not a fight that fans wanted to see or remember. It was a fight that made fans wonder if Anthony Joshua is going nowhere.