Anthony Joshua has agreed to face American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on April 1. sports mail can exclusively disclose.
Joshua has not set foot in the ring since his second straight loss to Oleksandr Usyk in August 2022, having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF belts to the Ukrainian in September 2021.
However, Sportsmail can confirm that Joshua will take on Franklin, who trained alongside Tyson Fury in preparation for his showdown with Dillian Whyte in November 2022.
Anthony Joshua (R) will face Jermaine Franklin (L) when he returns to the ring in April
Joshua and Franklin have agreed on the finances of the fight and will sign the final paperwork later this afternoon.
The fight between the two heavyweight boxers will take place in the UK at the O2 Arena on April 1.
Joshua will look to reassert his dominance in the heavyweight division, while Franklin will look to bounce back after his loss to Whyte in November 2022.
Joshua (right) suffered his second straight loss to Usyk (left) in August (above), having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF belts to the Ukrainian in September last year.
Joshua looked set to face Fury in December, but negotiations between the two British fighters collapsed in October after Gypsy King grew frustrated with how long AJ’s team was taking to sign the contract.
AJ was disappointed to see the deal fall through as they had made good progress, agreeing to the financial terms of the fight and splitting the purse 60/40 in favor of the WBC champion.
The couple had also named the Principality Stadium in Cardiff as the chosen venue and agreed on television rights, which were said to be a stumbling block. However, it was not meant to be.
AJ was then linked with undefeated Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean when the southpaw called the fight after he won the IBF Intercontinental heavyweight belt last October.
He will face Franklin (right), who went head-to-head with Dillian Whyte (left) in November 2022.
However, it was the British boxer who emerged victorious from the bout at Wembley Arena.
However, Sportsmail can confirm that Joshua has agreed to take on Franklin instead. He will face the American heavyweight at the O2 Arena on April 1.
Franklin went toe-to-toe with Dillian Whyte in November 2022. However, it was the British boxer who emerged victorious with a majority decision after their 12-round contest at Wembley Arena.
Franklin felt as if he had been “robbed”: Michael Alexander scored his fight level at 115-115 while Juergen Landos and Grzegorz Molenda scored the fight 116-112 in favor of Whyte.
Speaking after the fight, Franklin said: ‘I felt like I was robbed. I felt like I did enough to make the decision. I felt like I won the previous rounds. I felt like my decision was stolen.
Eddie Hearn (right) and Joshua (left) were ringside for the fight between Franklin and Whyte
Franklin is eager to prove himself against Joshua and promoter Dmitriy Salita (left) is confident he can pull off the upset before he takes on the winner of Tyson Fury vs. usyk.
The American was disappointed to lose the fight considering he entered the ring with a professional record of 21 wins, 0 losses and 0 draws, having knocked out 14 of his 21 opponents.
However, Eddie Hearn, who was ringside along with Joshua, defended the judges’ decision but admitted that he understands why others scored the fight in Franklin’s favor.
Speaking after the fight, Hearn said: “I thought Dillian won the championship rounds to win the fight by one round, maybe two rounds.” I can see a tie, and when it’s 115-113 I can also see it reversed. So I don’t blame people for thinking that Franklin could have gotten into the fight because it was such a close fight.’
But despite acknowledging that the fight could have gone either way, Hearn insisted that Whyte’s victory did not amount to stealing.
It’s not a robbery at all. It was a very close fight. I feel like it was 115-113 for Whyte. I can see a raffle. Can I see 115-113 Franklin? Not really, but maybe… Anyone who says that’s theft is being honest.”
Franklin (left) trained alongside Fury (center) before her showdown with Dillian Whyte
Franklin is eager to prove himself against Joshua and promoter Dmitriy Salita is confident he can pull off the upset.
“Joshua, who is coming off two losses, changes coaches, he is vulnerable,” Salita previously said. ‘Let’s be honest. Jermaine notices. He feels that he has his own future and his path. He is ready to go out and score the upset. Some feel it could be a bother, and some don’t.
‘But Jermaine is going to look for the win. Next, he wants a rematch with Dillian Whyte, and then he wants to fight the winner of [Tyson] Fury against Usyk.