By Adam Baskin: Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says his April 1st opponent will be announced next week, and he’s hinting that it could be American Jermaine Franklin.
Hearn rattled off four options for AJ, ruling out three of them, leaving only Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), a fighter coming off a controversial 12 round majority decision against Dillian Whyte last year on November 26th at the Wembley Arena in London.
Hearn doesn’t want to match Joshua against a southpaw for his next fight, effectively removing Otto Wallin and Demsey McKean from the four contestants.
Filip Hrgovic, a fighter that Hearn would like to match against Joshua, has been ordered by the IBF to face Andy Ruiz Jr next in a title eliminator.
“He’s definitely in the mix. Demsey McKean is still in the mix,” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing Social when asked if Jermaine Franklin is a possible option for Anthony Joshua’s April 1st fight.
“The linkup with a new trainer means a southpaw fighter, even though AJ just boxed one of them twice, is not ideal,” Hearn said, making it unlikely that the southpaw McKean will be the one Joshua faces in April.
“When you look at the future for Anthony Joshua, the future revolves around Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Dillian Whyte. They’re three orthodox fighters. It is likely that he will face an orthodox fighter next.
“I think Jermaine Franklin is a great fighter. People say, ‘It’s definitely Jermaine Franklin.’ Nothing is signed and agreed with, but Jermaine Franklin is coming off a fight where it was a very close fight with Dillian Whyte. Some people felt he won that fight,” said Hearn.
Interestingly, many British boxing fans don’t like the idea of Joshua fighting Franklin because they felt that Whyte beat him last November.
Americans saw that as a clear victory for Franklin in which he dominated the 34-year-old Whyte through the first nine rounds, outboxing him with ease and making him look much older than his chronological age.
Whyte rallied in the championship rounds, but he was still getting out-hustled by Franklin.
The only round that you could clearly give Whyte was the twelfth, when he emptied his gas tank and knocked Franklin against the ropes in the final seconds. Some fans think Franklin was hurt, but in reality, he was knocked backward into the ropes and covered up.
“I’ve seen the majority of responses of people on social media who say, ‘That’s a good fight to come back to.’ That’s a dangerous fight. Some say, ‘That’s a mismatch, mate.’ I saw Gareth Davies’ article on the telegraph, which is baffling.
“I just don’t understand some people’s criticism of AJ coming off his [loss]. He just fought Oleksandr Usyk twice. If he fights Demsey McKean, Otto Wallin, Jermaine Franklin, I don’t understand what more people want coming back working with a new trainer, getting a foothold back in the heavyweight division.
“Jermaine Franklin is a dangerous fight for Anthony Joshua. He’s full of confidence, coming off a great performance against Dillian Whyte. We’ll see if it’s him. AJ is in camp now in America. He will go on April 1st at the O2 Arena, and I expect an announcement probably next week.
“Not necessarily,” said Hearn when asked if Franklin is the frontrunner for Joshua’s April 1st fight. “Otto Wallin is in the mix. Again, the southpaw situation is a problem. There are loads of people that put their name forward for that fight. Probably half of the 15 in the world.
“Filip Hrgovic is another guy. It’s a tough fight for AJ. That’s a great fight, but I think you’re more likely to see AJ against Filip Hrgovic for the IBF world title after the Usyk Fury fight probably.
“I think it will be [for the vacant IBF belt] by the time it comes around, but again that’s a good fight, a dangerous fight. Any of those guys are a good fight for AJ to come back to,” said Hearn.