Joshua must KO Franklin early to restore his psychological wellbeing

By Boxing News - 02/06/2023 - Comments

By Craig Daly: Anthony Joshua’s confidence level is shot at this point, making it vital that he score an early knockout of Jermaine Franklin for their announced fight on April 1st at the O2 Arena in London, England.

According to Spencer Oliver, it won’t help former two-time heavyweight champion Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) to get in the trenches to get rounds in against Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) because he’s already got a lot of experience in fights going rounds.

What Joshua needs most of all is to score an early KO,  which he hasn’t done since his third round knockout victory over journeyman Eric Molina in 2016.

That was seven years ago, and that’s a long break between early knockouts for Joshua, who used routinely stopped his opponents in the first half of his ten-year professional career.

Joshua vs. Franklin = good fight

“I think it’s a good fight for Joshua. Jermaine Franklin was an unknown quantity when he boxed Dillian Whyte in November when he came over,” said Spencer Oliver to iFL TV, reaching to the official announcement today of the Anthony Joshua vs. Jermaine Frankin fight on April 1st at the O2 Arena in London.

“People thought Dillian Whyte was going to blow him away, and he proved a tough customer. People thought he may have even nicked that fight against Dillian Whyte. It was razor-tight anyway. So he [Franklin] comes with some credentials, and he’s got some ambition.

“His only loss was to Dillian Whyte, although there are no real names on his record. So we didn’t know too much about him, but from what we saw in November, he’s a tough customer, and he has a lot of ambition, and he’ll see this as a massive opportunity against Anthony Joshua, who is coming off those two losses against Oleksandr Usyk.

“I think it’s a good fight to come back to. I know the public probably won’t give Joshua the credit for this opponent. They wanted to see him against a more recognizable name. They would have liked to have seen the Dillian Whyte rematch or something like that.

“I don’t think it’s a bad fight.  You’ve got to allow Joshua that. He’s teamed up with Derrick James.  He’s over in America, he’s working on new things, he wants to become a three-time heavyweight champion, and this is the first step back.

“Confidence is a massive thing within a boxer, and Anthony Joshua is lacking that confidence at the moment. He needs this fight, he needs to win, and he needs to win in style to regain some of that confidence if he’s going to get some of that confidence if he’s to get himself back into that title mix,” Oliver said.

Franklin will bring it

“Jermaine is going to bring it; I think he showed that against Dillian Whyte,” Oliver continued. “He’s a tough customer. Dillian Whyte, as we know, is very heavy-handed, and Jermaine took some big shots there, and he come straight back. The kid has got heart, and as I say, he’s got ambition.

“He’s got that winners mentality, and that makes him dangerous against someone like Joshua, who is coming off the two losses to Oleksandr Usyk, so his confidence is at a low. So when you weigh it all up, it’s about the opportunity, and this is a massive opportunity for Franklin, and he’ll feel he’s got Joshua at the right time.

“It’s a must-win fight for Anthony Joshua as well. He needs to not only win but look good doing it. Yeah, it’s an interesting one, it’s interesting, yes, it is. I think when I saw it, I thought, ‘Okay, that’s a good opponent for Joshua. It’s going to be an interesting one for Joshua on April the 1st, and let’s see if he can regain some of that confidence.

“He needs to find the confidence that he had when he boxed Klitschko back in 2017 when he had that rawness. There was something about him. He rolled the dice and took everything to him because when he boxed Oleksandr [he lacked confidence],” Spencer said.

AJ needs to turn back the clock

“If that Joshua that boxed Klitschko boxed Usyk, then we may have had a different outcome,” said Oliver. “But by the time he boxed Usyk, he had that loss to Andy Ruiz, and the confidence had been damaged. You could see that he was a little bit hesitant, and he allowed Usyk the time and the space that he needed to get off with his shots.

“Joshua needs to regain that rawness that once took him to a world heavyweight title, and I think that if he can find that, I think he puts himself back in the mix. If he can’t, it’s going to be a tough road back.

“Definitely, there are no two ways about that,” Oliver said when asked if Joshua’s loss to Ruiz in June 2019 in New York may have damaged him psychologically. You can see the psychological damage in the performances after that.

“Even in the second Andy Ruiz fight, he boxed under instructions and had to do to beat Ruiz, who admittingly turned up in terrible shape. Joshua had to go in there with the demons of having been knocked out in the fight before,” said Oliver.

Can AJ’s psychological damage be repaired?

“That’s the million-dollar question. Can that psychological damage be repaired?” said Spencer. “When you look through the history of the sport, some fighters get knocked out, and they come back, and they still have that rawness about them, and other fighters get psychologically damaged. That’s a tough thing to overcome.

“How does he overcome it? I always think there’s a missing piece of the jigsaw since that loss. Joshua took himself on the road, and he was looking for a new trainer, and he hadn’t felt really conformable with the team around him.

“To get that confidence back, he needs to feel totally confident with the team around him, and that’s what we’ll find out with Derrick James. Whether he can bring that to Joshua and reinstall that confidence needed; otherwise, it’s going to be a really tough road.

“I hope so.  I think that the Joshua I know could stop Jermaine Franklin, but it depends on how he approaches the fight. I think he needs to be more spiteful with his attacks and take the chance. Take the opportunity when it’s there,” said Oliver.

Early knockout important for Joshua

“Don’t be too hesitant. You’d be stupid not to pick Joshua, but Franklin is a live opponent,” said Oliver. “I think he proved that against Dillian Whyte, and he’ll be coming with confidence, and he’ll be seeing it as a massive opportunity, and that makes him dangerous.

“Joshua has the experience now. It’s all about confidence. It’s all about the psychosocial side of things, the mental side of things. That plays a huge part in boxing. Joshua, that’s what’s missing from his game at the moment.

“I don’t think he totally believes in himself. That psychological damage that we’ve talked about has been done, and that needs to be repaired. I think a first or a second round knockout would help him along the way as opposed to getting taken into the trenches a little bit and rounds under his belt.

“It’s not about rounds under his belt. Oleksandr Usyk, the fighter he lost last time on a split decision on the scorecards, although we saw that Usyk run away with it in the last three or four rounds.

“It’s not like he needs the rounds. I think it’s the psychological side of things, the mental side, that needs repairing. That’s what I think it is, and I think an early knockout would help  Joshua. That’s the way I see it.

“I know what he’s saying, but I understand the business side of things with Anthony Joshua, and I understand the rebuilding process with Joshua,” Oliver said about Dillian Whyte complaining that he should have been the opponent for AJ on April 1st instead of Franklin and that he would have been better off losing to Jermaine last November because then maybe he’d be the one getting the fight.

“I believe that if Dillian Whyte would have lost the fight, then Jermaine Franklin would [still] be getting the job off the back of beating Dillian Whyte.

“His style is always going to be a tough fight for Anthony Joshua, and at this stage of his career, he needs a rebuilding process as opposed to potentially a career-threatening loss to Dillian Whyte.

“I believe the Dillian Whyte fight will happen in the summer, but I understand why they chose Jermaine Franklin first.  For the rebuilding side of things, he was the obvious opponent,” said Oliver.

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