By Jack Tiernan: Anthony Joshua’s opponent Jermaine Franklin is the ideal warm-up opponent to give him a little confidence booster to get him ready for an essential rematch with Dillian Whyte in the summer stadium fight in London.
After former unified heavyweight champion Joshua’s back-to-back crushing losses to Oleksandr Usyk, he needs an opponent that can boost his confidence while at the same time helping him prepare for his long-awaited rematch with Whyte, according to Adam Catterall.
It’s been eight years since Joshua fought Whyte in December 2015, stopping him in the seventh round in an entertaining battle at the O2 AArena in London.
A lot has changed for the worst for both fighters, as Whyte, 34, has arguably lost three out of his last four fights, and his career is on the brink of extinction, going the same of fellow Brit Derek Chisora.
For his part, Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) has lost three out of his last five fights, and he’s looking shot to bits at 33.
Things had gotten so bad for Joshua that he’s dumped two trainers and is on his third, with him teaming up with American coach Derrick James in hopes he can find the magic formula to resurrect the promising fighter he’d been eight years ago when he wiped out Dillian.
Joshua-Franklin = AJ’s warmup for Whyte
“I think this is a warm-up for Dillian Whyte. That’s how I think this is going to go,” said Adam Catterall to talkSPORT Boxing about Anthony Joshua’s April 1st fight against Jermaine Franklin.
“This is the confidence builder, the one that gives the eye of the tiger back, and then I think he finds himself fighting Dillian Whyte,” Catterall continued.
“Absolutely not [Joshua can’t afford to lose]. In fact, he’s expected to do something quite devastating. This is supposed to be Anthony Joshua 3.0, and he’s expected to go into the ring against Jermaine Franklin and show the things that we originally fell in love with Anthony Joshua for.
Joshua must knockout Franklin
“He has to go in and take this guy out. It’s not pity patter behind the jab, with all due respect,” said Catterall. “It’s not fighting behind the jab, trying to break them down behind the jab systemically to take them out later in the fight.
“People are expecting fireworks; they’re expecting an explosion. He’s talking that way. The team-up with Derrick James kind of insinuates that’s the way it’s going to be, and I’m excited that, hopefully, we’re going to get to see the old AJ back.
“We’re talking about a guy that is a top 30 heavyweight. So for me, if you’re a two-time former heavyweight champion of the world, you’re at a certain level,” Adam said.
AJ needs a confidence builder
“Anthony Joshua, no matter what anyone thinks of him right now,” said Catterall. “If you were to name the top 5 heavyweights that are active right now, he would be one of the names that you name.
“So, for me, if you need to have a comeback fight, fine. If you need to rebuild confidence, fine. But you can comfortably do that against a top 10 or a top 15.
“When the dust settles, do we say, ‘Anthony Joshua is back,’ or do we all say, ‘I expected that. Now we need to see him answer some new questions when he faces top-level opposition.
“Franklin is good; there’s no doubt about it. He’s got fast hands; he’s a good boxer. We saw that against Dillian Whyte, but Anthony Joshua knocked out Dillian Whyte years ago. So I’m fully expecting Anthony Joshua to do a job on this level of opponent,” said Catterall.