Wednesday, March 29, 2023

By George Sessions, PA

Anthony Joshua has laughed off Jermaine Franklin’s threat of a knockout on Saturday and insisted this is the “worst time” to face him.

The former heavyweight champion will make his long-awaited return to the ring this weekend at the O2 Arena but for the first time since 2015 no world title is on the line.

Joshua is looking to bounce back following consecutive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk and he faced his American opponent on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference in Portland Square.

“It is the worst time to face me,” Joshua said.

“The more he talks, the bigger grave he digs for himself but it is what it is. I could say a lot of things about him but I respect my opponent.

“It is not for me to talk, it is for you to do all the talking and for me to do my job on Saturday. That is really honestly what I am focused on from round one to round 12.

“I am prepared for a 12-rounder but I do believe in my ability, my counter-punching and all that type of stuff to definitely put a dent in Jermaine.

“But I am not here to talk, I am here to do what I have to do because I really want to win.”

Joshua (24-3, 22KOs) has changed trainers ahead of this fight, with Robert Garcia ditched in favour of Derrick James, who housed the Briton at his World Class Boxing Gym in Dallas over the winter.

While the two-time heavyweight champion has 22 knockouts on his record, he was adamant entertaining his home crowd was not a motivation ahead of Saturday’s clash in London.

He instead insisted it was simply great to be back in the ring after watching rivals Tyson Fury and Usyk recently fail to arrange a unification clash.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury’s proposed unification bout fell through. Photo: PA.

“In terms of entertaining, we don’t play boxing, but at the same time people from years back and the empires, they love people coming together and fighting,” the Finchley boxer added.

“There will be entertainment regardless. I think we will see blood and I just really look forward to getting in there again.

“I’m so happy I’m fighting again because when you look at the champions now, it is just a shambles when you are trying to compete with mandatories and negotiations.

“Honestly I can’t believe no fights have been made at championship level.

“I am so happy I can get back to work, get on with my job and I am looking forward to this assignment. I can’t wait honestly. I am really looking forward to it.”

Franklin (21-1, 14KOs) lost narrowly to Dillian Whyte at Wembley Arena in November but juggled preparing for that fight with work commitments and promised a better version to walk out at the O2 on Saturday.

He said: “In the beginning I was on a health journey, changed my habits, changed stuff I was consuming and my body weight has just started falling off.

“I’m more ready, I’m more in shape and I’m ready to let the fireworks go.

“I will get the win by any means possible, but if I can put him on his a***, that’s what I’m going to do.

“Anything is possible. I come from a place where there are not a lot of possibilities and I made it this far so anything is possible.”

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