Former two-time world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will make his ring return against American Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night.
The bout will be the first time in nearly seven years that Joshua, 33, has fought without a world title at stake.
Joshua has not fought since his second straight loss to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in a title rematch in Saudi Arabia last August.
“We can’t look back,” Joshua said this week. “We’re only looking forward and I see a bright future and that kind of keeps me in good spirits.”
When is the fight?
The fight is scheduled for Saturday, April 1.
What time will it start?
Expect the ring walks for the main event to start around 10.30pm, possibly a little later depending on the duration of the undercard fights (see below).
Where is it?
Joshua is fighting at London’s O2 Arena for the first time since 2016. This was the scene of his first world title win over Charles Martin. Joshua’s record at the O2 is 7-0 in his favour.
How can I watch it on TV?
The fight will be shown live and exclusively on American streaming platform DAZN, with whom Joshua signed a five-year partnership.
Joshua vs Franklin will be included in the £9.99 per month DAZN saver subscription, and the app is available on Smart TVs, games consoles, tablets and mobile.
How can I buy tickets?
Tickets are still available via Matchroom and the O2 website using this link. Seats start at £117.
Where the fight will be won and lost
Heavyweights do not have to cut weight, but with Joshua (255.4lbs) at his career-heaviest indicates that the two-time former world champion from London is looking to have a short, powerful performance looking to get the job done early. Conversely, Franklin (234.12 lbs) is much lighter than for his contest against Dillian Whyte last November (Franklin’s only defeat, on points, in his 22-fight career) and will favour taking the fight longer and gaining inroads against a fatiguing AJ.
In that respect, the risk AJ’s team are taking is that he is going for an early stoppage; if Franklin survives early onslaughts, the underdog may gain in confidence and become a thorn in the home fighter’s side.
Franklin is not the quickest with his footwork, and could be described as a plodder, but he has fast hands. His lightness and fitness may give him more opportunity to move out of range, and his trainer Jesse Addison told Telegraph Sport he has been working on his footwork and agility in this camp in Hollywood, Florida.
Franklin will have watched how Andy Ruiz threw his hands in exchanges with Joshua, and is banking on exposing the weaknesses AJ had that night in New York in 2019 when the Briton suffered his first defeat. Franklin will let his fast hands go in time with Joshua if he can get inside.
Joshua, after using his jab to establish range early, will look to unleash his left-right and left hook combinations – and uppercuts inside – if he can get his foe into the corners. Joshua said this week that he believes he will stop Franklin in the 10th round, yet conventional wisdom given his weight and the jeopardy in this contest mean that Joshua will try and walk Franklin down and is unlikely to sit back.
The perfect result for Joshua would be a finish inside four of five rounds, poleaxing or demolishing the American with a combination finish.
Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin prediction
Joshua is a huge favourite, for good reason. Upsets do happen, especially in heavyweight boxing, where one punch can change everything, scuppering reputations and ability. Franklin has to be given a puncher’s chance.
I see Joshua giving Franklin big, booming problems with both his hands and his presence. What is inside Joshua’s head will count, but he must know deep down that nothing less than destruction will not satisfy the watching world, his promoters, and DAZN, his broadcast partners.
Joshua will throw hard, and will, in my view, stop his American foe early, between four to seven rounds. AJ will not want to go any longer. No one gets paid for overtime in boxing.