Joshua says now is the ‘worst time’ for Franklin to fight him
Briton Anthony Joshua said now is “the worst time” to fight him and described the current heavyweight landscape as a “shambles”.
The 33-year-old faces American Jermaine Franklin at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday.
Joshua has been out of the ring since losing a rematch with unified champion Oleksandr Usyk in August.
“I am so happy I’m fighting again,” he said. “Looking at the champions, it’s just a shambles.”
Joshua, referring to an undisputed fight between Usyk and Tyson Fury falling through, added: “When you’re trying to compete, all the mandatories and negotiations, I just can’t believe no fights have been made at a championship level.
“I’m just so happy I can get back to work and get on with my job.”
‘The more he talks, the bigger grave he digs’
On Saturday, Joshua will return to the O2 Arena, where he made his professional debut in 2013 after winning super-heavyweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
But with Joshua’s record now showing three losses in his previous five fights, Franklin suggested now is the best time to step into the ring with the Londoner.
“It’s the worst time [to fight me],” Joshua responded at Wednesday’s news conference in London.
“The more he talks the bigger grave he digs for himself. I could say a lot of things about him, but I respect my opponent.”I’m prepared for a 12-rounder but I do believe in my ability and my counter-punching to put a dent in Jermaine.”
Joshua said promoter Eddie Hearn is “dangling a carrot” of bigger fights if he overcomes Franklin.
“I dream big, and I want bigger and better things in my life. I want to secure the bag and move on with my life.”
I just care we win – Joshua trainer
Joshua said “the goal is to take him [Franklin] out”, but his trainer Derrick James is expecting a tougher night’s work.
“Jermaine Franklin is a very tough fighter,” James said. “I don’t really care how we get it, I just care we get it. Or if it gets to a point where I can see it, let’s go get it.”
Joshua based his training camp in Texas, USA, after linking up with James, who also trains world champion Errol Spence Jr and twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo.
“It’s always about what you’re willing to give up to be successful,” said James. “Everybody is working hard, but not everybody is willing to give up something.”
I’ve been on a health journey – Franklin
Franklin, 29, has won 21 fights with his sole defeat at the hands of Briton Dillian Whyte.
He said he is in better physical shape since the close points loss in November.
“I’ve been on a health journey. Changed my eating habits, changed stuff I was consuming. Body weight just started falling off.
“We had more time to prepare for this fight so I am more ready, I’m more in shape and ready for the fireworks to go.”
In response, Joshua said: “I think he’s dealing with someone who has been living right from the get-go.
“I’ve been putting in work from the day I started this business. It’s going to be a good fight, but he’s up against a real one.”
Joshua matter of fact with career on the line – analysis
A luxurious five star hotel in London’s Marylebone was the setting for Wednesday’s news conference.
Joshua’s demeanour and body language are often analysed during his fight week media obligations, his words scrutinised.
Fans and pundits felt he was too quiet in the build-up to the Usyk rematch, overshadowed by his opponent’s singing performance. There was much speculation about his state of mind, whether the scars of the first defeat still smarted.
Joshua has sold out the O2 Arena on several occasions, but there are still a couple of hundred tickets remaining for Saturday’s event, leading some to question whether his popularity has dwindled.
Going by the media attendance, his star appeal – while perhaps not what it once was – is still strong. And at the earlier undercard news conference, fighters talked of the privilege and honour of fighting at a Joshua event.
A win against Franklin could set up a Fury fight, if it can be negotiated. But the pressure is firmly on Joshua. On Saturday night, his career may just be on the line. It is difficult to see how he could recover from a third straight defeat, this time against a man who is not considered elite world level.
This article was reported by NBC