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Anthony Joshua must be more aggressive against Jermaine Franklin or risk his career

Anthony Joshua

Former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 24-3 (22) must knock out Jermaine Franklin 21-1 (14) is he is to have any chance of salvaging his career.

That is the opinion of retired former WBC, WBA and WBO cruiserweight champion David Haye.

American Franklin, 29, is coming off a majority decision loss to perennial contender Dillian Whyte 29-3 (19) last November.

Although far from disgraced in that bout, Franklin is seen as a step down for Joshua, who has been fighting at the top level for the past six years.

It was reported this week that Franklin will face Joshua at London’s O2 Arena on April 1.

“He should beat Jermaine Franklin. It was a good fight he gave Dillian Whyte, so he’s shown he has some skills, he’s shown he’s got a nice jab and some good head movement,” Haye told Pro Boxing Fans.

“But if AJ can’t blast him out of there in three or four rounds, then he’s doing something wrong. He’s so much bigger and stronger, so much more athletic and punches so much harder – and he’s an Olympic gold medallist.”

The last time Joshua tried to box with a pure boxer didn’t turn out so well. The 33-year-old Brit lost a unanimous decision and his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to undefeated Ukrainian southpaw Oleksandr Usyk 20-0 (13) in September 2021.

Joshua performed better in their immediate rematch a year later despite dropping a split decision when he took a more aggressive approach.

“He’s got everything in his favour, he just needs to go out there and let his hands go,” Haye continued. “If he goes out there and tries to have a boxing match with him then he will have a hard time because the guy is quite a tricky little boxer.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has remained coy about the potential bout with Franklin, playing his cards close to his chest.

“I think Jermaine Franklin is a great fight. Nothing’s signed or agreed yet, but Franklin’s just come off the back of a very close fight with Dillian Whyte, and some people felt like he won that fight,” the Matchroom Boxing boss told Boxing Social.

“I’ve seen the majority of responses from sane people on social media, who are saying, ‘that’s a good fight to come back to.’ I just don’t understand some people’s criticism of AJ. He’s just fought Oleksandr Usyk twice.

“If he fights Demsey Mckean, Otto Wallin or Jermaine Franklin – I don’t understand what more people want. He’s coming back, working with a new trainer and getting a foothold in the heavyweight division.

“Jermaine Franklin is a dangerous fight, he’s full of confidence and coming off a great performance against Dillain Whyte.”

Hearn has previously outlined plans for Joshua to fight three times this year, potentially against Franklin, Whyte and former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42).