Home Boxing News Eddie Hearn: “This is the most exciting stage of Anthony Joshua’s career”

Eddie Hearn: “This is the most exciting stage of Anthony Joshua’s career”

Eddie Hearn with Anthony Joshua. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 24-3 (22) still has plenty to give in the third stage of his career.

Joshua burst onto the scene a decade ago and was fast-tracked to a world title shot, winning the IBF belt from Charles Martin in a two-round blowout just two-and-a-half years into his pro career.

After six defences of the crown including unification bouts against Wladimir Klitschko and Joseph Parker that saw him collect the WBA and WBO baubles respectively, Joshua ran into a determined Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019, losing his three belts by seventh-round knockout.

Joshua got his revenge in their immediate rematch six months later, reclaiming his three belts by virtual shutout.

A ninth-round knockout victory over Kubrat Pulev was followed by back-to-back decision losses to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Now 33, Joshua is looking to rebuild again against Jermaine Franklin 21-1 (14) at the O2 Arena in London, England on April 1 with new trainer Derrick James in his corner.

“This is honestly the most exciting stage of his career for me. I know to a lot of people it’s hype, but it is because, in many corners, he’s been written off. It’s unbelievable,” Hearn said on Matchroom Boxing’s YouTube channel.

“The resume and the run of fights that he’s had. On the one hand, ‘He’s finished,’ and on the one hand, ‘The AJ train is over,’ and then on the other hand, Jermaine Franklin is supposedly an easy fight.

“On one hand, ‘Jermaine Franklin beat Dillian Whyte,’ and on the other hand, ‘AJ will knock him out early.’ This is a really difficult fight to come back to. Jermaine Franklin is full of confidence coming off the Dillian Whyte performance… This is a really good fight for AJ to come back to.

“For me, this is a really exciting run for AJ’s career, a new training team out in Texas. He’s in a great place. He’s ready to launch his attack on the heavyweight division all over again, but he had a very tough night’s work on April 1st.

“We had a lot of fighters in the mix. Dempsy McKean, Otto Wallin. Really, it came down to the style. AJ is coming off the back of two fights against a southpaw, the best southpaw in boxing in Oleksandr Usyk, and wanted an orthodox fighter with the training team.

“The training team said, ‘Look, if we’re going to fight [Deontay] Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury, there’s really no point in us going back and fight a southpaw. So we want you to showcase everything you’ve been working on with us, and we feel you should do that against an orthodox fighter.’

“Obviously the fight Jermaine had with Dillian Whyte was a great maker for us to see where we’re at. We know he’s a world class heavyweight. There’s no dispute in that and he got the nod. He’s very relevant.

“He’s been active off the back of the Dillian Whyte fight. The UK fans know who he is and he’s a talented fighter.

“One of the reasons why I’m so excited about this new chapter for AJ is that new fresh look and I think he’s going to come back with plenty of energy, really excited and super sharp.”

Not everyone is as excited as Hearn though. Soctland’s most successful boxing coach Billy Nelson believes Joshua’s career plateaued.

“In the first fight against Usyk he was very apprehensive, he was even more apprehensive in the second fight so there’s going to be elements of doubt there and concerns heading into the ring,” Nelson told iFL TV.

“And he’s put himself under a little bit of pressure as well because he did an interview after the Whyte and Franklin fight saying that Whyte should have knocked him out. So, if he can’t knock him out, why shouldn’t others be able to knock Franklin out?

“Anthony Joshua can knock any man out on the planet, he’s very powerful but it’s about whether he can take it back now. That’s my concern.”