Life and death situation for Anthony Joshua but win will set up Tyson Fury fight


Joshua looking to return with a bang against Jermaine Franklin (Picture: Getty)

In his latest column, former Olympian and heavyweight contender Frazer Clarke looks ahead to a must-win fight for Anthony Joshua against Jermaine Franklin this weekend and what could lie ahead for his old training partner.

All or nothing for AJ

It’s fair to call this an all or nothing fight for Anthony Joshua. It has been back-to-back defeats for him and in any fighter’s career at that top level, that can spell disaster. But with AJ being the draw he is and being a very important figure in the world of boxing, of course he can still redeem himself.

We can’t forget he boxed one of the best fighters in the world in Oleksandr Usyk twice on the bounce and improved a lot in that second fight. He will be looking at it as a life and death situation. He will feel he needs to make a statement and be obliged to box well. If he does that and impresses new trainer Derrick James in the process, it will be a statement. 

I don’t buy into some of the talk that his star is falling or that his status as a true star of British boxing is declining. Yes, he had the defeats to Usyk and we can’t forget about that bad night against Andy Ruiz Jr four years ago either.

But other than that, if you look for some of the most exciting boxing nights in the country over the last few years, Anthony Joshua has been at the centre of them.

Anthony took himself out of his comfort zone to relocate his camp to Texas. New surroundings can work in one or two ways, it can work out great but there are occasions when it turns into a bit of a nightmare.

Anthony Joshua v Jermaine Franklin

Franklin has lost one of his 22 bouts (Picture: Getty)

But I have been speaking to him and it seems like he is in a great place, he seems to have great respect for Derrick James and what he has done and I think he has listened and learned. We hope he can carry out what he has learned on Saturday.

Early KO prediction

It feels like he is ready to do something big. He wants to prove people wrong which is a natural thing. A lot of people have questioned him, questioned his future and questioned what he has left in this sport. He always looks in great shape but when I look at him now and the way he is speaking, you expect him to show there is still life in life in him yet.

We saw Jermaine Franklin come to London last year and give Dillian Whyte problems. But I think Joshua deals with those problems. AJ hits a lot harder than Dillian and technically he is a lot better.

I think he will end it within three or four rounds, maybe even earlier. As soon as he catches him we’ll know. The size and weight difference just can’t be ignored either. Franklin looks really small next to him, not to take anything away from him but this AJ has got the bit between his teeth again. He is dangerous.

Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev - IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight

Joshua needs to show his ruthless edge again (Picture: Getty)

We still need Fury vs Joshua

Get the win on Saturday and things look very bright again. If the Tyson Fury fight is available, it has got to be that. Both have got to take it with both hands. The Whyte rematch in a stadium this summer is massive but surely everyone involved with be looking at the Fury fight again if the Usyk fight is dead for now.  

I have no doubts Joshua would want it straight away. It’s been a tough few weeks for the sport but there is a lot we can learn from what happened with Fury and Usyk. Making negotiations public is a no-no. Get it done properly and shock us all for once by getting it done quickly with a date, a time and a place.

It would pick the sport up. It can’t be on and off, we can’t do that again. We have to be all in Just get it on boys! You are two fine athletes, two great people who have done a lot for other boxers, everyday people and everyday life.

Joshua vs Fury could be back on… and we need it to happen (Picture: Getty)

The only way to settle is it to box because we don’t know who is the best out there. People are asking me all the time, who is the best heavyweight on the planet? I have got no answer for them because none of them fight each other. So let’s put a line under it all.

There have been too many games so far this year but now we have the chance to make it right. If we get these to do it, it the rest will follow suit.

Moving in right direction after Bogdan Dinu win

It was job done on Saturday against Bogan Dinu in Manchester. The cut I suffered of course wasn’t ideal but it was another win and another step in the right direction.

My performance was better and it came against a good opponent – I don’t know why anyone could be complaining about the level or quality of my opponent this time, the timing for that fight was perfect.

Now it is about keeping the momentum I have started this year with and building on it. Ideally, I would have liked a few more rounds but I can’t complain over the early stoppage.

The only negative was the cut on my forehead following the clash of heads. It’s a bit early too judge the damage on that, if we can get another fight for May then we definitely will do that but it was a bad cut, a deep one, and it needs to heal properly.

MORE : Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua stepped back from being a hero to focus on knocking out Jermaine Franklin

MORE : ‘He is digging his own grave’ – Anthony Joshua issues chilling warning to Jermaine Franklin and takes swipe at Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk

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