I will retire if defeated by Jermaine Franklin, says Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua, the former world heavyweight champion, has warned he will retire if he loses to Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on Saturday but insisted he was concentrating on victory and a possible crack at arch rival Tyson Fury this summer.
Franklin. 29, who is ranked 34th in the world, vowed on Wednesday he would put Joshua “on his ass” this weekend. That prompted his 33-year-old opponent to say that the American had “dug a grave for himself” with such a boast, although Franklin is no pushover, having lost just once in his 22-fight career, last November on points to Joshua’s fellow Londoner Dillian Whyte.
The big prize for Joshua could be a blockbuster fight with Fury in the late summer, with the UK or even the Middle East possible venues for the contest. The fight has been tabled twice in the last 30 months, only to collapse.
For Joshua, the prospect of testing himself against Fury, rated the No 1 heavyweight in the world, whets his appetite. “That would be an honour, honestly,” said Joshua. “[To face] the WBC [World Boxing Council] heavyweight champion of the world, to be able to compete for the title again in the summer. I would love that opportunity. If you’re asking me, yes, I would take the opportunity for sure.
“I will retire if I lose. I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire I will retire. I’m not going to fight if people don’t want me too. It’s not even about the money. It’s about the competitor in you. That’s what’s important. Pressure comes with the business and it comes with the territory, I know that.”
‘I am so happy I’m fighting again – l looking at the champions, it’s just a shambles’
Joshua’s 12 title fights include two demoralising defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022, but after spending time at a camp in Dallas under new trainer Derrick James, which the fighter described as “old school” and “torture” his confidence and hunger is back.
“I am so happy I’m fighting again,” said Joshua. “Looking at the champions, it’s just a shambles” – a pointed comment at the inability of boxing's power brokers to arrange an undisputed heavyweight title contest between Usyk and Fury.
“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.
“It’s the worst time to be fighting me. The more he [Franklin] talks the bigger grave he digs for himself. I’m prepared for a 12-rounder but I do believe in my ability and my counter-punching to put a dent in Jermaine.”
Promotor Eddie Hearn is promising a return to major nights and stadium fights for Joshua if he wins. That is music to the ears of Joshua who said: “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. The goal is to take him [Franklin] out.”
Joshua’s trainer Derrick James conceded that Franklin is “a very tough fighter” but added: “I don’t really care how we get the win – we just want the win.”
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