Joshua warned career will be over if he doesn’t ‘starch’ Franklin

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The pressure is mounting on Anthony Joshua coming into his comeback fight on April 1. The Brit is expected to box ex-Dillian Whyte foe Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in London and can’t afford to slip up.

Former cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew sees the fight as ‘make or break’ for AJ with few options left if he fails to beat the American. A loss to Franklin, who isn’t ranked within the divisional top 10, would be catastrophic for Joshua’s world title aspirations and Bellew believes the Watford powerhouse must ‘starch’ his adversary to prove he is worthy of another run at heavyweight gold.

“This is a make-or-break fight, a career-defining fight,” Bellew told talkSPORT. This is one where against Usyk he was going in against the best and against the best you can win some and you can lose some, but when you’re going in against the likes of Jermaine Franklin, you’ve got to starch him. You’ve got to take his head off.”

Following back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua now finds himself in the rebuilding phase of his career. Promoter Eddie Hearn has set out a three-fight plan for 2023 that he will be hoping can kickstart the two-time heavyweight champion’s charge back to the top.

Franklin is understood to be the nailed-on opponent for his first fight back, followed by a clash with fierce rival Whyte in June and then a blockbuster showdown with either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury to close out the year.

But none of this will be possible if he doesn’t impress in the spring and Hearn is all too aware of that fact. “This is the most excited I’ve been on Anthony Joshua’s journey so far because I think it’s exciting,” Hearn told iFL TV. “You go into that fight in April – you know that with defeat, it’s all over, really. It would be a third back-to-back defeat.


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“And yet a great performance and a showreel knockout gets everyone saying, ‘We’re back, we’re back baby.’ That’s what I can’t wait for, because I love it when our backs are against the wall. That’s the best moments and this is one of those moments for AJ.”

Joshua vs Franklin is yet to be announced to the public although it is expected that it will be made official in the coming days.

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