The Joshua Tree
Anthony Joshua isn’t just a boxer. He’s iconic. He’s an Olympic Icon. He came to represent the UK in Heavyweight glory. He won. The IBF belt. Then the WBA and IBO versions against Wladimir Klitchko – that was a significant scalp.
And he’s more than just that. He’s a brand. Easy going. With a willing smile and a sweet family background. He seems at home talking to people.
And now the Tree image; Anthony Joshua is more than just a boxer, his arms are stretched far and wide through the business of boxing, through the media business, the branches of tree, see?
But recently that hasn’t been easy.
AJ had a few reversals. After wins against Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker, albeit not blasting them out as he had done earlier in his career against other opposition (although his next match, against Alexander Povetkin, was a TKO), but he came up against Andy Ruiz, few expected him to fall.
He did. And he was TKO’d. He came back to avenge that loss against Ruiz, but when he came up against Oleksandr Usyk, he lost. And then lost again. That was bad enough, but his outburst after the 2nd points loss when he took the belts and jumped in to make a rather rambling speech.
And then came the changes of trainer, this time with Derrick King, his 2nd fight with Usyk under Robert Garcia; it seemed like a fighter who was looking for something.
What? Some said. Who? Others said, perhaps unkindly, but then again, his record is devoid of many big names, a loss to Dillian Whyte recently and a split decision to Jerry Forrest. Jerry Forrest…
And why didn’t he call out D.Wilder? Or T.Fury? That would have shown aspiration. But this? Franklin wasn’t a real threat, was he?
So what was this? A tune up fight? Not really. This was more of a rebuilding fight, which some were a little concerned about.
Anthony Joshua didn’t need to rebuild when he was blasting people out of there, did he? So why now? People whispered that Anthony Joshua was going backwards.
Firstly, Joshua won. He continued the boxing style he revealed against Usyk in their second fight; the Joshua jab was apparent from the start, with the right hand behind it which smacked Franklin’s head back in the 2nd round, but Franklin got through with a hard left.
AJ didn’t look menacing, he was far bigger than his opponent, but he didn’t seem keen to let that work for him, sticking to the game plan, slow and steady.
But that gave Franklin renewed heart. By the 4th, when not too troubled by Joshua, he even made him miss through head movement and shouted at him as if to say ‘I’m still here’.
And he was. He took a Joshua right in the next round, took a meaty jab to hit a counter as Joshua landed an overhand right, even got his own jab working in the 7th.
Credit; Manchester Evening News
When AJ put together a rare combination in the next round, the DAZN commentary deemed it ‘brilliant’; it wasn’t, it was a standard combo.
Then comments about a KO started. And in that round, the 9th, engaging happened, Joshua landed the Uppercut he wanted to use all night, Franklin returned with a right, another Joshua uppercut, Franklin didn’t seem happy, Joshua tried another and because his opponent was on the move, it didn’t land well.
The final round saw Franklin holding, through tiredness really and the thought about whether Joshua could get him out of there was raised again; he couldn’t.
Well, immediately a scuffle in the ring and some people have been concerned that this might turn into a post Usyk fight outburst. But Joshua won, so that’s OK, right?
Well, after the fight, Joshua apparently talked of wanting the KO, so this is confusing; does Joshua want to show the new-style boxing work behind the jab, which he certainly seemed to do against Franklin or did he have a hankering to return to his earlier KO King self?
And there’s more. Some are openly suggesting that Joshua might be personally conflicted, not really knowing what he really wants – this would be in keeping with the chopping and changing of trainers.
I’ve heard a piece of Joshua chat about the difficulty of being always on, being a brand, being available. He must be under enormous pressure, plus the pressure he puts on himself; the cover of the last Boxing News is Joshua with hand seemingly on heart with the quote ‘I must do better’.
His trainer Derrick believed AJ did enough, telling DAZN;
“I was happy because he did exactly what I wanted him to do,” James began. People said they wanted him to do this and that, that wasn’t in my plan.’
And if AJ is giving himself a hard time, if he is struggling to find peace in or out of the ring – which we have no real evidence of – his next opponent would be best. As Eddie Hearn told TalkSport;
‘The general feeling is we need another fight, a step up from Franklin, but in order to gel and continue improving with [trainer] Derrick James, we need another fight in the summer of that nature.’
Not D.Wilder. Not T.Fury. D.White. Yes, Dillian.
And the perfect opponent for a boxer beginning to rebuild his boxing game, known but not at the top level, a threat but not too much of a threat. It’s ideal. And why shouldn’t Anthony Joshua come back his own way? Why shouldn’t he take it slowly?
Why not? Social media says.