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Anthony Joshua claims unanimous decision win over Jermaine Franklin

Anthony Joshua claims unanimous decision win over Jermaine Franklin
© Reuters
Anthony Joshua picks up his first win for more than two years with a comfortable unanimous points decision victory over American Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena.

Anthony Joshua made a winning return to the ring with a unanimous points victory over Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night.

The former world heavyweight champion was in action for the first time since suffering his second successive defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last year, and controlled much of the fight against his American opponent.

Franklin rarely looked like troubling Joshua, but he proved to be a more stubborn opponent than many expected as the Brit was forced to settle for a points win.

Two judges scored the fight 117-111 and the other had it 118-111 in Joshua's favour, handing the 33-year-old his first win for more than two years, since beating Kubrat Pulev in December 2020.

However, despite a relatively comfortable win, it was not a statement performance from Joshua in his attempt to establish himself back at the top table of heavyweight boxing.

Anthony Joshua in action during his fight against Jermaine Franklin on April 1, 2023© Reuters

"No knockout, so no good. It is a brutal sport, but knockouts are everything. I'm not too happy," Joshua told BBC Sport after the fight.

"I could have thrown more shots, and I should have, no excuses. But I will. That is part of coming back; you have to be your own biggest critic."

The bout was scrappy at times, with Franklin often tying up his opponent when it looked like he might be in some trouble, and frustration boiled over after the final bell with a brief melee between the two teams in the ring.

Joshua's win is the 25th of his professional career, 22 of which have come by way of knockout, and he quickly set his sights on facing Tyson Fury in a blockbuster British showdown next.

"I try and provide for the fans. I know who they want. They said Tyson Fury - the ball is in his court," Joshua added.

Anthony Joshua poses in the ring after winning his fight against Jermaine Franklin on April 1, 2023© Reuters

"I would be honoured to fight for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world. If he's listening, he knows my promoter, we've had dialogue before, so let's continue this. We ain't getting any younger."

Promoter Eddie Hearn also talked up the possibility of making the Fury fight next, telling reporters: "There may be an opportunity to do the Tyson Fury fight next. If it is there, it'll be difficult for AJ not to take it. He may think he will never get it.

"The sensible thing is to have another fight with Derrick James to improve; Dillian Whyte is a great option. The first fight was epic. It is all about timing. Money? Not so much, but he is looking at big fights.

"That was his career on the line and he was apprehensive for that reason."

Franklin, meanwhile, suffered just the second defeat of his 23-fight career, having also lost to Dillian Whyte in November.

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Anthony Joshua at a press conference ahead of his fight with Jermaine Franklin.
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