Anthony Joshua will face American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Joshua agrees a deal to face American Jermaine Franklin at the O2 in April… as he returns to the ring knowing he HAS to win after successive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk

  • Anthony Joshua has agreed to face Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in April
  • Joshua has not fought since his second-successive defeat by Oleksandr Usyk
  • He had been linked to Australian boxer Demsey McKean but will fight Franklin  

Anthony Joshua has agreed a deal to face American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on April 1, Sportsmail can exclusively reveal.

Joshua has not stepped foot in the ring since his second-successive defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in August 2022 – having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF belts to the Ukrainian in September 2021. 

But Joshua will face Franklin – who trained alongside Tyson Fury in the build-up to his showdown with Dillian Whyte in November 2022 – in a must-win fight as he looks to work his way back to the top of the heavyweight division.

Anthony Joshua (left) will face Jermaine Franklin (right) when he returns to the ring in April

Joshua and Franklin have agreed on the financials for the fight and will sign the final paperwork later on Monday afternoon.

The fight between the two heavyweight boxers will take place in London at the O2 Arena on April 1.

Joshua will be looking to reassert his dominance in the heavyweight division, while Franklin will be looking to bounce back from his defeat by Whyte in November 2022.

Joshua (right) suffered a second-straight defeat by Usyk (left) in August (above), having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF belts to the Ukrainian in September 2021 

Joshua looked set to face Fury in December but negotiations between the two British boxers collapsed in October after the Gypsy King grew frustrated with how long AJ’s team were taking to sign the contract.

AJ was disappointed to see the deal fall through as they had made good progress – having agreed on the financial terms of the fight, splitting the purse 60/40 in the favour of the WBC champion.

The pair had also named the Principality Stadium in Cardiff as the chosen location and agreed on the TV rights – which were said to be stumbling block. However, it wasn’t meant to be. 

AJ was then linked to unbeaten Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean as the southpaw called for the fight after he won the IBF Intercontinental heavyweight belt last October. 

He will face Franklin (right) – who went toe-to-toe with Dillian Whyte (left) in November 2022

Eddie Hearn (right) and Joshua (left) were ringside for the fight between Franklin and Whyte

Franklin went toe-to-toe with Whyte in November 2022 but the British boxer emerged victorious with a majority decision after their 12-round contest at Wembley Arena. 

Franklin (left) trained alongside Fury (middle) ahead of his clash with Dillian Whyte

Franklin felt as though he had been ‘robbed’ – with Michael Alexander scoring their bout level at 115-115 while Juergen Landos and Grzegorz Molenda scored the fight 116-112 in favour of Whyte. 

Franklin is eager to prove himself against Joshua and promoter Dmitriy Salita is confident he can pull off an upset. 

‘Joshua, coming off two losses, changing trainers, is vulnerable,’ Salita previously said.

‘Let’s be honest. Jermaine realises it. He feels like he has his own future and path. He’s ready to go out there and score the upset. Some feel like it could be an upset, and some don’t.

‘But Jermaine’s going out there looking to score the win. 

‘After, he wants the rematch with Dillian Whyte, and then he wants to fight the winner of [Tyson] Fury vs. Usyk.’

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