At last, Anthony Joshua returns to the ring

At last, Anthony Joshua returns to the ring
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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

After successive defeats in the hands of Ukraine’s Olelsandr Usyk, the latest being last August, Anthony Joshua is returning to the ring to fight American heavywight Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on 1 April.

He had earlier turned down a title fight with Tyson Fury, the holder of the WBC belt. Joshua had earlier lost his three belts – WBA, WBO and IBF to the Ukrainian in September 2021 and failed in the bid to regain them last August.

But Joshua will face Franklin – who trained alongside Tyson Fury in the build-up to the former’s  showdown with Dillian Whyte in November 2022.

For Jishua, this is a must-win fight as he looks to work his way back to the top of the heavyweight division.

Joshua and Franklin haJoshua (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 2021ve agreed on the financials for the fight and will sign the final paperwork later on Monday afternoon.

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 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. 

However, Sportsmail can confirm that Joshua has agreed a deal to face Franklin at the O2 Arena on April 1 instead. 

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 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. 

Therefore, Franklin will be back with a vengeance when he face Joshua at the O2 Arena on April 1. 

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