To nobody’s suprise, Anthony Joshua has won a 12-round unanimous decision Jermaine Franklin by scores of 118-111 and 117-111 (two times).
Joshua appears glum in his corner, perhaps conscious of the fact that his performance will not frighten Fury, Wilder, Joyce, Anderson, or the other heavyweight contenders.
There’s the bell! And Joshua immediately connects with a crisp jab. The Watford man’s career-high weight cuts an intimidating presence that’s dwarfing his much-smaller American foe, but AJ does look somewhat tentative and tense as this mostly feeling-out round progresses. Joshua continues to score sparingly with the jab behind a tight guard, but any thoughts that Joshua would come out guns blazing have been swiftly dismissed.
Franklin lands an overhand right and Joshua cracks back with a vicious counter. Franklin lands another right hand and Joshua is bleeding heavily from his nose. Joshua lands a big straight right, the best punch of the fight so far. Both men landed solid shots but nothing of major consequence. Joshua just nicks the round on our card, but still looking worryingly stiff while Franklin keeps moving confidently forward. AJ has landed 19 of 65 punches so far (including 11 of 44 jabs), according to Compubox’s punch statistics, compared to nine of 53 for Franklin.
Franklin walks right into a right hand, but keeps moving forward undeterred. Joshua has been more active and keeps landing shots, but the American has made a habit of immediately throwing back. Franklin lands a good inside left hand to the body. Joshua lands a big shot right at the bell, but Franklin walks back to his corner smiling. Another close round but Franklin has done just enough to edge it against Joshua, who looked no more comfortable in the third round than in the previous two.
Joshua enjoys his best round of the fight so far by loosening up and keeping his opponent at distance. He keeps working that powerful jab from the outside, landing it almost at will and swelling Franklin’s right eye. There’s an explosive exchange along the ropes near the end of the round, but Joshua emerges unscathed.
Better from Joshua, who lands a stinging right over the top in the early stages and is starting to let that right hand go more. Franklin has taken AJ’s singular offerings well so far and it’s clearly going to require a sustained attack to get him out of there. Joshua’s jab wins him another uncontroversial round. Opening up the combination punching could close the show before long.
Franklin’s movement has waned over the past couple of rounds, presenting Joshua with a more stationary target. A dangerous game. The Michigan man is struggling more and more to close the distance, paying a cost whenever he tries to slip inside. A valiant effort by the American but another clear round for Joshua, whose jab is winning the day.
More of the same from Joshua, who is winning comfortably behind the jab against an opponent hand-picked to make him look good, but hardly putting fear into the fighters at or near the top of the heavyweight division today.
Joshua is in total control here, pecking away with the jab and using his 20lb weight advantage to grab and hold and lean on Franklin. Does the American have a fight-changing punch left in him?
Joshua’s jab has lost his sting. He’s pawing with it, perhaps waiting for Franklin to walk into a right hand. The round follows what’s become a familiar pattern for two and a half minutes with Joshua boxing effectively until Franklin lands a huge right hand near the end of the round that rocks the Briton and moves him backward. A big moment but the American can’t follow up on it and it’s not enough to undo Joshua’s previous work.
Some genuine two-way action, finally, as the fighters come together for a series of explosive exchanges from bell to bell … with Joshua getting the better of them. Franklin does well to stay upright after eating a bounty of Joshua hooks and uppercuts that land flush.
Joshua hurts Franklin with a body shot. Franklin is hurt! He’s grabbing and holding onto his British foe. Can Joshua finish the job? Franklin lands a sharp counter right. He looked badly hurt moments ago but has found his footing, but he keeps absorbing Joshua blows. Clearly, he will need a knockout in the 12th.
Joshua appears to have Franklin hurt with about a minute to go, but Franklin makes it to the final bell. He’s gone the distance with a former two-time world champion. There’s a bit of a scuffle after the bell – more action than we saw for long stretches of this bout – with both fighters being restrained by their trainers. We’re waiting on the official scorecards. It will surely be a unanimous-decision win for Anthony Joshua, but hardly the statement win that he so desperately needed.