Jermaine Franklin has secured another opportunity to try to ruin Dillian Whyte’s plans.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Franklin and former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua have agreed to terms for an April 1 bout at O2 Arena in London. The Daily Mail, a London tabloid, first reported that the Joshua-Franklin fight is set.
Franklin, who nearly upset Whyte on November 26, became the frontrunner for Joshua’s return to the ring in recent weeks. Australia’s Demsey McKean (22-0, 14 KOs) and Sweden’s Otto Wallin (24-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) were among the potential opponents who previously received consideration.
Joshua and Whyte are expected to fight later this year if Joshua defeats Franklin and Whyte beats an opponent to be determined in his next appearance.
The 33-year-old Joshua is favored in their 12-round bout, but Franklin’s performance against Whyte legitimized him as a heavyweight contender. The 29-year-old Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), of Saginaw, Michigan, pushed Whyte in their 12-rounder, which was Whyte’s first action since WBC champion Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) stopped him in the sixth round of their title fight last April 23 at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.
Whyte won by the same score, 116-112, on two scorecards at OVO Arena Wembley in London. The other judge scored Whyte-Franklin even, 115-115.
London’s Whyte wasn’t interested in a rematch, but Franklin landed an even bigger fight based on how he looked with Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs).
Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), of Watford, England, will fight for the first time since he lost in his bid to regain the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO championships from Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs).
The unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw topped Joshua by split decision in their 12-round rematch August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Joshua beat Usyk on one scorecard, 115-113, but Usyk won 116-112 and 115-113 on the other two cards to retain his titles at Jeddah Superdome.
The 35-year-old Usyk has out-pointed Joshua, whose only previous loss came against Andy Ruiz Jr., in back-to-back bouts. Then an underdog, Usyk won his four titles by out-boxing Joshua and winning a 12-round unanimous decision in September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Joshua stopped Whyte in the seventh round of his final fight before he first became a heavyweight champion. Whyte has long sought to avenge that technical-knockout defeat to Joshua in December 2015 at O2 Arena.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has repeatedly discussed scheduling a Joshua-Whyte rematch for this summer.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.