Breaking: Anthony Joshua seals win over Franklin as fight spills over after final bell

Anthony Joshua won a decisive decision match against Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena to celebrate his return to the ring.

The Briton prevailed over his opponent over the course of 12 rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory at the same location where he made his professional debut ten years prior.

At the final bell, a bout that had been reasonably clean descended into chaos, forcing security to intervene as both sides got into a brief altercation inside the ring and at ringside.

Coming off the back of two successive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, defeat in London on Saturday night would have been unthinkable. Fighting in his first non-title contest since 2015, the 33-year-old has faced questions over whether his star power is on the wane with promoter Eddie Hearn describing the fight as a ‘final roll of the dice’ for the two-time world champion.

While there are greater tests ahead, victory back in the capital sets him back on course for some huge fights this summer.

Franklin, 29, was making his second appearance at the O2 in six months, having travelled to the capital to take on Dillian Whyte last November. While he suffered the first defeat of his career that night, he gave the Brixton heavyweight problems and considered himself extremely unlucky to have lost on the judges’ scorecards.

Joshua, who weighed in at his career-heaviest on Friday, was given a similar examination by the skilled and game American before finally breaking his resistance.  

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Anthony Joshua punches Jermaine Franklin during the Heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin at The O2 Arena on April 01, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
Joshua took care of business in the

Despite the towering height difference between the two, Franklin was not fazed and engaged Joshua from the opening bell with blood tricking from the Briton’s nose from the first round.

Joshua took aim with straight left jabs from the early stages, landing a big right hook at the end of the third with Franklin taking it well.

A superb fourth round saw Joshua find the target with that jab again but was still unable to follow up with Franklin countering superbly, fleet-footed and intent on throwing back.

Joshua needed more work in his corner ahead of the sixth with blood flowing from his nose but scored with a tremendous left uppercut that rocked his opponent.

Boxing In London: Anthony Joshua v Jermaine Franklin
Joshua says he will be back out again in the summer

Those shots looked to have slowed Franklin down by the half-way point with the work done locked away in the gym with Derrick James on show, if lacking the destructive ambition to find the finish.

With Joshua leading comfortably on the scorecards heading into the final rounds, a tiring Franklin clung on but prodoced a superb shot that drew a gasp from the crowd towards the end of the ninth.

An explosivie 10th saw Franklin hurt Joshua who responded in kind with a massive uppercut that had both men staggering. The open warefare benefited Joshua, who began finding the follow-up shots his trainer had been calling for with increasing ease.

Superb body shots crashed into Franklin as Joshua continued to show off his skillset late on but the American stood his ground until the final bell.

During fight week, Hearn teased the possibility of Joshua vs Tyson Fury once again, insisting the fight that collapsed for a second time in three years last October can be revived this summer.

A rematch against Whyte remains another compelling option, as does a long-awaited meeting with Deontay Wilder in a fight, even without world titles on the line, would promise to be one of the biggest in recent heavyweight history.

Victory in London opens those doors again for Joshua.

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