Anthony Joshua finds it hard to believe that the world heavyweight titles are no longer in his possession. After reigning atop the land of the big men for well over five years, the former Olympic gold medalist was usurped at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

Unwilling to simply lay back and allow the Ukrainian to seize complete control, Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) rambunctiously decided to challenge his skillful rival in an immediate rematch. While he showed noticeable improvements, Joshua wasn't quite able to solve the perplexing puzzle that stood before him, ultimately leading to a unanimous decision defeat.

Now, with Joshua forced to work his way from the ground up, the 33-year-old will attempt to make an example out of Jermaine Franklin. Officially, the two will meet in the center of the ring and bang it out on April 1st, at the O2 Arena in the United Kingdom.

Although Franklin isn’t the most well-known name in the heavyweight division, Joshua refuses to summarily dismiss his foes' chances at scoring an upset.

“I’m serious, focused, locked in,” said Joshua during a recent presser to a group of reporters. “It’s a serious fight, good opponent, I respect all of my opponents.”

By and large, a shot at Joshua represents Franklin’s second chance on the big stage. Just a few short months ago on November 26th, the American contender stood toe to toe with Dillian Whyte. Following 12 sweat-inducing rounds, Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) was in stunned disbelief as Whyte was handed a somewhat controversial majority decision victory.

But, in spite of his recent shortcomings, Franklin has vowed to take things up a notch heading into his showdown against Joshua. The pernicious puncher out of Watford, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, however, has no intentions of putting his guard down.

As the former unified titlist continues to work out the kinks in his game with new trainer Derrick James, he finds his matchup against Franklin as somewhat odd. Since 2016, at least one version of the heavyweight title has been on the line for each of Joshua’s bouts. This time around, none of the heavyweight division’s golden trinkets will be up for grabs.

Still, regardless of where he currently stands, Joshua will not allow Franklin’s lack of a heavyweight title dictate his motivational levels come fight night.  

“If he had the belts I would take him the same way. He's a fighter.”