Jermaine Franklin has questioned Anthony Joshua’s decision to hire Derrick James, his third coach in as many fights, ahead of their April 1 clash.
Despite suffering a points defeat to Dillian Whyte in November, Franklin got the call to be Joshua’s opponent at the o2 Arena in the Londonder’s comeback fight.
AJ has not boxed since he was beaten for the second time by Oleksandr Usyk, who retained his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles via unanimous decision in Saudi Arabia in August.
That fight came 11 months after Joshua had first lost to the Ukrainian at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and he had different coaches in his corner for either one. First it was Rob McCracken who left the camp and then it was confirmed that Robert Garcia would no longer be part of the team after that one fight in Saudi.
As of January, Joshua has turned to James, well known for his association with elite fighters like Errol Spence and Jermell Charlo, and considered by some to be the best trainer in the game.
But 21-1 Franklin is not sure it’s the right fit for either of them. He said: “I don’t know how to feel about the Derrick James thing.
“Because you’re already kinda aggressive and Derrick James trains aggressive fighters so I don’t see what more he can add to his game. But most of his guys are body hunters, you’re 6ft 6in, it’s going to be harder for you to get down and get to the body like that.”
In addition, Franklin suggested that Joshua should blame himself instead of changing trainers.
The self-styled ‘989 Assassin’ has been with his head coach Jesse Addison since he was 12.
“Every time, just because you lost it might not be your trainer’s fault, it could be you,” he added.
“I don’t blame the trainer. This is the third trainer he’s had in three fights. At what point do you start blaming yourself and not the trainer? It can’t be every trainer. Not every trainer can be making you lose.
“Maybe he’s just trying to find the trainer that he’s most comfortable with. But I feel like you and your trainer should have a real solid relationship win, lose or draw. Early on when you’re with these people they don’t get paid. They’ve been with you for years. They know you inside and out.
“Your relationship might get a little shaky but it’s up to you how you fix it and bring it together. If you’re not liking some stuff your coach is doing you should be able to talk to him and tell him: ‘I need you to do this and this’. If you can’t reconcile then that’s ok, this is business. It’s OK to go and get another coach but I would at least try to fix what’s going on first.”
Joshua, however, felt the need to switch it up again as he enters the next phase of his career, which starts here, in his first non-Championship fight since he boxed Dillian Whyte for the British title way back in 2015.
It is put to Franklin that another trainer switch for Joshua might hand him an opportunity to score a big upset on away soil.
He replies: “I feel like it’s a big opportunity for me, not because of him changing trainer but because of the other shit we’ve seen. Like footwork, the Usyk fight surprised me a little bit.
“It was a different AJ as a fighter. I’ve been watching that, studying that. Footwork of his is a big thing, I don’t think people see it because he’s such a bully and dominating that they don’t see some of the mistakes he makes with his feet.
“But I’m faster than most of the guys and have better defense than most of the guys. Right now we’re just trying to capitalize on how to get out of the way and set certain stuff up based upon his aggressiveness.
“I’m used to seeing AJ like a bull, a raging bull. Even though he’s not overly aggressive he’s dominant. But when I watched the Usyk fights it was weird to see this little guy pot-shotting. He’s not trying to knock you out he’s just touching you and moving back. You can see all the frustration.
“In my opinion, regardless of the way he fights we have ways to touch him in attack. We work for it all.”
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