Anthony Joshua may have been just as surprised as the person next to him at how effective Jermaine Franklin was against Dillian Whyte in their heavyweight bout last November.

Franklin was essentially unknown going into that fight and Whyte is a known veteran of the British heavyweight scene. But Joshua, the former heavyweight champion from London, however, thinks it is a fallacy to start conflating popularity with skill, which he thinks may have been one reason why many spectators were taken aback by Franklin’s efforts.

While Whyte ended up winning on points, many believed Franklin, of Saginaw, Michigan, deserved at least a draw, possibly even a win.

Franklin’s losing efforts were not for nought. He will now face 33-year-old Joshua on April 1 at the O2 Arena. The fight marks Joshua’s first fight since his two consecutive defeats to unified WBO, WBA, IBF heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.

Whyte recently complained that he felt disrespected because he was led to believe that his win over Franklin would have catapulted him into a rematch with Joshua.

“Here’s the thing, because Whyte’s popular doesn’t mean that he’s gonna win,” Joshua told Ade Oladipo on The DAZN Boxing Show. “Popularity doesn’t win fights. Jermaine Franklin is a fighter. Whether you know of him that’s your own research and how much you invest into research and the whole business. But in terms of talent, you can’t deny the man (Franklin). When a man turns up in that ring to fight, he’s coming to fight you and take your head off. That’s what he tried to do with Dillian.”

Much has been made by Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, about how his charge needs to win on April 1 in order to become a heavyweight champion again. Should Joshua, who is now training with Derrick James in Texas, become victorious, it is expected that he will fight Whyte in the summer, followed by another fight at the end of the year.

“Whether we expect more from Dillian, I feel like you should not underestimate your opponent," Joshua said. "Even though we expect so much from Dillian, let’s not put his opponent down here because his opponent is still worthy enough to step into the ring with him.”