Maybe he’s patient. Maybe he’s not.

Either way, Jermaine Franklin certainly has been waiting a while.

The Saginaw, Mich. native has been a pro for nearly eight full years and has fought 111 rounds across 22 fights, but he’s long been biding his time waiting for a significant opportunity.

He spent his first seven years and 20 fights working the sport’s less-heralded back rooms in cities like Youngstown, Tacoma and Flint before crossing the Atlantic to Wembley Stadium for a long-awaited shot at the big time – in this case, a match with recently failed title challenger Dillian Whyte.

It didn’t work out in Franklin’s favor in the short run – thanks to a majority decision loss he’s deemed a robbery – but it could provide a significant long-range payoff now that the 29-year-old has reeled in an even bigger fish in the form of returning two-time champ Anthony Joshua.

The two will get together on April 1 at London’s O2 Arena for a DAZN-streamed fight that’ll mark Joshua’s first appearance since two straight losses to Oleksandr Usyk that cost him a large cache of title belts and nearly every trace of a formerly formidable reputation as a heavyweight destroyer.

“I’m ready to show the world why it’s time for me to take my place at the top of the heavyweight division,” Franklin said. “Joshua had his time. It’s my time to shock the world. This fight isn’t going to the judge’s card. I will have win No. 22 come April 1. That ain’t no April Fool’s joke.”

And it ain’t something that’s happened abruptly.

Franklin was 17-0 before graduating to his first appearance in the sport’s one-time East Coast capital, Atlantic City, in April 2019 for a 10-rounder at Boardwalk Hall in which he met and defeated former fringe contender Rydell Booker by a wide unanimous decision.

He parlayed that into a split nod over fellow unbeaten prospect Jerry Forrest three months later but fought just once more over the subsequent 34 months while struggling through managerial and money issues and working a full-time job to make ends meet.

He finally got back in the ring to stop 40-something journeyman Rodney Moore in May 2022 and was in London for the scrap with Whyte in November. Not quite the high-speed coming-out party he’d planned a few years earlier but still a showcase for the skills he’d long claimed to possess.

“I want to be considered as a major force in the heavyweight division,” Franklin told “I am going to show that I am the best new heavyweight in the world. America needs a new face in heavyweight boxing, and that’s me, born and bred in Michigan.”

To do so, he said, he’d employ a toolbox that’d vary by the situation.

“My strength is my ability to adapt,” he said, “find my opponent’s weakness and expose it. I find a way to win, and I love to score spectacular knockouts. My goals are to improve with each fight, keep learning, and mastering the sweet science. Once you think you have nothing to improve on, you lose.”

In Joshua, he’ll have a foe who stands four inches taller and has a five-inch edge in reach, not to mention an 81 percent KO rate thanks to 22 finishes in 24 fights.

Not to mention, Joshua’s ranked fifth by the WBC – a full 23 slots ahead of Franklin’s No. 28.

That said, Joshua is 2-3 in his last five fights, and five of Franklin’s last six victories have come against opponents with one, two or three pre-fight losses.

“I want to fight the best,” he said. “I beat all the top guys in the amateurs, and as a professional from the beginning of my career I wanted to fight the best. That’s why you see several undefeated fighters on my resume and so-called gatekeepers that other prospects didn’t want to touch. I'm coming for everyone.”

And if he upsets Joshua, who’s been installed as anywhere from an 8-to-1 to a 12-to-1 favorite, he won’t be a hard man to find. Franklin inked a deal with Salita Promotions toward the end of 2018 and expects the alliance to pay household name dividends before too much longer.

“In my mind I am the best heavyweight in the world,” he said. “I may be 6-foot-2, but my heart and skills are 8 feet tall. Not too many fighters are going to measure up to that. Boxing is about balance. I am a balanced athlete who's also strong, fast, athletic, and getting fitter and better with each fight.

“I expect (recognition) to happen very shortly. Salita Promotions is doing everything to make that happen. That is why I'm happy that I signed with Dmitriy and his company. They have made me feel like my dream will come true and let the world know who I am.”

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This week’s title-fight schedule:


Vacant WBC super featherweight title – San Antonio, Texas

Rey Vargas (Unranked WBC/Unranked IWBR) vs. O'Shaquie Foster (No. 1 WBC/No. 9 IWBR)

Vargas (36-0, 22 KO): Seventh title fight (6-0); Held WBC titles at 122 and 126 pounds

Foster (19-2, 11 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since last loss in 2016 (9-0, 4 KO)

Fitzbitz says: Vargas is seeking a third weight-class title and is a logical 2-to-1 favorite but I’ve got a feeling that Foster, at 130, is tricky enough to give him all he wants. Foster by decision (55/45)

Last week's picks: 1-0 (WIN: Navarrete)

2023 picks record: 3-1 (75.0 percent)

Overall picks record: 1,253-409 (75.4 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.