Dmitriy Salita is confident the fighter he promotes can upset Anthony Joshua in part because he sees some similarities between Jermaine Franklin and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Ruiz famously floored Joshua four times and stopped the heavily favored IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion in the seventh round of their June 2019 fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. Franklin intends to pull off an upset of his own April 1, when he’ll battle Joshua in a 12-round main event at O2 Arena in London.
Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), of Saginaw, Michigan, gave Joshua’s rival, Dillian Whyte, a very difficult fight November 26. Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) won their 12-round bout by unanimous decision at OVO Arena Wembley in London, but Franklin’s performance made him a viable opponent for Joshua’s return from his split-decision defeat to Oleksandr Usyk.
“I feel that Jermaine has a lot of the attributes Ruiz has,” Salita told BoxingScene.com. “He has a good chin, he comes forward, he cuts off the ring, has fast hands. He’s a combination puncher and has shown that he can function at the highest level thousands of miles away from home, when the crowd is against him, as he did with Dillian Whyte. He’s very hungry. He wants to change his life.”
The 33-year-old Joshua was more competitive versus Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) in their rematch August 20 than he was during their first fight, which the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw won by unanimous decision in September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Salita still views England’s Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), who is working with a new trainer, Derrick James, as a vulnerable favorite.
“If you look at trajectory,” Salita said, “Jermaine has only gone up consistently, and Anthony Joshua, after the Ruiz fights, he’s gone a little bit up, then come back down. Joshua, whether it’s athletics, personal life, fame, trainers, etcetera, he hasn’t been able to pull it together at the highest level. He looked OK against Kubrat Pulev [in December 2020], but until he knocked him out [in the ninth round], he wasn’t as spectacular as we were expecting him to be. I believe Anthony Joshua is one of the greatest heavyweights of this generation. So, what I’m saying, I’m not in any way belittling his amazing accomplishments.
“But you could see he’s hesitant about getting hit and he is thinking twice about being aggressive. He changed some of that in the second Usyk fight, but he got caught a couple of times, where I saw that those doubts [resurfaced]. It’s up to Jermaine, obviously, to continue to build on his potential and to show up on the night of the fight, April 1st.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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