LONDON – Former two-time heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua of Great Britain (25-3, 22 KOs) got back in the winner's column with a 12-round unanimous decision over Jermaine Franklin of Saginaw, Michigan (21-2, 14 KOs).
The fight, however, was underwhelming.
The scores were 118-111, 117-111, and 117-111, all in favor of Joshua, who won for the first time since December 2020.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist was coming off consecutive defeats at the hands of unified world champion Oleksandr Usyk. Saturday marked his first bout with new head trainer Derrick James, who also coaches unbeaten world champions Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo.
On the other hand, Franklin returned on the back of a controversial decision loss to Dillian Whyte.
In the first, Joshua dictated the round behind his jab. Joshua was sticking to a very hard and steady jab for most of the round.
Joshua and Franklin had moments in the fourth and fifth frames as both played a technical strategy and picked their spots well, leading to some even scorecards during this period.
In the sixth, Joshua remained gun-shy and tentative, allowing Franklin to connect with a slew of hooks and uppercuts.
Prizefighting or Wrestlemania?
By the eighth, WWE fans were enticed as neither man did much other than wrestle and quarrel. The same process repeated itself in the ninth round as Joshua continued dictating the slow-paced affair. Franklin finally landed something of note, a solid right hand that momentarily buckled Joshua's legs. The former titlist, however, immediately tied up, as he did throughout the fight, to negate Franklin's momentum.
Joshua briefly let his hands go to start the 10th but reverted back to holding. He landed a stiff uppercut on the inside, and Franklin took it well. They began to exchange punches on the inside. Franklin was taking Joshua's best shots and standing his ground. It was more of the same in the 11th as Joshua looked to finish off strong.
Instead, the 12th frame featured a grappling fest. After the final bell, Joshua briefly had his glove on Franklin's throat as he finished the bout with one final clinch, which led to the pair being separated.