The ANTHONY JOSHUA VS. JERMAINE FRANKLIN FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE unfolded in London on Wednesday. Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman, ran the show, presenting matchups and setting up narratives for the tangoes. Top tango is AJ's ring return, after getting beaten by Oleksandr Usyk in successive fights. Hey, we could digress and stop to ponder the decision to have a limited boxer fight a massively clever one twice…in a row….did Team AJ really not see the extreme likelihood that it would be a dreary “rinse n repeat” night whenever AJ were fighting the five star ring general Usyk? But back on track…One reason that my mind wandered to something other than the principals for the Saturday prize fight from O2 is because neither AJ nor Franklin are showmen. So the presser didn't offer any histrionics, physical or verbal.
Here are some quotes from the players:
EDDIE HEARN: “Welcome back to London ahead of a huge night on Saturday night from The O2 Arena, the Lion’s Den and the scene of so many great Anthony Joshua nights. We return there for perhaps one of the most important fights of his career. Anthony Joshua takes on Jermaine Franklin live and exclusive on DAZN around the world. We cannot wait for the return. It has been nearly ten years since Anthony Joshua turned professional, seven years since he last performed at The O2 Arena. We’re just a couple of hundred of tickets away from a complete sell-out as we look forward to a great night of boxing, a great undercard and a big Heavyweight night for Anthony Joshua back at The O2. Of course this time around on DAZN. We’re delighted to welcome Joe Markowski and the team, our global broadcast partner, as the growth continues in the US and in the UK. It is an unrivalled schedule and value for money for the customer. As always, the action is available on the iPhone, on the tablet, through the smart TV, but now of course via SKY channel 429, via Virgin and also in the pubs. It is what you have been asking for for so long as this platform continues to grow globally. It is a major night for DAZN this Saturday with the first fight of Anthony Joshua’s new contract.”
Anthony Joshua: “It’s big, it’s massive. It’s a big fight for me, for sure. I respect my opponent fully and respect everything he's been through and we're here to rock and roll. I respect my supporters as well so I have put in the work, I respect my coach as well so I want to make sure I get the job done in good finish. I like the fact you always dangle carrots in front of me, telling me if I do this, this is here and that's there always leading onto big things. I dream big and I want bigger and better things in my life. As I stated in the last press conference, I want to secure the bag and move on in my life.
“The goal is not to make it back to the corner, the goal is to take him out. I respect Derrick fully and I trust everything he's been saying. When you're a student of the game, there are certain times you can be on the same level as people you speak to about boxing but when I speak to Derrick and ask him certain questions, the knowledge he spits is phenomenal. The knowledge he gives me is really, really good. We're at a stage now where the physical side of the fight is done. Fight week you are still training because it's part of our nature, but the physical work is done and it’s all about the knowledge. You just have to train your mind and honestly Derrick is up there with one of the best people I've spoke to about boxing. I appreciate his time, I appreciate the fact he took me on and I am looking forward to showing him he hasn't wasted his time by taking on this project.
“When you strip boxing back, it is very basic. A lot of it is down to self belief number one and just knowledge. You gain knowledge and apply it along the way. You fight with desire and then you can add some skills along the way. I was based in the Olympic gym in Sheffield for years. Obviously it’s a big set up because you've got hundreds of fighters and international fighters coming in. In the world class boxing gym in Texas, there’s a few of us pros just putting in the ground work. That is probably what you saw was difference is that I am not around hundreds of fighters in the gym. It is just three or four of us putting in the work. But when you disconnect from everything, which is hard to do in this day and because we're so connect, but I took myself away to disconnect myself and all the questions I have been asking myself, the answers came. It was quiet time and it has been a good camp. It is good to be back in the UK but everyone knows the UK is a little dead so I can't wait to get back to Texas and get back to putting in the work.
“It is the worst time. The more he talks, the bigger grave he digs for himself but it is what it is. I could say a lot of things about him but I respect my opponent. It is not for me to talk, it is for you to do all the talking and for me to do my job on Saturday. That is really honestly what I am focused on from round one to round 12. I am prepared for a 12-rounder but I do believe in my ability, my counter-punching and all that type of stuff to definitely put a dent in Jermaine. But I am not here to talk, I am here to do what I have to do because I really want to win.
“Yeah, that is personal and to show my coach that I respect the time he has put in with me. In terms of entertaining, we don’t play boxing, but at the same time people from years back and the empires, they love people coming together and fighting. There will be entertainment regardless. I think we will see blood and I just really look forward to getting in there again. I’m so happy I’m fighting again because when you look at the champions now, it is just a shambles when you are trying to compete with mandatories and negotiations, honestly I can't believe no fights have been made at championship level. I am so happy I can get back to work, get on with my job and I am looking forward to this assignment. I can't wait honestly. I am really looking forward to it.”
“I will come out, do this, do that. As he said, it is by any means necessary. We are just here to do a job. I respect my opponent and may the best man win. One thing he said is he started eating right for this camp, he’s dealing with someone who has been living right from the get go. I have been putting in work from the day I started this business. It’s going to be a good fight because he’s up against a real one, for sure.”
“First of all I’m happy to be here, and I think that I’ve learnt a lot about Anthony from his dedication and the fact that he is always a student and always wants more. This Saturday we will show everything that we have been working on. I think that Jermaine Franklin is a very tough fighter. I really don’t care how we get the win; I just care that we get it. If it gets to a point where I can see it, then let’s go get it. Initially he’s just going in there and it’s all about winning the fight. Regardless of how he wins, I don’t care about that. I just care that he comes out victorious. If I see the knockout then let’s go take him. I’m excited to be here. This is my first fight as a Heavyweight trainer. We’re coming over to the UK and everyone has been very receptive and very nice. It’s all about the focus and all about how much he’s dedicated and sacrificed to be here. He sacrificed the comfort of the UK to come to Dallas. Even in the winter time it is hot. You sacrifice. That’s what it Is all about. Everybody is working hard. Everybody is pushing hard. It is about what you’re willing to give up to be successful, because everybody is working hard, but not everybody is willing to give up something. AJ was willing to sacrifice something and you’re going to see how that pays off on Saturday.”
“First off, I want to say it is an honour to be back in the UK. I appreciate the opportunity. In the beginning I’ve just been on a little health journey. I changed my eating habits and changed stuff that I was consuming. My body weight just started falling off. We had more time to prepare for this fight so I’m more ready and I’m more in shape. I’m just ready to let the fireworks go. I’m just a huge fan of the sport. I watch a lot of boxing. I watched AJ fights way before we even had this opportunity or thought it was possible. I’m just a huge fan of the sport.”
“My confidence is always great. I think you’re in the wrong business if you don’t truly believe in yourself – this is not the right game for you. You always have to have the extreme upmost confidence in yourself and you just have to put your faith in the work that’s gone on behind it. I’m going to get the win by any means possible. But if I can put him on his ass then that’s what I’m going to try to do. Anything is possible. I come from a place with not a lot of possibilities, and I made it this far so anything is possible. My passion for the sport, my team and my family; that’s all the motivation I need. I believe my hands get raised at the end of the fight.”