LONDON — Anthony Joshua will come in at the heaviest fighting weight of his career when he takes on Jermaine Franklin in London on Saturday.
Joshua, a former two-time world heavyweight champion, weighed in Friday at 255.4 pounds for the fight at the O2 Arena.
That is nearly 11 pounds heavier than his last fight, the second straight loss to Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia in August.
Joshua, who said he has eaten more and focused less on lifting weights during his training camp in Dallas, Texas, with new trainer Derrick James, is ready to go.
“I’ve got my game plan; I’ve got my mind right and I’m ready to go to war,” Joshua said on Friday.
The British boxer is looking to get back into contention for world title fights by beating Franklin, who weighed 234.1 pounds – 23 pounds lighter than when he lost for the first time in his career in November to Dillian Whyte.
This will be Joshua’s first fight in seven years — 13 fights — in which a heavyweight title is not on the line. The 33-year-old is currently No. 4 in ESPN’s heavyweight rankings behind Tyson Fury, Usyk and Deontay Wilder as he looks to get back on the winning track and title contention.
“People talk about the rebuild of Anthony Joshua — I really don’t,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn told ESPN. “I see a guy who’s coming off a tight defeat to the pound-for-pound No. 1 [Oleksandr Usyk, who is No. 3 in ESPN’s P4P rankings] … and is still an elite heavyweight in the glamour landscape. I think what we need more than anything is momentum, and that’s what we are looking to achieve in 2023.”
Joshua is the -1100 favorite heading into the fight, according to Caesars Sportsbook, while Franklin is +700.
“We’re looking forward and I see a bright future and that kind of keeps me in good spirits,” Joshua said last week. .
“Starting on Saturday night with Jermaine Franklin, a devastating performance can make a statement to the world of boxing and show that he’s ready to take on all comers this year,” Hearn said. “I really feel like a fight with Tyson Fury is makeable.
“If he can get through Franklin on Saturday, both men will be without any mandatory obligations, or will not have a listed opponent. So everything’s on the line Saturday night. A defeat would mean that his world title ambitions are in tatters, and that’s the aim for Anthony Joshua. So this may be the most important fight of his career so far.”
Information from ESPN’s Mike Coppinger and the Associated Press was used in this report