Saturday, April 1. may spell make or break at the very top of the sport for former WBA undisputed heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua, as the faltering British puncher takes on American challenger, Jermaine Franklin – in the former’s first non-title bout since 2015.

Joshua, a former WBA, IBO, IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion, has yet to return to professional boxing since August of last year, suffering a split decision loss in a one-sided defeat against Oleksandr Usyk in the pair’s championship rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Suffering his second consecutive loss to the Ukrainian striker, Joshua slumped to 24-3 as a professional – following a stunning, upset knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. on short notice back in June 2019 in his debut on North American soil. 

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Seeing high-profile fights against current undisputed WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury – and fellow former gold holder, Deontay Wilder fall to the wayside amid his continued losing streak against former cruiserweight titleholder, Usyk, Joshua headlines at The O2 Arena on Saturday in London.

Taking on the 21-1 professional, Franklin, who is yet to touch gold in his eight year professional career, the United States native, who headlined against common-foe, Dillian Whyte back in November of last year at Wembley Stadium, suffered the first loss of his career in a majority decision defeat. 

Racking up championship wins tenfold over the course of his career, Watford native, Joshua is expected to bounce back and prevent a third straight loss against Franklin this weekend on home soil – with BetWay placing the former as high as a -1,000 betting favorite to defeat Franklin, who comes in as a high +600 betting underdog

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Beyond outright betting on the outcome of Joshua’s non-title fight with Franklin, the British heavyweight has been tipped as low as -400 to stop Franklin via KO, or TKO inside the distance – while the former, who holds 14 career knockout victories, is a sizeable +1,000 betting underdog to prevent the judges’ involvement. 

Expected to most likely emerge with his first win since December 2020 from the fifth to eight round onwards, Joshua is as low as -400 to successfully take a decision triumph over distinct underdog, Franklin.

Winning IBF gold back in April 2016, Joshua flattened Charles Martin with a second round KO at the same venue as this weekend’s matchup, before taking home wins in title fights against the likes of Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz Jr., and Kubrat Pulev. 

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And despite odds favoring Joshua to return to the winner’s enclosure this weekend against Franklin, Johnny Nelson claims the former world champion should likely hang up his gloves if he suffers an upset defeat.

“If Anthony Joshua loses, he jacks it in,” Nelson wrote. “If he doesn’t jack it, he should jack it. Because it’s a hard mountain to climb. Especially when you’ve had the success and the heights that he’s had. So he can’t afford to lose. That’s a must. Then from that, it’s confidence building.” 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.