‘I’m nervous’ – Eddie Hearn reveals huge pre-fight nerves ahead of Anthony Joshua’s must-win fight against Franklin
EDDIE HEARN admits he’s incredibly ‘nervous’ for Anthony Joshua’s comeback fight.
The former two-time unified heavyweight champion returns to action at The O2 a week on Saturday against Jermaine Franklin.
Anthony Joshua returns to the ring a fortnight on SaturdayREX
AJ’s comeback fight – his first since back-to-back losses to Usyk – will be against Jermaine FranklinREX
Promoter Eddie Hearn is ‘nervous’ for the Brit ahead of his comeback fightREX
AJ’s career hangs in the balance following back-to-back losses to pound-for-pound king Oleksandr Usyk and defeat to the American could potentially put the final nail into the coffin for his world title hopes.
Hearn is relishing seeing what the Watford warrior has learned under the tutelage of Derrick James in Texas, but is worried about Franklin being a potential banana skin.
During an appearance on talkSPORT, the Matchroom Boxing chief said: “AJ’s looking good but I’m nervous.
“People are saying this is a straightforward fight for Anthony Joshua but it’s not at all.”
Hearn believes the psychological effects of defeat to Usyk and Franklin’s impressive display against Dillian Whyte last November make the April Fools Day clash a tricky one for AJ.
He continued: “Let’s look at the facts: he’s coming off two defeats to the pound-for-pound No 1 Oleksandr Usyk, but you saw the emotional side to AJ in the last performance and after the fight.
“Franklin is full of confidence coming off the Dillian Whyte fight and he looks all of a sudden about 20lbs lighter as well.
“This is a big moment for Anthony Joshua’s career, people are talking about fights against Deontay Wilder, Whyte, Fury but he has to win on April 1.
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“Franklin is a good fighter who is going to come well equipped but AJ has worked himself hard out there in humble, humble surroundings.”
Joshua, 33, has isolated himself in Texas in a bid to rediscover his mojo along with new head trainer James.
Hearn said: “This is just him, Derrick James and Errol Spence. Just hard work.
“I think this is the hardest he’s ever worked in camp.
“And I really hope that he can produce the performance that he deserves on April 1 because I believe he’s still in his prime.
“But he has to beat Jermaine Franklin.”
Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin – Date, live stream, TV channel and all you need to know about heavyweight bout
Joshua is relishing the high-stakes showdown, saying: “I have to take Franklin even more seriously than I did Usyk.
“Not comparing them, but now I just know better.
“What I went through and how I trained was not enough, so I now know that I have to put even more pressure on myself to perform better.
“As long as I am fighting, I am going to have this level of self-expectation to improve as a fighter.
“I know Jermaine Franklin is working in the trenches right now, so I have to remember that this is still a real fight.
“Just because Jermaine Franklin is not yet a big-name brand, it does not mean he cannot perform.”