“Top of the list” — Anthony Joshua vs. Jermaine Franklin talks confirmed by promoter Dmitriy Salita


One of boxing’s rising stars in the heavyweight division in Jermaine Franklin is ready for a fight against the biggest names. That includes a former title holder.

There have been rumors surrounding a fight between Franklin and former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The winner could potentially become a top contender for heavyweight gold.

Franklin, 29, had his unbeaten streak snapped by Dillian Whyte in November. In what was considered a controversial affair, Whyte won via majority decision. His promoter, Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions, believes that a fight with Joshua is possible. It is the best chance to prove he can thrive within the division.

“Jermaine wants to fight. He’s very excited about an opportunity,” Salita told The Sporting News in an exclusive. “We’ve had some discussions with Matchroom. At this point, what people are leaking online is not completely accurate. But as they say, where there’s smoke, there is fire.

“I believe that Jermaine is at the top of the list for Joshua. We are waiting to hopefully receive an official offer, and then we’ll make our decision.

“Jermaine showed in his last fight that he can perform at a high level. It was his first 12-round fight against Dillian Whyte. He did not get intimidated. Jermaine showed that he has the skills to pay the bills.”

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A former boxer, Salita was announced as the latest member of the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame. His taste for talent has not gone unnoticed, as he represents fighters like Franklin, Claressa Shields and Otto Wallin, among others. Salita has called Franklin the number two heavyweight out there, with number one being Deontay Wilder.

Joshua, 33, is at a crossroads in his career. In 2019, he lost the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles against Andy Ruiz Jr. but won them back a year later. In 2020, Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev to retain the belts.

However, he has lost two in a row to former cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk. Joshua has also traded trainers multiple times, going from Rob McCracken to Robert Garcia at one point. Now, he is with Derrick James, who has worked with Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo.

Salita pointed out that sometimes, the descent is quicker than the ascent. He believes that Joshua is doubting himself after moving away from several trainers, especially after he praised Joshua’s performance in the second Usyk fight.

Calling Joshua a Hall of Fame fighter and admiring the work of James, he is interested to see if Joshua can learn more than he needs to. Regarding Franklin, Salita believes his consistency has shown results.

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“Jermaine has been with Jesse Addison since his amateur career,” said Salita. “We’ve seen that he can function at the high level with Jesse in his corner.

“I believe when the going gets tough, you want voices in your corner that know and that you can trust. That’s very important. I know that Jermaine will trust what is being told in the corner. We don’t know if that will happen with Joshua.”

Salita has a plan for Franklin, one that involves someone who may be in trouble in Joshua.

“Joshua, coming off two losses, changing trainers, is vulnerable,” Salita said. “Let’s be honest. Jermaine realizes it. He feels like he has his own future and path. He’s ready to go out there and score the upset. Some feel like it could be an upset, and some don’t.

“But Jermaine’s going out there looking to score the win. After, he wants the rematch with Dillian Whyte, and then he wants to fight the winner of [Tyson] Fury vs. Usyk.”

At one point, Joshua was supposed to fight Deontay Wilder in a heavyweight title unification fight. Delays, whether by title changes or mandatories, altered those plans. Now, Joshua is on the outside looking in for the first time in a while.

MORE: ‘Joshua vs. Whyte 2 would prove nothing for AJ’ — Salita

Whyte rematching Joshua is a possibility following the former’s win over Franklin. ‘The Body Snatcher’ lost to Joshua in 2015 via TKO and is currently 2-2 in his last four fights. Fighting Franklin may be more enticing for Joshua. And if it happened? Salita believes Franklin can impress and then some.

“I know that Jermaine has more potential than he showed in the Dillian Whyte fight,” Salita stated. “Coming into that fight, he wasn’t that active, and it was a relatively short-notice bout. He crammed into the training camp and did what he could, which was a tremendous performance. Jermaine just fought in November. He’s strong and back in the gym. I believe that fight, even in a loss, gave him some confidence. Jermaine’s not really intimidated by anybody.

“We don’t know what Joshua has left. I believe that Jermaine has the athleticism, the speed, and a great chin. He has all the tools to score the upset.”

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