Anthony Joshua needs to ‘get his mind right’ with Jermaine Franklin win, says Joe Joyce

EXCLUSIVE – Anthony Joshua must show he has recovered from the mental scars of back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk when he takes on Jermaine Franklin on Saturday, according to his former sparring partner Joe Joyce.

Joshua returns to London’s O2 Arena for his first outing since his second point loss against Usyk, who boxed superbly in the championship rounds to defend the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles he won at the Tottenham in September 2021 Hotspur Stadium had won against the Brits.

An improved performance from Joshua in last year’s rematch was all but forgotten as he launched into a sprawling tirade in the ring to take some of the shine off the victory celebration that pound-for-pound superstar Usyk had been hoping for.

For Joshua, who became a heavyweight champion in no time after winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics but has now been on the wrong end of the scores in three of his results, he put the stress and rigors of life at the forefront of the sport open past five exits.

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“I think he lacks a bit of confidence and confidence. He took those two losses hard,” Joyce told The Sporting News.

“We’ll see if he has fought those demons and found the right trainer and training setup to redeem himself.”

Joshua parted ways with trainers Angel Fernandez and Robert Garcia to team up for the Franklin fight with American Derrick James, who has overseen the careers of Errol Spence and Jermell Charlo, among others.

Joyce saw his former amateur rival up close for several years as they fought countless rounds at GB Boxing Base in Sheffield, where Joshua continued to work under Rob McCracken after turning pro and Joyce prepared for his silver medal run at Rio 2016 .

“He’s very dedicated. I saw that hanging out with him at the UK gym,” Joyce said.

“I haven’t seen him face to face since 2016 or 2017 so I can only say what I saw in the follow-up [interviews] and stuff.”

Franklin showed himself well when he dropped a controversial majority decision to Dillian Whyte at Wembley Arena last November and with a 2015 Scheunbrenner rematch between Joshua and Whyte possible for the summer Joyce certainly sees the logic of that putative confidence . Builder for the former two-time Unified Champion.

“I think this is a good fight for him to get back in,” he said. “If he does better than Dillian Whyte, which was pretty close, that builds this fight and it’s a good way to get back on top.

“He needs to have a few fights to get his mind right.”

MORE: Joe Joyce calls out Tyson Fury for summer showdown after Oleksandr Usyk’s undisputed fight collapses

That doesn’t feel like a problem for Joyce at the moment as the undefeated 37-year-old is riding the crest of a wave and positioning himself for a shot at heavyweight glory amid frustration over Usyk’s proposed undisputed fight with the collapse of Tyson Fury.

Joyce is 15-0 with 14 knockouts as a pro and is enjoying his meeting with former Olympian Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang on April 15 at London’s Copper Box.

“Big Bang!” he added. “We’re going to do it and I think it’s going to be a great fight. It’s about to set on April 15th.”

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