Anthony Joshua, himself, lamented his inability to stop the physically overmatched Jermaine Franklin this past Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
“There was opportunities there,” the British former 3-belt heavyweight champ said in his post-fight interview following his tentative unanimous decision victory. “You know they were prepared for the fight. I should have knocked him out but what can I say now? It’s done. On to the next.
“I wish I could have knocked him out, 100 percent. But in the next 15 years, no one will remember that fight anyway.”
Joshua’s less than stellar performance seemed to act like a bucket of chum in shark infested waters when it came to his heavyweight rivals.
Dillian Whyte, who beat Franklin via majority decision just about five months ago and who was stopped by Joshua as a still-green prospect back in 2015, had plenty to say about Joshua prior to Saturday’s bout.
“Joshua’s a c***. Joshua’s a c***. Joshua’s a c***,” Whyte blasted. “He wants to fight my leftovers and then talk s**t. ‘Oh, [Franklin has] lost this much weight. He looks better.’ No, he’s not.
“The hardest man to beat is someone who’s an undefeated heavyweight. He’s been beaten already. His mind is broke.
‘He’s in court with [his promoter] Dmitriy Salita, lawsuits and s**t going into the fight. He’s [fought] a real victim [Saturday night].
“They’re c****. They’re c****. They’re c****. They’re c****. They’re just c****. They’re c****.”
“They shoulda fought me,” Whyte continued. “That’s a fact. People [didn’t] wanna see him fight Franklin. He should’ve fought me. You know? Why does he need a warmup to fight me?”
After the fight, Whyte was practically urging Joshua to just hang up his gloves.
“Joshua has lost all his aggression and killer instincts. The ability is still there, the boxing is still there – he looks the part,” Whyte said.
“But every time Franklin shaped up like he was going to hit him, he hesitated. I’ve never seen him like that, he’s a bit shell-shocked. The last few rounds Joshua was very hesitant.
“Signs of a fighter who doesn’t want to do it anymore. If he doesn’t want to do it anymore, I think he should stop.”
Top contender Joe Joyce was significantly more reserved in his public statements post-Joshua fight, but the sentiment was pretty much the same as Whyte’s
“There is not a chance in hell that man would hear the final bell against Joyce,” Joyce wrote in an Instagram post. “The same can be said about Jermaine Franklin.”
Although Joshua got the “W” Saturday night, his seemingly safety-first approach to battling a man more than 20 lbs. lighter and 4-inches shorter drew a lot of criticism and out-loud wondering about whether the former heavyweight champ was still mentally fit to be competing at a high-end or elite level.
Coming into the contest on a two-fight skid, with back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk and a 2-3 record in his last five bouts, Joshua desperately needed a win. He had also picked up trainer Derrick James to help him fine tune his game and, perhaps, boil up some of his competitive juices.
He certainly didn’t look to be fired up at any level against Franklin, however, as he picked with a heavy, but cautious jab and really didn’t offer up any sort of sustained offensive surge. It looked as though Joshua could hit and hurt his American opponent at will, he just never opened up to do so with much frequency.
Efforts will probably be made to get Joshua back into the ring as soon as possible and pick up a blockbuster payday against the likes of WBC champ Tyson Fury or former WBC champ Deontay Wilder shortly thereafter. Joshua’s team may want to hold up on any grand plans right now.