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[LIVE UPDATES] Anthony Joshua beats Franklin via unanimous decision

[LIVE UPDATES] Anthony Joshua beats Franklin via unanimous decision

Live updates as Anthony Joshua makes his return to the ring against Jermaine Franklin at The O2 in London.

Anthony Joshua returns to the ring for the first time since losing to Oleksandr Usyk last August as he takes on American Jermaine Franklin in London.

Joshua, 33, last achieved a win in 2020 and has since suffered back-to-back defeats by Oleksandr Usyk, but tonight he aims to reignite his career. The Ukrainian took the unified heavyweight titles from “AJ” with a decision win in 2021 before retaining the belts with another points victory over Joshua last August, leaving the former Olympic champion to switch up his trainer in pursuit of a morale-boosting performance.

[LIVE UPDATES] Anthony vs Franklin

Meanwhile, American Franklin enters London’s O2 Arena on the back of a controversial loss to Dillian Whyte – the first defeat of the 29-year-old’s career. Franklin suffered a majority-decision loss to Whyte in the English capital in November, when the winner was set to be rewarded with a fight against Joshua. Despite his defeat, and with many believing he had done enough to win, Franklin was paired with AJ anyway.

Can the American secure the biggest victory of his career? Or will Joshua take the first step back towards a world-title fight?

Round 1 – Joshua vs Franklin
Joshua looks to build behind his jab early while Franklin momentarily looks to get on the front foot before retreats very quickly to avoid a counter,

Joshua then lands his first notable combination to highlight his danger, but Franklin takes it comfortably as he seeks to force his man to reach.

[LIVE UPDATES] Anthony vs Franklin

Round 2 – Joshua vs Franklin
Blood seemingly coming from the nose of Joshua in the break before the second round. Out he comes to be met by a taunting Franklin as the American sticks his tongue out in the face of a missed hook.

Joshua lands a huge jab to rock back the head of Franklin, but again the American eats it up. The Brit tries a left upper-cut however mistimes it slightly as he continues to probe.

Joshua swerves a big left hand from Franklin but dishing out a thumping body shot in reply.

Round 3 – Joshua vs Franklin
Franklin swings and misses with his left hook before Joshua retakes control of the round behind his jab, the former champ perhaps not quite as busy as he would like to be.

Franklin pounces on a chance to attack on the front foot and takes the fight inside, but AJ gets out well. The American lets his right hand go again, skimming the side of Joshua’s face before the pair trade right hands at the bell.

Little to split them thus far.

Round 4 – Joshua vs Franklin
Franklin doubles up on the jab this time to force Joshua into a retreat, the American evidently growing in confidence here as Joshua struggles to impose himself.

Franklin again taunts his man by sticking out his tongue at the sight of another wayward shot, Joshua responding with a well-timed left hook.

This isn’t going all Joshua’s way, the pair letting their gloves go as the round comes to an end, Joshua unleashing an uppercut to exploit an open defence and Franklin replying with a wild and dangerous overhand shot that just misses Joshua on the ropes.

It’s building, slowly.

[LIVE UPDATES] Anthony vs Franklin

Round 5 – Joshua vs Franklin
Joshua is biding his time, staying patient, not being drawn into opening up too much. He does find an opening and lands a right hand to the left side of Franklin’s face before reverting to the jab.

A big right hand breaks through Franklin’s defence but again fails to hurt the American. Franklin is conserving energy in this round you feel, but looks to go on the counter with a swift combination, albeit failing to land.

Round 6 – Joshua vs Franklin
Joshua throws an overhand as Franklin ducks before trying to connect with a right hook in reply.

Joshua then lands with a huge left uppercut to put Franklin in trouble momentarily, only for the American to come back with a reply of his own.

Another uppercut on the inside prompts Franklin into a right hand and it’s beginning to pick up in round six. The pair both go on the attack in the final seconds of the round again.

Joshua on top on the judge’s scorecards you would have to say, but Franklin really making him work for it.

Round 7 – Joshua vs Franklin
For the first time really in the fight the pair grapple for a moment of rest, taking the fight on the inside where Joshua is looking to make uppercuts to the body count.

Franklin is reading Joshua’s hook well and manages to swerve away from a left hand. Joshua tries to squeeze through a straight right hand to the face but Franklin is wise to it.

Round 8 – Joshua vs Franklin
Joshua picks up the pace to start the eighth round, putting Franklin under pressure for the first time in the fight. Marcus McDonnell intervenes to stop the fight becoming messy, and it probably helps Franklin a little.

Franklin moves up on the inside and drags Joshua to the ropes, with the Brit keen to get back into the middle of the ring.

Round 9 – Joshua vs Franklin
Franklin comes out with a little more intent in round nine, swinging a left hook but failing to do any damage.

And with that, he takes it back on the inside to try and frustrate Joshua while regaining some energy. The fight has become a little messy, and not the greatest watch for The O2 crowd.

Referee Marcus McDonnell calls timeout, urging Franklin to box rather than grappling. It seems to spark Franklin into life as he unleashes a thumping right hand that Joshua manages to absorb.

He goes back to clinching in the final seconds.

Round 10 – Joshua vs Franklin
You’re sat here almost pleading with Joshua to show something. He is well up, but the knockout is the statement you feel he needs tonight.

Joshua throws a quickfire combination that slaps Franklin’s head right to left, before the American launches a dangerous right hand.

Joshua lands a huge right hand to put Franklin in trouble, before slapping his head back again with another right to the face. Franklin hanging in there a little, throwing little and clinching where he can.

Another big right hand from Joshua to close the round! Much better.

Round 11 – Joshua vs Franklin
Joshua lands a bruising body shot before going back up to Franklin’s head with the uppercut. Can he finish it here?

The former champion of the world smells blood and rocks Franklin’s head back with another of those left uppercuts, but the American is still there and squeezes in a body shot to draw Joshua into a clinch.

Franklin lands a slick right hand on the inside to Joshua’s face at the end of the round.

One to go. Are we going the distance?

Round 12 – Joshua vs Franklin
Franklin shoves Joshua onto the ropes, prompting McDonnell to step in for a moment. The pair then exchange some pleasantries at the middle of the ring before getting back to proceedings.

The pair clinch again, Joshua jabbing in a couple of body shots for good measure before breaking off and landing a huge body shot to put Franklin in trouble.

The American is holding on inside the final minute, boos ringing around the arena to the sight of Franklin clinching on the inside. The two let their hands go in the final seconds and that is that – Franklin takes Joshua the distance in the Londoner’s comeback fight.

But it’s not over just yet! Tempers flare and Joshua and Franklin come to blows after the bell as security are forced to step in!

Joshua beats Franklin via unanimous decision

Anthony Joshua marks his return to action with a unanimous decision victory over Jermaine Franklin, the judges scoring it 118-111, 117-111, 117-111 in favour of the former two-time world champion.

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