Boxing is a cruel sport. Even beyond the whole getting punched repeatedly aspect of it, the sport’s complicated, gnarled structure has a way of eating its own as fighters try to navigate the tricky limbo of promoters and match-makers. No other sport punishes losing quite like boxing. NBA teams can lose three of five games without blinking an eye; a 2-3 stretch barely even registers over the course of MLB’s 162 game schedule. But for Anthony Joshua (24-3), one of the most famous and popular heavyweights in the world, a continuation of his current cold spell could put his entire career in jeopardy ahead of his fight on Saturday against Jermaine Franklin (21-1).
“The reality is AJ wants to fight for the heavyweight title,” Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told Chris Mannix of SI. “If he loses, that puts all of that in jeopardy. It would raise that question about carrying on and what you are in the sport for. In that respect, there is a lot of pressure on Saturday night.”
Although the fight on Saturday doesn’t have any title belt implications, it might very well be the most important fight of Joshua’s life. With a win, Joshua would vault himself back into the big-money, mega-fight class of heavyweight. Namely, it would put him back on track to at last mount a title challenge against current undisputed champion Tyson Fury, Joshua’s British compatriot and longtime rival.
Conversely, a loss would more or less harpoon Joshua’s career as a serious boxer—despite his sparkling record, Franklin isn’t considered to be on Joshua’s level, even after accounting for Joshua’s recent bad form. In purely economic terms, the difference between winning and losing can be measured in literally hundreds of millions of dollars.
The fight between Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin will take place at the O2 Arena in London and will be broadcast on DAZN. Interestingly, this marks the first time in seven years that Joshua will not fight on pay-per-view since DAZN is a subscription service that costs $19.99 a month and only charges pay-per-view for select fights.
The main card will begin at 2pm EST with Joshua and Franklin expected to take the ring around 5:40pm EST.
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