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Anthony Joshua confirms comeback fight in April

Big-time boxing is set with some tasty bouts as the spring season gets underway, with AJ’s comeback underlining unifications in both heavy and light weight divisions

Big-time boxing is set with some tasty bouts as the spring season gets underway, with AJ’s comeback underlining unifications in both heavy and light weight divisions
Richard HeathcoteGetty Images

Oleksandr Usyk derailed Anthony Joshua’s career plan, handing the former heavyweight champ two straight defeats. And while the Ukranian southpaw is lining up a heavyweight unification bout with Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua is looking to get his career back on the right track.

London’s O2 Arena will see the former champ meet American opponent Jermaine Franklin on April 1st. For Franklin, this will be a validation, having suffered his first career loss in November to Joshua’s long-time nemesis Dillian Whyte. He needs to show that the step up in level is not too much for him and that he belongs in the conversation when heavyweight contenders are concerned.

For Joshua, this fight is about proving that he is equal to the challenge of coming back to a division that he once ruled. Usyk outboxed him twice in 2021 and he has yet to re-enter the ring. Every passing day that he is inactive will gnaw away at his legacy, as his opponents will say that he was “found out” and was never really a true champion.

Brought through most of his career by only one trainer, Joshua is now on his fourth and is looking to stamp his authority on the Franklin.

“I want to put on a show and impress my coach as he has high standards,” says Joshua. “Franklin has a good style and a great attitude, which he has shown in recent fights. Mentally and physically I feel ready. I’m looking forward to stepping back into the ring on April 1.”

Usyk looks to derail Fury

Anthony Joshua was certainly not unstoppable, having previously lost to Andy Ruiz and having been wobbled quite severely by Dillian Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko, but his overall career arc was thrown into disarray by Oleksandr Usyk.

When the former Cruiserweight champ moved up to heavyweight, many thought that the size disadvantage would be too great to surmount, but Usyk showed that his vastly superior boxing skills could frustrate at this higher level, and his power was still enough to deal with even the biggest opponent.

With Joshua set aside, Usyk is now focusing on Tyson Fury. There are no other serious threats to be faced at this weight for the Ukranian, for despite Wilder’s protestations, Fury has already dealt him a fatal blow in his claim to world dominance.

Fury is a huge unit, standing 6′9″ tall, and in later years he has developed amazing skill and speed for a man his size, a far cry from his early days when he displayed poor footwork and a propensity to be chinny.

For as much as anyone would fancy a puncher’s chances at heavyweight, this is a boxer’s game and Usyk is the better pugilist of the two. If he manages to top Fury in April; a fight that is still not completely confirmed since both camps are struggling to agree terms; Usyk will have to face him again in an immediate rematch. Beating him twice could undo the Gypsy King entirely, much as it has threatened to do to Joshua.

Taylor gets Irish debut in Serrano rematch

Unification bouts are all abounding this spring, as Dublin will get a huge fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. While Taylor handed Serrano a controversial split decision loss in a sold-out Madison Square Garden last year, the Puerto Rican has gone on to unify her featherweight titles in a solid unanimous decision win over Erika Cruz to become the undisputed champion in that weight class.

Moments later, Taylor joined her in the ring to announce the rematch between the two at lightweight, which is scheduled for May in Dublin. The venue has yet to be announced, but Taylor has previously mentioned Croke Park, the historic stadium intertwined with Irish identity, as a dream venue for her homecoming, something manager Eddie Hearn is not keen on.

“This is more than a dream come true - my debut in Ireland against Amanda Serrano,” says Taylor. “This is incredible. The last fight was epic and I expect nothing less for the next one.”

The 36-year-old Taylor is 22-0 and will face a 44-2-1 Serrano in a match that puts all of her titles; WBA, IBF, WBC, WBO, and The Ring; on the line.

Serrano’s trainer, Jordan Maldonado, recognizes the significance of the fight being in Dublin, saying, “One of the things I had said is the only way I would take the Katie Taylor fight is if it is in Ireland. She deserves it.”