Joshua to face Jermaine Franklin at the O2 in April

Anthony Joshua has agreed a deal to face American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on April 1, Sportsmail can exclusively reveal.

Joshua has not stepped foot in the ring since his second-successive defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in August 2022 – having lost his WBA, WBO and IBF belts to the Ukrainian in September 2021.

But Joshua will face Franklin – who trained alongside Tyson Fury in the build-up to his showdown with Dillian Whyte in November 2022 – in a must-win fight as he looks to work his way back to the top of the heavyweight division.

Joshua and Franklin have agreed on the financials for the fight and will sign the final paperwork later on Monday afternoon.

The fight between the two heavyweight boxers will take place in London at the O2 Arena on April 1.

Joshua will be looking to reassert his dominance in the heavyweight division, while Franklin will be looking to bounce back from his defeat by Whyte in November 2022.

Joshua looked set to face Fury in December but negotiations between the two British boxers collapsed in October after the Gypsy King grew frustrated with how long AJ’s team were taking to sign the contract.

AJ was disappointed to see the deal fall through as they had made good progress – having agreed on the financial terms of the fight, splitting the purse 60/40 in the favour of the WBC champion.

The pair had also named the Principality Stadium in Cardiff as the chosen location and agreed on the TV rights which were said to be stumbling block. The deal nonetheless crashed all the same.

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