I’ll KO Joshua… then see the sights: Franklin off to visit London’s landmarks if he springs upset

Once he has demolished Anthony Joshua – which he fully expects to do – Jermaine Franklin will turn his attention to some of the other London monuments.

Red alert at Tower Bridge. En garde, Buckingham Palace. Unheralded this American certainly is but those famous sites are on his list for Monday morning, should he spring a major upset on the Greenwich peninsula on Saturday night.

‘I want to see the sights,’ says Franklin. ‘I’ve been shut away in the gym and my hotel since I got here. After I knock Joshua out I can get out for a couple of days.’

Riding the tour bus with him will be his mother and sister. ‘You’ll get to know them at the fight,’ he says. ‘That’s for sure. Specially my little sister. She’ll by jumping up and down like crazy. Screaming above the crowd noise. However, many Joshua fans are in there.’

Although just 29, under the ring radar before he crossed the Atlantic to lose a debatable split decision to Dillian Whyte in November, still barely known in this country, Franklin is relishing the biggest fight of his life.

Jermaine Franklin expects to beat Anthony Joshua in Saturday’s heavyweight showdown

The American has suffered just one narrow defeat to Dillian Whyte in his 22 fight career

The American has suffered just one narrow defeat to Dillian Whyte in his 22 fight career

‘I’m already a winner,’ says this son of the depressed post-industrial city of Saginaw, Michigan. ‘I’m from a place with little or no opportunities. Where I had to work 12 hours a day to put bread on the table for my family. Where I got into a bit of trouble.

‘But my journey has already brought me to this life-changing opportunity. Fighting one of the great heavyweights. Looking to win and go on to world title shots.’

Is he not intimidated so much as a scintilla by Joshua’s golden Olympian and world champion presence? Nor by the heavy betting odds against him?

‘Not me,’ he says. ‘I enjoy proving people wrong.’ In many eyes he did just that against Whyte in Wembley Arena, even though two of the three judges scored narrowly against him. This, the only defeat on his 22-fight record.

‘I’ve watched that fight again,’ he says. ‘To confirm my sense that I was the real winner. Not that it matters. That fight was ideal preparation for Joshua. For the noise of the English crowd. For fighting abroad. For preparing right for 12 round fights.’

Franklin does look trimmer, lighter, more toned than he did that night. So potentially even faster of foot and fist than he is by natural talent.

‘I hear Joshua say he has lived right all his life,’ he says. ‘I may have woken up later to all that. But in time. I’ve cut all red meat out of my diet. No more more steaks, burgers, rib stacks. I don’t even miss those any more because I feel so much better and sharper. And I knew already that I’m faster than AJ.

He was alerted, also, to the dangers of jet lag. ‘I delayed coming over for Whyte until only a few days before the fight. I was still feeling the time difference and could hardly do anything in the first four rounds. This time we’re here early. I’ve still had a bit of trouble sleeping but not enough to worry about.’

None of this comes with bombast. Franklin is softly spoken and mostly smiling. He doesn’t over-react when Joshua warns him that every time he says is going to knock him out ‘he’s digging a deeper grave for himself.’

Says Franklin: ‘Maybe he gets a bit mad when I say I’m going to sit him on his arse. Maybe I got to him a little bit. Probably he’s just trying to hype himself up for the fight. I don’t need to do that. I’m already excited. What he needs to know is that I’m not playing around. Everybody overlooks me – until they catch my punch. If he’s overlooking me, that’s his mistake.’

Franklin has put in a lengthy training camp in Morecambe with Tyson Fury, who Joshua is ear-marking as his prime target for a return to world title challenges. 

He says: ‘Tyson is a good man and a great boxer. He’s even bigger than Joshua so I’ve put in a lot of work against big men. At 6ft 6in Joshua is four inches taller than me but that won’t mean anything on the night.’

The 29-year-old American is relishing the biggest fight of his life on Saturday night

The 29-year-old American is relishing the biggest fight of his life on Saturday night

He doesn’t talk about retiring Joshua and is ‘open to a rematch if we are tied to that clause in the contract if he loses.’ 

But he does want to shake up the world heavyweight order which AJ describes as ‘becoming a shambles’ since his second defeat by Olesandr Usyk.

Franklin says: ‘At the moment Fury and Usyk are the top two. Followed by Deontay Wilder, Joshua and Andy Ruiz. All in that order. Me? About eight or nine. No lower than 10th. But beat Joshua and I’ll be ready for any of the champions.’

Should he defeat the odds, he would leave a large footprint of his own among the London landmarks he looks forward to visiting.

Joshua v Franklin will be televised live this Saturday night on DAZN

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