Despite having his own fight incoming, heavyweight contender Jermaine Franklin is looking forward to this weekend’s unified heavyweight championship bout between WBC titlist Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, holder of the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

Saginaw, Michigan’s Franklin is 22-2 (14 KOs) and hoping to get back among the big fights. Next Thursday, he takes on veteran Devin Vargas on the latest Dmitry Salita-promoted show at the Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit.

Franklin has had a taste of the big time, losing decisions to Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua in the U.K. He still disputes the decision in the Whyte fight today, after losing on a majority at the back end of 2022, but that doesn’t alter his enthusiasm for Saturday.

“Yeah, I’m always excited to see big fights,” the 30-year-old Franklin said of this weekend’s main event. “Not only am I in the sport, I’m a fan of the sport, so I’m always excited when these big cards come together and I get a chance to witness it.”

Franklin, incidentally, can make cases for both fighters to win.

“With me, I like Tyson’s jab and I like his timing, so I feel if he can establish his timing, use his reach, create distance and don’t let Usyk get past the distance for the majority for the fight, I think he controls it and he wins the fight – just off the jab and controlling the space,” said Franklin.

“But if he lets Usyk come inside-outside, Usyk has the speed and the feet that’s going to be quick enough to get punches off, turn angles and still punch and be in your face and punching and move outside of your space.

“If they let Usyk get in there and get the work in like they let Usyk do in the Joshua fight, I think Fury might have a long night. But if he gets in there and establishes his dominance and reach early, I think he can pull through.”

Fury’s last fight saw him climb off the floor to outpoint Francis Ngannou, narrowly, last October in Saudi Arabia. Some figure that marked a decline in the 35-year-old, and others felt Fury was unmotivated and did not train properly for the former MMA star, who was making his professional boxing debut.

“It’s hard to say,” Franklin said. “Styles make fights. Us in the boxing world are new to Francis Ngannou. There’s nothing much we could tell you about the guy. That’s like someone new coming to the boxing world: it’s hard to gauge it. It’s different when you can study someone and have film of them and stuff you can watch and look out for.”

Joshua is out in Saudi Arabia ahead of the heavyweight superfight this weekend, and Franklin was competitive with Joshua when they boxed last April. Joshua then linked up with trainer Ben Davison, and has subsequently impressed against Otto Wallin and then in destroying Ngannou. Some speculate that Davison has reignited something within Joshua, but Franklin also believes critics want to say he fought a worse version of Joshua rather than giving him credit.

“I think it’s a case of both,” Franklin said. “I think he has improved. I still think people underestimate, they downplay me and my skills, so they don’t think I put up that great of a fight or they don’t think I did the necessary things to make him have a bad fight. But it is what it is. That’s the sport. I feel like he’s improved.”

Joshua now has a newfound momentum on the back of those two victories, and there could be clamor for him to face the winner of Saturday’s fight, particularly if it’s fellow Brit Fury rather than Usyk, who holds two victories over him.

“I think him and Fury is a good fight,” added Franklin. “I think Usyk is more of a handful for [Joshua] than him being a handful for Usyk. As we’ve seen in his two fights, unless you can stop him from turning around the body, he’s the problem, you’re not the problem.

“There are adjustments [Joshua] would have to make for that Usyk fight; the feet is probably the biggest thing, because Usyk dances around. He hits you, he’s in and out, turning angles, so it’s hard for a big guy to be able to keep turning and keep up with that.”

Read the full article here