Jermaine Franklin has undoubtedly been waiting a long time. The Saginaw, Michigan native has been fighting professionally for about eight years and has competed in 22 fights, but he has been patiently waiting for a huge opportunity.
Before traveling across the Atlantic to Wembley Stadium for a long-awaited shot at the big time—in this case, a match with recently unsuccessful title challenger Dillian Whyte—he spent his first seven years and 20 fights working the sport's less-noticed back rooms in towns like Youngstown, Tacoma, and Flint.
It didn't work out for Franklin in the short term because of a majority decision loss that he considers to be a robbery, but now that the 29-year-old has hooked an even bigger fish in the form of the reigning two-time champion Anthony Joshua, it may offer a significant long-term dividend.
“I’m ready to show the world why it’s time for me to take my place at the top of the heavyweight division,” Franklin said. “Joshua had his time. It’s my time to shock the world. This fight isn’t going to the judge’s card. I will have win No. 22 come April 1. That ain’t no April Fool’s joke.”
Franklin won 17 fights before competing in Atlantic City in April 2019. He won the 10-round match against Rydell Booker. Later he won another fight against Jerry Forrest. After that, he had trouble with his management and money and had to work a full-time job. He returned to fighting in May 2022 and won against Rodney Moore. He then went to London in November to fight Whyte, which was not exactly what he had planned, but it showed his skills.
Franklin's next opponent, Joshua, is taller and has a longer reach. Joshua also has a better record with 22 wins out of 24 fights and is ranked higher by the WBC. However, Joshua has lost 3 out of his last 5 fights and Franklin has won against opponents who have lost only a few times.
And if he defeats Joshua, who has been pegged as anything between an 8-to-1 and a 12-to-1 favorite, he won't be difficult to track down. Franklin signed a contract with Salita Promotions before the end of 2018 and anticipates that the partnership will soon produce household name benefits.
“In my mind I am the best heavyweight in the world,” he said. “I may be 6-foot-2, but my heart and skills are 8 feet tall. Not too many fighters are going to measure up to that. Boxing is about balance. I am a balanced athlete who's also strong, fast, athletic, and getting fitter and better with each fight.
“I expect (recognition) to happen very shortly. Salita Promotions is doing everything to make that happen. That is why I'm happy that I signed with Dmitriy and his company. They have made me feel like my dream will come true and let the world know who I am.”