Fight almost fell apart last minute, says insider

Boxing manager, Adrian Clark, has disclosed that Anthony Joshua looks ‘amazing’ under new trainer, Derrick James. Joshua is currently out in America preparing with James for his upcoming clash against Jermaine Franklin, reports

The Watford powerhouse acquired the services of the 2017 Ring Magazine trainer of the year after parting ways with previous lead, Robert Garcia. Joshua and Garcia had only been working together for four months before the split.

The pair linked up prior to AJ’s second fight with Oleksandr Usyk in August but after coming up short again, Joshua announced that he would be touring America in search of a new coach. Joshua is understood to have visited Virgil Hunter and James, opting to go with the latter.

Reports had flown around for weeks that James was heading up Joshua’s next camp, but that wasn’t officially confirmed until a press release for the Franklin fight on Monday spilt the beans. James is the mastermind behind the successes of modern greats Errol Spence Jr and Jermell Charlo.

He will be hoping he can reap similar rewards with Joshua. And according to Clark, those wheels appear to be in motion with the Brit looking extremely fast and mobile after only a few weeks with James.

“I wish and it’s something I’ve AJ and Derrick, I wish he would have captured Derrick in his 20s, just the way he looks now, and he’s only been there a couple of weeks,” he told Tha Boxing Voice. “But man, it’s crazy to see someone that big move that fast and he looks amazing with James.”

Meanwhile, Joshua’s fight against Franklin almost fell apart a day before it was officially announced. An unspecified issue meant both parties had to work through the night to get the deal done.

Following his spring showdown with Franklin, AJ is expected to box Dillian Whyte in June before a blockbuster clash with either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury to see out the year in December. But those plans nearly fell at the first hurdle.

No Smoke Boxing reported on Sunday that a contractual issue had threatened to derail Joshua’s next fight, which has since been confirmed by Franklin’s promoter, Dmitry Salita. Speaking to Boxing King Media, he said: “Like I said at the beginning of this interview, it’s not easy to make these big fights and it did get done at the eleventh hour that’s true and I’m happy that we got it over the line and the fight got done.”

It is unlikely that the issue had anything to do with Franklin’s monetary side of the deal. Express Sport understands that The 989 Assassin is set to receive a guaranteed purse of around £800,000 for the fight; a career-best payday and life-changing money for a man who was working a full-time job only last year.

Franklin was not always the frontrunner to box Joshua next though. Otto Wallin and Demsey McKean had been linked with the fight for a while, but lost out to the American due to their southpaw stances.

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