Anthony Joshua will face Jermaine Franklin on April 1 at the O2 Arena in London as he begins his comeback from back to back losses to Oleksandr Usyk.
The former unified world heavyweight champion is set for his first non-title fight in over seven years as he takes on the American contender who was last seen fighting Dillian Whyte in November.
AJ boxed at championship level for 12 straight fights before his run ended with Usyk taking his titles in 2021 and retaining them in their rematch last year.
Following his second loss to the Ukrainian, Joshua sparked concern with a bizarre in-ring speech before bursting into tears at the post-fight press conference.
While some suggested he needed a long break from boxing, the Brit instead insisted he wanted to jump right into a fight with Tyson Fury when the Gypsy King offered him for December .
Ultimately, the negotiations fell through and it didn’t materialize, prompting AJ to step away from the sport a bit more before making his comeback.
Franklin was 21-0 before becoming Whyte’s opponent last time out.
Although he ultimately lost by majority decision, some observers felt the American had done enough to deserve the win.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, made his feelings clear on the DAZN Boxing Show: “I want to say one thing – get ready for Anthony Joshua’s return.
“We live in a crazy world. This guy went racing where he beat Charles Martin, Dominic Breazeale, Eric Molina, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Carlos Takam, Andy Ruiz Jr, Kubrat Pulev and fought Oleksandr Usyk twice – no breaks, no nights easy.
“He’s coming off of a good fight with Usyk and another where he was outplayed, he fought number one pound for pound back to back.
“The disrespect on this man’s name is unbelievable. And I don’t care at the end of the day.
“But what I’m telling you, people who want to belittle his achievements, people who want to say he’s finished in the sport – get ready for Anthony Joshua’s return on April 1.”