‘Anthony Joshua has gone backwards and I’d knock him and Jermaine Franklin out’

WBO interim heavyweight champion Joe Joyce believes Anthony Joshua has gone "backwards" and vowed he would knock out both AJ and Jermaine Franklin.

Joyce, who is set to fight Zhilei Zhang later this month, was not impressed with Joshua's display in his comeback fight against Franklin. Joshua won the bout by unanimous decision and admitted even he was unhappy with his performance after failing to stop Franklin.

"No knockout, so no good," he told BBC Sport. "It is a brutal sport, but knockouts are everything. I'm not too happy. I could have thrown more shots, and I should have, no excuses."

And while Joyce admitted Franklin was a "tough" opponent, he branded Joshua's performance "disappointing" and insisted he has "overtaken" him. "I'd knock both of them out with their performance the other night," Joyce told Sky Sports.

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"I'd definitely force a stoppage on Franklin and Joshua's ripe for the picking. Not great but [Joshua] got the job done.

"He went 12 rounds, I thought he would come with some more firepower and aim to push a stoppage but he wasn't really putting shots together. He was [using] single shots and boxed kind of like he did in the [Andy] Ruiz second fight.

"So it was a little bit disappointing. He seems to have gone, in my opinion, a bit backwards. Hasn't progressed. I think he lacked the combinations but I think Franklin was a tough guy."

As the WBO's interim heavyweight champion, Joyce will cement his status as the mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk's official version of the belt if he defeats Zhang. As a result, the 37-year-old believes Joshua should be desperate for a fight against him.

"That would be his route back in," he added. "It would definitely be his way back in because I'm in front of him now, at last, high up the rankings and obviously got the WBO Interim.

"I was always trying to catch up with him but now I've overtaken him, so that's good. That's what I wanted. But I haven't caught up to him financially yet so I need to have those big fights!"


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