The O2 is nearly packed to capacity as we await the fighters’ ringwalks. In the meantime, let’s pour one out for the great Ken Buchanan, the former undisputed world lightweight champion from Scotland who passed away this morning.
Fabio Wardley has seen off Michael Coffie in the final undercard bout of the night. The British heavyweight champion was unloading his American foe along the ropes when referee Harold Foster intervened at the 0:45 mark of the fourth round. A very premature stoppage, surely. Next up: Anthony Joshua v Jermaine Franklin.
Hello and welcome to the O2 Arena for tonight’s non-title fight between Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin. It’s the textbook definition of a crossroads bout for Joshua, the former two-time world champion who is coming off consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist desperately needs a career-reviving performance against Franklin, a fringe contender from Saginaw, Michigan, who earned his shot as Joshua’s comeback opponent by giving Dillian Whyte a scare in November.
“We can’t look back,” Joshua said this week. “We’re only looking forward and I see a bright future and that kind of keeps me in good spirits.”
The 33-year-old Joshua will come in at the heaviest fighting weight of his career after tipping the scales at 255.4lb (115.8kg) yesterday. That is nearly 11lb (5kg) heavier than his last fight, the August rematch against Usyk.
Franklin weighed in at 234.1lb (106.2kg), or 23lb (10.5kg) lighter than when he lost for the first time in his career to Whyte last year.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Donald McRae’s lookahead to tonight’s main event at the O2.