Salita: Joshua's unwilling to die in the ring

Jermaine Franklin can secure a “life-changing victory” over Anthony Joshua because Joshua no longer “wants to die in the ring”, according to Dmitriy Salita.

The heavyweights fight on Saturday at the O2 Arena, and do so when significant uncertainty surrounds the relationship between Franklin and Salita, who has joined him in London regardless of the fact that Franklin has filed a lawsuit against Salita Promotions.

Salita has become an influential promoter since retiring from fighting – he once said he realised he ought to stop boxing when he was no longer willing “to die in the ring” – and he believes he can detect the same lack of desire in the 33-year-old Joshua.

After successive defeats by Oleksandr Usyk, in Derrick James, Joshua is working with his third trainer in three fights. He relocated to Dallas to prepare with James for Franklin, 29, and despite his losses to Usyk has accumulated relatively little punishment over the course of a career that has unfolded at the very top.

Salita, however, like numerous other observers at a time when Usyk and Tyson Fury are widely regarded as the world’s leading heavyweights, remains convinced Joshua is in decline. Franklin’s fast hands could yet trouble the former champion, and Salita told ProBox TV: “If Jermaine can make Anthony Joshua – give him some doubt – he’s going to win the fight and I believe stop him. 

“Jermaine just needs to make Joshua doubt himself, because I don’t think Anthony Joshua wants to die in the ring anymore.

“Jermaine Franklin, when he goes to sleep, when he wakes up, he thinks about beating Anthony Joshua, and he’s been thinking about being the number one heavyweight for a long time. There’s a significant difference in their mindsets, going into the fight.

“Joshua’s a phenomenal fighter and has been amazing for the sport of boxing. As a fan of the sport I feel bad talking bad about him, but I’m not really talking bad about him – I’m just being objective. 

“I don’t think – Anthony Joshua does not wake up in the morning thinking to himself, ‘I’ve gotta win this fight on April 1st’. Only when he goes to see a sports psychologist, and they talk through it, he’s thinking of ways to motivate himself – of how he can be successful and what he needs to do.

““I told Jermaine, ‘You’ll have a chance to be one of the best heavyweights in the world’. I’m very grateful that he got this opportunity [against Joshua]. 

“Against Dillian Whyte, even though he didn’t get the decision, he’s back again in one of the most significant fights. A life-changing opportunity for him again. Jermaine is very hungry. It’s life-changing for him. He’s been dreaming it; he’s very talented.”