Mourning Franklin battling grief as well as Joshua

The sudden death of his godmother means Jermaine Franklin is preparing for the biggest fight of his career while resisting the urge to grieve.

Franklin, 29, on Saturday fights Anthony Joshua at London’s O2 Arena, the same venue where in November he was perhaps unfortunate to record a majority decision defeat by Dillian Whyte.

That he is fighting one of the world’s highest-profile and most marketable fighters already means he is having to contend with circumstances and potential distractions he has never previously known, and just before the start of his biggest ever fight week he learned of the death of one of the most important figures in his life.

“It was kind of hard to take,” he said. “I didn’t think it was real. I kind of thought my mum was lying. I just put the phone down – I really didn’t wanna talk. So I just, really, went to sleep. I called her Booba – that was her nickname.

“I just had to put it to the back [of my mind] until I get back home and be able to [start the] debriefing process.”

Franklin believes he is in the region of 20lbs lighter for the 33-year-old Joshua than he was for Whyte. He is also not troubled by jet lag in the way that he was on the last occasion he fought in London, and insists that, unlike Andy Ruiz Jr – who recorded a life-changing victory over Joshua in 2019 before being underprepared for their rematch, which Joshua won – he will remain driven and lean.

“I’m still going through [jet lag] a little bit but it’s been way easier,” the American said. “Last time I couldn’t probably do anything for like four rounds – I’d feel like I’d been in the gym the whole day. My body would just be extremely exhausted. I had no energy. But now I have more energy than I did, and I’m able to do more. It’s just been a problem sleeping, ‘cause of the timezone difference.

“[Ruiz Jr] just dropped the ball completely. I like Andy but I don’t know if he had people in his ear, or was it just the lights that got to him? But he dropped the ball.”

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