ANTHONY JOSHUA will return to the ring against American Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on April 1.
The two-time world heavyweight champion, 33, has not fought since losing to Oleksandr Usyk for a second time in Saudi Arabia five months ago.
AFPAnthony Joshua has not won since beating Kubrat Pulev in December 2020[/caption]
GettyJermaine Franklin, right, lost a close decision to Dillian Whyte in November[/caption]
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist was then linked with a December clash against long-time British rival Tyson Fury.
But when talks broke down, it quickly became apparent Joshua would not return to the ring until 2023.
Now The Mail are claiming the paperwork for an AJ-Franklin clash is set to be signed on Monday afternoon.
The financials for the fight have been agreed, with the deal expected to be finalised imminently.
It will see Joshua return to the O2 Arena for the first time since he beat Dominic Breazeale in June 2016.
And he will be looking to secure a first win in more than two years when he faces Franklin in a make-or-break heavyweight dust-up.
Franklin, 29, saw his unbeaten pro record end with a majority decision defeat to Dillian Whyte back in November.
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The Michigan-born boxer felt he did enough to win the fight – with one judge scoring it 115-115 – but the other two officials gave it 116-112 in Whyte’s favour,
Despite the loss, Franklin’s promoter, Dmitry Salita, has insisted his man would beat Joshua.
He said: “Joshua, coming off two losses, changing trainers, is vulnerable.
‘Let’s be honest. Jermaine realises it. He feels like he has his own future and path.
“He’s ready to go out there and score the upset. Some feel like it could be an upset, and some don’t. But Jermaine’s going out there looking to score the win.
“After, he wants the rematch with Dillian Whyte, and then he wants to fight the winner of [Tyson] Fury vs. Usyk.”
A loss for Joshua against Franklin could end his hopes of becoming a three-time heavyweight champion.
It will be AJ’s first non-world title bout since 2015 when he knocked out Whyte to win the British crown.