By Frank Warren

WITH ANTHONY JOSHUA not really putting his best foot forward on Saturday night it is now nearly time for a Juggernaut to steamroller his way towards the very top of the heavyweight division.

On the evidence of what I saw from The O2, the days of Joshua reigning supreme over the heavy mob are pretty much over. I am not saying he is a busted flush but, from what I can make out, he does appear to be becoming a diminishing force on the global stage.

Jermaine Franklin would have been drafted in to boost the confidence of the former unified champion following three defeats in his last five fights. The event was designed to make him look good, show he is still a force to be reckoned with and encourage the public to demand a heavyweight showdown against the likes of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.

Instead of banishing demons, old nagging doubts have resurfaced and wise counsel is suggesting he takes a couple more routine assignments.

Let’s put it this way, I am not anticipating an urgent call to open negotiations for a Tyson title defence against Joshua in the near future. I might be wrong, so we will see, I am all ears.

It wasn’t the worst performance, but the boxing world wanted to see Joshua throw off the shackles of self-doubt and recapture his former glories. Instead he now seems mired in caution over fear of either being chinned or gassing out, which tends to have the same end result.

His jab was decent and he maintained an even tempo across the 12 rounds, but there was little to suggest he is about to gatecrash the top echelon of the heavyweights again any time soon.

The exact opposite can be said of Big Joe Joyce. Our man, the WBO Interim world champion, is back in a genuine heavyweight showdown on April 15 at the Copper Box Arena against the Big Bang, Zhilei Zhang.

It is a fight that brings with it real jeopardy and falls nicely into the ‘must watch’ category. The Chinese giant is coming in off a ‘loss’ against the highly-touted Filip Hrgovic but, outside of the Croatian’s team, I have yet to come across anyone who thinks Zhang didn’t win that IBF final eliminator.

Zhang now gets the chance to jump the queue with the WBO, while Joe has abandoned caution by taking on a proper fight while he waits to cash in his interim chips for the hard currency of a full world championship belt.

I believe Joe is now an elite heavyweight and ready to storm through the division. The public would love to see him in with the likes of Tyson, Deontay Wilder, Oleksandr Usyk and Joshua, with a sizeable majority tipping him to emerge successful.

If he does a job on Zhang, it might well be the case that he will tempt Tyson into a defence of his WBC treasure. Tyson is overseas at the moment so I will be catching up with him soon to plot out his next moves.

As far as Usyk is concerned, his next assignment is mapped out already and goes by the name of Daniel Dubois.

I know there has been some convenient conjecture over Daniel’s fitness following the knee injury he sustained last time out, but he is fighting fit, ready to go and will not let his opportunity for a triple title assault pass.

We are currently in talks over where and when and I am majorly confident that Daniel can live up to his obvious promise and overwhelm the highly-skilled Ukrainian. He possesses the tools to do it, his jab is a potent weapon and any heavyweight in the world is in big bother if he lands on them.

So with Joyce-Zhang and Usyk-Dubois firmly in the pipeline, we are in the process of putting together a blockbuster run of heavyweight fights, especially when we get Tyson up and running again.

I also noticed that David Adeleye was putting himself about a bit in the build-up to the Joshua fight, reminding the British champion Fabio Wardley that his ownership of the Lonsdale belt could well be a short-lived affair.

I would be more than happy to make a fight between them become a reality and I believe David has got the beating of him. I am hopeful that the Board will mandate the fight, which would give potential negotiations a welcome nudge in the right direction.

So watch this space. The Queensberry heavyweight brigade is mobilising and ready to take over.

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