Up-and-coming American heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin is one of many young fighters to have their momentum temporarily halted by COVID-19.
However, despite the current circumstances, Franklin is doing the best he can to stay ready for his return.
“It’s affected us tremendously because you have to worry about your health and the health of the people you’re around to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. All the gyms are closed, so it’s kind of hard to work out. But I’ve been working out at home, trying to stay fit, not get too much out of shape,” Franklin stated.
Boxing may return this year, but there’s a strong possibility that that return may be limited, as many in the sports world are entertaining the idea of athletes competing without spectators in attendance. While Franklin is willing to fight no matter what, he does acknowledge that the absence of fans might be hard to get used to.
“I’m not gonna lie, it will feel weird because I actually get a lot of energy from the fans, even though you can’t hear each one individually, I still get some adrenaline from the fans. I think it would be possible [to compete without spectators], it would just be a little weird and I’d have to adjust to it.”
The 26-year-old Saginaw, Michigan native has amassed a record of 20 wins and 0 losses, with 13 of those wins coming by way of knockout. Franklin also had a decorated amateur career before turning pro, winning the National Golden Gloves tournament in 2014.
Now fighting under the Salita Promotions banner, Franklin is coming off of his most high-profile year in 2019, with three consecutive fights on ShoBox: The Next Generation. Those fights were each 10-round decision wins against Rydell Booker, Jerry Forrest, and Pavel Sour.
But like most young prospects, Franklin is looking forward to bigger and better names on the resume, although he acknowledges that he may need one or two tune-ups before then. “I wanted someone with a name so that way I can make a push for these titles either this year or next year, but this pandemic kind of put a hold on everything,” says Franklin.
Ranked #8 in the United States and #30 in the world rankings by Boxrec, Franklin is also on the verge of breaking into the top 15 in the World Boxing Association (WBA), which would bring him closer to a shot at the belt. The current WBA heavyweight titleholder is British boxing superstar Anthony Joshua, who also holds the WBO and the IBF titles.
Franklin does have one name in mind though: heavyweight contender and former U.S. Olympian Michael Hunter, who is coming off of a draw against Alexander Povetkin in December of 2019.
“I think the best fight for my career right now is Michael Hunter, he’s ranked higher than me right now on the WBA list [#8 currently] and we’re probably the top two American heavyweights on the list, so I think the people would like to see that.”
Though he is currently on the WBA route, one world title simply would not be enough for Franklin.
“Everyone wants the WBC, and to me it’s the biggest title, but I honestly want them all. Back in the day there was only one belt and everyone only fought for the one belt, but they made the [other belts] so I want ‘em.”
Self-described as a boxer-puncher, Franklin attributes his fighting style to a collection of different fighters he’s observed over the years. Despite being a heavyweight, Franklin has a style that consists of combination punching and quick footwork. He has also already displayed his stamina, having gone the 10 round distance in each of his last 3 fights.
“I honestly take stuff from everybody that I like. The hardest thing for me right now is trying to mimic Lomachenko’s footwork. I know I can mimic it to a degree, although he’s way faster. But if I can move light and step around like that on my toes, no other heavyweight would be able to pivot and turn like that.”
Franklin hopes that boxing will return within the next few months, acknowledging that he’s “going crazy” under the current social distancing guidelines.
“They’re probably going to give us a tune-up or two when boxing comes back. Everyone’s not 100% so they’ll probably try to revive everybody first and then come with some big fights. As a sport, we’re kind of desperate since we've been on hold. All the fans are waiting to see something big. I think boxing is going to give us [fighter] a tune-up or two and then they’ll get the big fights started.”
Credit to Mlive & RingTV for the photos