By Fraser Cox
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with newly professional boxer, Joshua Frankham, cousin of the one and only, Tyson Fury. The young Super Welterweight signed with Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions a matter of months ago and was scheduled to make his debut on the undercard of Daniel Dubois versus Joe Joyce, April 11th, at the 02 Arena.
Having been forced to wait patiently for his highly anticipated first outing, Joshua is itching to jump into the ring and showcase his talent on Saturday night. Although he is commonly known as a cousin of the ‘Gypsy King’, Frankham is determined to create his own pathway and build a legacy.
Joshua started boxing at a young age and reveals that, at the time, it wasn’t necessarily his goal to turn professional. Upon spending a year away from the sport, and having time to consider his potential, Joshua decided to knuckle down and make a go of it. His talent soon became evident.
“I got into boxing when I was about 9 or 10-years-old. I was a little bit overweight, so my dad took me to the gym. I don’t think he ever really wanted me to box, it was just more to get the weight off. I ended up having a few bouts and did schoolboys. My first club was called Tadley, next, I moved to Pinewood Star; then, when I was about 15, we moved to the Ring amateur boxing club, which is where I won all my titles.
I wasn’t that good as a schoolboy boxer – never really trained hard. I got to 14, had a year off, and I thought: if I’m going to do it properly, I’m going to give it a go now. That was when we moved to the Ring boxing club. I was involved in every National final until I was 16 or 17. I had 27 amateur fights, only 6 losses. I probably had 6 or 7 of those fights as a schoolboy before I had the year off; the rest of them were from 15-years-old.
I’m only 21, I’ve got to take my time, but I think now is the perfect timing. I haven’t boxed for three years, so it’s been a while out of the ring – I’m looking forward to it.
At the minute I’m only doing four rounds, so I haven’t had to make a lot of adjustments, except for slipping and catching shots. The adjustments will start when I’m doing 6, 8, 10, 12 round fights and learning how to manage rounds properly.
I’m trained by Wayne Batten in Southampton. I live in Reading, but it’s only forty-five minutes from Southampton, so a trip down there every day isn’t too bad. I’ve been with Wayne about a year now. We’ve got a good stable at the minute: Mark Chamberlain, he’s had 6 or 7 fights and undefeated, big puncher. Ryan Garner, he’s a very good talent. My cousin, Levi Frankham, is about to turn professional as well; he won five or six national titles as an amateur. We’re all young prospects coming through.”
After securing the all-important signing with Frank Warren, Joshua was able to reap the benefits of ‘lockdown’, by combining elements of training as well as spending time with his family. He also looks ahead to what the remainder of the year could have in store.
“I always wanted to be with Frank Warren. We had a meeting and it all went well from there. I was supposed to have my debut on the Dubois versus Joyce card, which was scheduled to take place back in April. Obviously, that didn’t happen, so now we look forward to this one.
Tyson sent Frank a text saying: ‘Look after him’, so I’m forever grateful for that from Tyson.
I had an idea I’d be boxing in September about a month ago. I’ve been on and off throughout ‘lockdown’, but I’ve been in training camp for about 7 weeks. It’s been tough getting sparring partners and I’ve only been sparring for the last couple of weeks. It’s the only thing I could have had a bit more of, but, if I’m not ready now, I’m never going to be ready.
I didn’t mind ‘lockdown’. I was training every day with my brother, going on bike rides, chilling out and having barbeques. I spent more time with my family, too.
I just want to perform to the best of my ability and hopefully get the full four rounds in. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually boxed, so I’m expecting a little bit of ring rust.
I don’t want to rush anything, but I do want to keep as active as I can. I know this year’s going to be hard. Maybe I’ll end up with two or three fights. As long as I can get out a couple of times this year, I’ll be happy.”
Whilst the Super Welterweight division may not be the most talked about, it still possesses its fair share of quality operators. Joshua believes it is bursting with English talent.
“There are a lot of good fighters, especially in England. You’ve got the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Ted Cheeseman, Anthony Fowler and Troy Williamson. There are a lot of domestic fights in England to be made.”
Billy Joe Saunders, with whom Frank has spent time in camp, is continually being mentioned in the same breath as Canelo Álvarez and Callum Smith. Joshua is firmly backing Saunders to wipe the floor with anyone who dares to share a ring with him.
“I respect his decision to not take the Canelo fight. I think they were probably trying to cut his money a bit and only give him a few weeks to train. Canelo is probably the king of boxing, but a fit Billy Joe, with a good amount of time to train, beats all of them: Callum Smith, Canelo, Andrade. It’s a tough task and it’ll be very hard to get a decision against Canelo in Vegas. People said it would be impossible for Tyson to get a decision when he fought Klitschko, but look at what he did out there.”
After two-and-a-half years of inactivity, and a seemingly interminable battle with depression, Tyson Fury made his comeback to boxing. With Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta in his rear-view mirror, ‘The Furious One’ was yet again competing for the Heavyweight championship of the world.
Frankham, who was lucky enough to be involved in Tyson’s resurgence, has relished the opportunity to absorb valuable information from some of the best fighters in the sport. He also relives the highs and lows of being ringside for Fury and Wilder’s jaw-droppingly exciting first clash.
“I’ve been close to Tyson for the last five to seven years. He’s like a mate and we speak a couple of times a week. I think he’s done amazingly well with his comeback. A lot of people doubted him, and he’s proved them wrong.
I was on the comeback camp in Marbella with him and Ben Davison, when he was at his heaviest. I also was in parts of the camp for the Schwartz fight, so I’ve always been around Tyson for the last few years. I’ve learnt things from him, Billy Joe Saunders and Isaac Lowe. I did a few non-competitive rounds with Billy Joe over in Marbella. Those guys are where I want to be, so being able to learn from them is very good.
I was ringside for Fury-Wilder one at the Staples Center. It was a night full of ups and downs. When he got knocked down in the 12th round, my brother and I both turned away thinking it was done. He then got up and ended up winning the rest of the round, it was unbelievable. How he got up, I don’t know.
I thought it was a shutout. I’m good pals with Paulie Malignaggi and I was texting him while the fight was on. He was ringside broadcasting for Showtime, and he said to me after the fight that he had Fury five rounds up. My brother and I were celebrating at the time, but when we heard it was a draw, it was quite a shock.”
About a month before the UK was devastatingly forced into ‘lockdown’, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder came to blows for an historical second time, in ‘Sin City’. During the lead-up to the fight, Fury parted company with his trainer - and very good friend - Ben Davison. Frankham was somewhat surprised by his cousin’s bold decision.
“I was a little bit shocked when he split with Ben Davison, but Tyson knew what he wanted to do. At the end of the day, it’s the fighter’s choice and I think it was the right decision. He had the gameplan to go in and take him out and it worked.
I thought he was crazy when he was saying that he was going to walk down Wilder. I suppose you have to bully the bully – only he knew he could do that. He’s now beaten two of the biggest punchers of all time, Klitschko and Wilder. Not bad for pillow fists.
I went to Vegas with my brother, cousin and their wives. The whole occasion was unbelievable, even until the next day, getting to hold his belts. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
We went to an Irish pub the day after the fight with Tyson, but there were a lot of people there, as you can imagine, so we ended up going back to his room at the MGM.”
He may be young, but Joshua has certainly been around the block. The 21-year-old details his experiences, hanging out with some of the world’s most recognised names.
“I went running with Manny Pacquiao which is something that I’ll never forget. Meeting Floyd Mayweather as well, I mean, when do you ever get to meet him?...
When I met Mark Wahlberg, I was with Tyson at a restaurant in London. I looked over the back and said: “Oh, it’s Mark Wahlberg”. Tyson replied: “Yes, I know him”; I said: “Shut up you know him”; Tyson replied: “I promise you”. Mark then came over and said: “Hello champ, how are you doing?” That’s just the calibre of people that Tyson is in with now. I would have to say meeting Mayweather was favourite out of all of them.”