Jermaine Franklin continues to stake his claim as the young successor to Deontay Wilder
US contender is beginning to prove himself as heavyweight hope
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 05/07/19 6:34am
After Jermaine Franklin was named as a possible successor to WBC champion Deontay Wilder, the talented American heavyweight has started to make his name...
Back in January 2018, the Michigan man was picked out by Sky Sports from a crop of US contenders who were aiming to prove themselves as the future heir to Wilder, the heavy-handed WBC title holder from Alabama.
Wilder still sits near the summit of the division, having remained champion due to devastating victories and a fortunate draw with Tyson Fury.
But the landscape of the weight class has dramatically changed, with all four world titles currently based in America after Andy Ruiz Jr, a California-based Mexican, completed a stunning victory over Anthony Joshua in New York last month.
Franklin has also made notable strides in his career, adding three wins to an 18-fight unbeaten record, and the 25-year-old tops his first bill on July 12, facing a rival prospect in Jerry Forrest.
The former National Golden Gloves winner had reflected on the harsh reality of life as a rising heavyweight in the States, racking up wins in little-known venues away from the media spotlight.
He previously told Sky Sports: "In the boxing field, it's a little hard to get your shot, because of the people that you need to get your shot with. They just don't want to take the risk right now."
But Franklin has since teamed up with promoter Dmitriy Salita, who also oversees the career of undisputed women's middleweight champion Claressa Shields and undefeated Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin.
With the backing of a US TV network, Franklin received the chance to showcase his skills against Rydell Booker, a seasoned veteran who had gone the distance with three-weight world champion James Toney.
Franklin showed flashes of his ability in a wide points win, although admitted the benefits of a tough tutorial from Booker.
"I learned to have more self-control and patience in that fight," said Franklin. "Boxing is a tough sport and I think as a boxer, sometimes we try too hard to go for the knockout.
"I learned to stay patient, be calm, fight my fight and not rush things."
A week after Franklin's next fight, Britain's big names will take centre stage as Dillian Whyte battles Oscar Rivas on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with David Allen against David Price and Derek Chisora vs Artur Szpilka on a bumper O2 bill.
Salita has suggested that Franklin could boost his profile by targeting the likes of Allen or Chisora in Britain.
"Jermaine has the skills and heart of a champion and at some point would love to make a meaningful UK debut," said Salita.
But Franklin must firstly focus on his immediate task, extending his unbeaten record on the biggest stage of his career.
"For a while it seemed unreal, but I don't want to get too excited, so I'm trying to stay level-headed right now," he said.
"I picture a knockout or TKO. I'm not going to rush anything. I'm just going to fight my fight, but I feel I can get the KO if I stay calm. It'll come, it's inevitable."