Tuesday, March 21, 2023  |


Jermaine Franklin wants to pay back supporters by becoming a heavyweight success

Photo by Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

Jermaine Franklin could have headed in different directions throughout his teenage years. Rather than a life of uncertainty and hanging with the wrong crowd, Franklin is glad that family, friends and the city of Saginaw, Michigan kept him on the straight and narrow.

Franklin is aiming to make those people proud as he continues down a path towards a world title opportunity.

The undefeated heavyweight prospect will square off tonight against Jerry Forrest at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington. The 10-round bout will headline a three-bout ‘ShoBox’ telecast that will air live on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

At Thursday’s weigh-in, Franklin weighed 240.25 pounds. Forrest weighed in at 222.75 pounds.

The 25-year-old Franklin (18-0, 13 knockouts) defeated fringe contender Rydell Booker in his last bout on Apr. 13 in Atlantic City. The fight also aired on Showtime.

Franklin will face another stern test in Forrest (25-2, 19 KOs), who resides from Newport News, Virginia. Forrest has won his last 18 bouts against average opposition in a span of over five years.

Just like in the Booker fight, Franklin wants to display an improved skill-set and make a statement at the same time.

“I want to show I can box and not necessarily have to knock (Forrest) out,” Franklin told The Ring over the phone Wednesday night. “He’s decent. He comes straight forward and he’s kind of slow. He stands in front of you from the videos that I’ve watched. He’s going to be a target so I want to establish the jab early and mix my combinations. I’m not going in there to necessarily try and knock him out.”

Franklin is hoping an impressive victory over Forrest win will springboard him into the rankings of all major sanctioning bodies. Franklin believes he is more a contender than a prospect at this stage of his career.

His goal of fighting for a world title as early as next year is, in his opinion, not out of the question.

“I really believe I’m a contender right now,” said Franklin, who is promoter by former junior welterweight contender Dmitriy Salita. “I want to make use of this opportunity (tonight) on Showtime, not to overlook my opponent, but to demonstrate that I’m indeed a contender. I believe I can fight for a world title belt in the next year or two.”

Photo by Dave Mandel/SHOWTIME

Franklin cites Andy Ruiz’s upset victory over Anthony Joshua last month as evidence the heavyweight division is wide open, especially with many unbeaten fighters angling for an opportunity to face either Ruiz, Joshua, WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury.

“There are a lot of contenders hoping to get that shot against either fighter. Andy Ruiz showed that any heavyweight can win. I just hope I get an opportunity as well.”

Franklin was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, not far from Detroit where he trains. Franklin represents both cities, but Saginaw is his first love.

Not long ago, Franklin had a few distractions that could have easily pulled him away from boxing. With the help of family, friends, teachers, and coaches, Franklin was able to continue focusing on boxing. Franklin is grateful to all those who had an important impact in his life, and is very motivated to win a world title belt.

“The city of Saginaw has really supported me. They’ve become big boxing supporters after what I’ve accomplished thus far in my career. I couldn’t have done it without the support, including my teachers, coaches and community leaders. They made sure I didn’t pick up bad habits and kept me in boxing.”

“There is a boxing scene in Detroit and I want to give Michigan another world champion. I’m going to put on a show (tonight).”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing