Tempers flared post-fight after former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua‘s twelve-round decision win against Jermaine Franklin on Saturday.
London’s Joshua returned to his old stomping ground at the O2 Arena in his first fight since a split-decision rematch defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in August.
The Briton, who was competing in his first non-title fight since 2015, started the contest behind a prodding left jab as he felt his way into the bout.
Michigan’s Franklin upped the pace in the third as he looked to counter Joshua’s jab.
The response appeared to concern a tentative Joshua who looked hesitant to throw his right hand in fear of what might come back from the American.
Joshua was winning rounds but did not look likely to force the stoppage that many felt he needed if he was to move towards fights against the likes of WBC champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
The second half of the bout saw increased holding by Franklin, preventing Joshua from getting his shots off on the inside.
The Brit appeared increasingly frustrated with the approach the longer the fight drew on, often looking for both the referee and his corner as he struggled to pin Franklin down.
Joshua’s best round came in the tenth when he finally backed Franklin up behind an authoritative jab and backed him up towards the ropes.
Accurate shots to both head and body looked to have rocked the Michigan man but Franklin held firm to see out the remainder of the round.
The final two rounds saw more clinching from the American before the final bell sounded.
Joshua, in acknowledgement of his opponent’s efforts, tapped the head of Franklin before making his way back to his corner before suddenly turning to approach the American.
The pair came together in a scrum before they were separated by security and referee Marcus McDonnell.
Former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew, who was on punditry duty for DAZN, also clashed with a member of Franklin’s team ringside.
Heads soon cleared before Joshua was announced a wide unanimous winner on all three scorecards (118-111 and 117-111 x2).
The 33-year-old was back to winning ways but the hesitant performance is unlikely to strike fear in the hearts of the aforementioned Fury and Wilder as well as fellow Brit Joe Joyce.