JERMAINE FRANKLIN has vowed to add Anthony Joshua to his "body count" in a chilling warning ahead of their fight.
The heavyweight pair have agreed to an April 1 bout at the O2 Arena with negotiations now nearing the final stages.
Joshua, 33, is coming off consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk, 36, and returns with his career and reputation on the line.
Meanwhile Franklin, 29, comes back to London as an outsider again having lost a disputed decision to Dillian Whyte, 34, in November.
But the fearless American is out for redemption in the capital with AJ now his new target.
Franklin posted on Instagram: "I'm ready for all the smoke. Big news coming up this week.
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"I don’t play box! Time for the 989 assassin to take aim on body count #22 April 1.
Franklin looks to have beaten southpaw duo Otto Wallin, 32, and Demsey McKean, 32, in the race to welcome Joshua back to the ring.
And following his performance against Whyte, in which many felt he should have won, Eddie Hearn defended AJ's decision to face him.
Promoter Hearn told Boxing Social: “I think Jermaine Franklin is a great fight.
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"Nothing’s signed or agreed yet, but Franklin’s just come off the back of a very close fight with Dillian Whyte, and some people felt like he won that fight.
"I’ve seen the majority of responses from sane people on social media, who are saying, 'that’s a good fight to come back to.'
"I just don’t understand some people’s criticism of AJ. He’s just fought Oleksandr Usyk twice.
"If he fights Demsey Mckean, Otto Wallin or Jermaine Franklin – I don’t understand what more people want.
"He’s coming back, working with a new trainer and getting a foothold in the heavyweight division.
"Jermaine Franklin is a dangerous fight, he’s full of confidence and coming off a great performance against Dillain Whyte."
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