While fans watched on as Anthony Joshua was being completely outclassed in his first match-up against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk – for many people – it wasn’t the unanimous decision result which was the most perplexing facet of the fight.
Although Joshua entered the bout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the boxing bets favourite last September, his opponent’s undeniable skill and incredible ring generalship always posed a threat to the Brit’s reign as the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion.
However, what many couldn’t predict was the subpar and confusing advice Joshua was receiving from his corner during and in-between rounds. As the television broadcast picked up a member of Joshua’s team shouting “beautiful AJ” throughout much of the fight, it became clear that the 32-year-old wasn’t made aware of just how far behind he was on the scorecards.
Additionally, the instructions long-time trainer and friend Robert McCracken provided Joshua when on the stool was just as poor. He consistently reassured his fighter that he was in control and winning the contest, giving AJ a false sense of security that he was in the driver’s seat as they headed into the championship rounds.
That ultimately led to McCracken and his team being stood down as Joshua’s trainers for the upcoming rematch with Usyk on August 20th in Saudi Arabia. Instead, Joshua has chosen to employ the services of esteemed Mexican-American trainer Robert Garcia, who has vowed to bring back the aggressive and brutal Joshua in what is a must-win fight for the Watford native.
A former professional boxer himself, Garcia too reached the summit in the sport of boxing in 1998 when he won the IBF super featherweight title against Harold Warren. He went on to defend his title a further two times, before losing the belt in a considerable upset to Diego Corrales the following year. Although he had a fantastic career inside the ring in his own right, it’s his achievements as a trainer that has garnered him a reputation as one of the best minds in boxing.
Garcia has trained 20 current and former world champions during his career to date, most notably which include four-division world champion Nonito Donaire, former WBA champion Marcos Maidana, current WBC super flyweight champion Jesse Rodriguez, and brother and recently retired four-division world champion Mikey Garcia.
That level of experience is something Joshua will look to lean on when he takes on the classy southpaw – and Garcia has already made his intentions clear by stating that he will be implementing a vastly different gameplan when the two meet this time around.
“You know what? I think he wasn’t thinking and prepared to win the fight (Joshua v Usyk 1),” Garcia said.
“From what he told me – he was just thinking of going all 12 rounds. He never thought, ‘I got to win this fight.’ So that makes a big difference.
“Now he’s thinking of winning and thinking of hurting somebody. That’s the most important thing, he’s got to be confident with his team.
“He’s got to be with a team that wants him to win, wants him to perform, and wants him to be a little bit tougher. I think that’s what I bring in.
“Me and Angel Fernandez are pushing him to be aggressive, to be a mean guy in the ring, to hurt anyone in front of him. He’s been doing that lately, and I’m very happy and pleased with how things are going.”
With a new trainer and a more destructive Joshua expected in the rematch, it will be interesting to see whether that tightens the Joshua vs Usyk betting line as we approach fight night.