Anthony Joshua has brought in a new trainer, American Robert Garcia, to prepare him for his crucial rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk handed Joshua a punishing 12-round defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September to win the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles.
Joshua pushed for the rematch, which will take place in Saudi Arabia on August 20, but has made changes to his corner. He parted from long-time coach Robert McCracken and Robert Garcia has joined his training team.
Chris Algeri has trained with Garcia himself and understands the logic of the decision. “Pedigree for one. One thing about Robert, he’s a consummate professional. He gives his guys so much of himself. A trainer, a former fighter and former world champion as well, he understands what a fighter needs,” Algieri told Sky Sports.
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Anthony Joshua says he is hungry for the talking to end so he can get in the ring and ‘do his job’ against Oleksandr Usyk.
“I initially was surprised that was happening, that Robert was going to train AJ. Because Robert is not known for training heavyweights. He doesn’t have a lot of heavyweights in his gym. But as I thought more about it, in terms of my personal relationship and also my professional relationship with Robert, it makes sense.
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“He’s one of those guys, he understands the fight game. He has an eye that’s very special, that he can see things in the ring, that he can see talent in certain fighters. He’s the kind of guy personality-wise when you speak to him it’s: I trust this man, he’s going to look out for me, he’s going to do what needs to be done. So it makes sense from that point of view. Maybe not so much on paper but in terms of personality it does.”
Garcia can have an impact on Joshua, although their new partnership only has limited time to gel.
“To get real change in a fighter in one fight, in one camp is truly, truly difficult, especially someone at the level of AJ,” Algieri explained.
Anthony Joshua must make changes for his second fight with Oleksandr Usyk. (Photo: Saudi Ministry of Sport)
“But again speaking to the athleticism of AJ and the personality of Robert Garcia, if they are connected, bonded up here [mentally], in terms of their abilities to communicate. Listen, boxing a lot of time a lot of it is simple. It’s fundamentals.
“But semantics matters, if AJ understands what Robert’s saying whole-heartedly and believes in him, that he’s giving him the right instruction, he can make a difference. If there is any kind of communication issue, [there’s] not enough time.”
Joshua’s style of fighting and how he might change his approach for the Usyk rematch has come under intense scrutiny. Garcia, Algieri believes, might confound expectations. He doesn’t have to train Joshua to fight the same way as, say Brandon Rios, one of Garcia’s former charges.
“People on the outside are saying, ‘He’s got that Brandon Rios style, [so Joshua] is going to come forward, he can use his physicality, he’s the bigger man.’ Rios at 135lbs was a monster. He was just running through guys and beating them up. So a lot of people could think that that would be the way that an AJ would beat Usyk. But I don’t necessarily agree,” Algieri said.
Ahead of his rematch against Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua jokes that every time Tyson Fury predicts he will lose a fight he ends up winning it!
“I don’t think AJ is that type of fighter. I don’t think he’s that durable, punching tank-like guy who’s going to come forward and give as good as he gets. I still believe that he is a great athlete and boxer, so he can go out there and be a boxer-puncher, a true boxer-puncher.
“If he just tries to box Usyk he’s going to lose, he’s going to get outboxed. But if he’s a boxer-puncher, which he actually naturally is, I think he stands a good chance.
“The good thing there is that Robert Garcia was a boxer-puncher when he fought. Even though he trained Brandon Rios the way he did that wasn’t the way Robert fought. Robert was very, very smart, he had power and boxed his way to knockouts. Very similar to how his brother Mikey boxed. So utilising that ability and game plan I think makes perfect sense for AJ in his rematch with Usyk.”