Former two-time heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua has at least partly adopted some old-school methods of training as he nears his latest ring comeback. Ahead of his must-win April 1 fight with Jermain Franklin, Joshua has been emulating the old fashioned strength and conditioning techniques 1970s heavyweight legend Earnie Shavers used to build his power as well as his stamina.
Shavers used to chop down trees, and now Joshua, working under new trainer Derrick James James, has been doing the same thing.
“I was doing some research on boxing and I came across Earnie Shavers,” Joshua told Talk Sport. “Maybe other fighters did it back in the day, but Earnie Shavers is known as one of the strongest punchers out there. He just said he used to chop wood, that was their form of S and C (strength and conditioning). I have been focusing more on like old-school methods. So yeah, chopping trees and chopping wood is good for rotational power and all that type of stuff. I just took it on board and it makes good instagram content.”
Shavers may have chopped down plenty of trees as he trained for his big fights, yet Shaver’s legendary punching power was something he was simply born with. Shavers, dubbed “The Puncher of the Century,” had raw, God-given power, the kind of which only a few special fighters possess (Deontay Wilder is a good comparison to Shavers). Joshua, a big puncher himself, will never develop the ability to throw Shavers-like bombs, no matter what training he does. Still, it’s good that AJ is trying something new (or old) in training.
Going back to basics can prove beneficial to a fighter and Joshua does seem to have the hunger back ahead of his latest ring return.
Speaking of Shavers, it was on this day – March 23 – in 1979 when Earnie picked up perhaps his biggest ring victory. Facing former WBC heavyweight champ Ken Norton in Las Vegas, Shavers blasted Norton away inside one chilling round. This earned Shavers a crack at current WBC boss Larry Holmes. It was in the Holmes fight that Shavers scored one heck of a hefty, seemingly KO inducing knockdown, this with his vaunted right hand. Only Holmes’ astonishing recuperative powers saw to it that he got back up. Shavers scored no less than 70 knockouts during his pro career. Sadly, Earnie passed away last year, this at age 78. Clearly, though, Shavers is very much remembered, and he is still inspiring fighters.
Here, in a 2011 interview he was kind enough to grant me, Shavers spoke about his old-school training methods.
“My real advice to a fighter is this – chop wood, lift hay bales, go back to old-school, natural methods of training. My trainer, Archie Moore, he told me, before a fight, to go away and chop trees for two weeks. And I did it and it made all the difference in the world; it made all the difference to my life. I’d say doing things like that increases your punching power by at least 25 percent. Forget lifting weights, that just makes you muscle-bound and takes away your speed. Weights are no good for you, that’s what I say. Go back to nature when you train, that’s what I did.”
And it sure as heck worked, although Shavers, fighting in a truly golden era, was never able to win the big one and rule the world. But in knowing how to punch correctly, as in violently correctly, you could argue that no heavyweight did it with more frightening proficiency than the man Muhammad Ali playfully dubbed “The Acorn.”
Anthony Joshua is now heeding Shavers’ advice and good on him for doing so.