A lot has been made about Anthony Joshua having a new trainer going into his must-win return fight with Oleksandr Usyk. For some months, secretly at first, Joshua has been working with Robert Garcia. Garcia is seen by plenty of fans as well as experts as a major factor in Joshua’s chances of avenging his loss to Usyk and regaining the three heavyweight belts he lost almost a full year ago.
But Joshua himself, in giving a short but candid interview with BBC Sport, said that, though he will of course be listening to his corner on the night, the sport of boxing is all about instinct and that it will be down to himself and himself alone to get this win – to go out there and do what needs to be done to ensure victory.
Joshua spoke about the wholly unexpected manner, in fact the wholly shocking manner, in which his hero, Muhammad Ali, used his own instincts to reclaim the heavyweight crown by adopting the legendary ‘Rope-a-Dope’ tactics. The Greatest came up with these truly amazing tactics on the spur of the moment – on instinct – all those years ago in the heart of Africa. Joshua says boxers are “instinctive creatures,” and that if the tactics he is being given in the corner on Saturday night are not working, he has to be “instinctively smart enough to come up with my own situation.”
“Let me be real – in the corner, you hardly remember anything (laughs),” Joshua said. “Let’s be real, it’s high pressure. You can take a piece of information, but boxing is about instinct and when we get in the ring it’s all about instinct. I’m gonna listen to my corner, but if that thing ain’t happening I’ve got to be instinctively smart enough to then come up with my own situation, and that’s how you win a fight. Look at the ‘Rope-a-Dope,’ – no-one would have said, ‘Ali, I want you to sit on the ropes for the next 8 rounds and take as much punishment as you can and let him tire.’ But he figured that instinctively and that’s what makes a champion. I am gonna listen to my corner; I’ve listened to them for the last eight months of training – now it’s about instinct and I’ve got to go in there and want it myself. Garcia, Angel, McCracken, my mum, my father, they can’t win this for me, just me.”
Interesting stuff from Joshua. Might we see AJ prove his own greatness by adopting tactics NOBODY saw coming, and might Joshua shock the world in doing so? Usyk as we know has a master boxing brain, but could it be that Joshua has something in mind that he plans to use in an effort at confusing his rival? It’s interesting that Joshua brings up the ‘Rope-a-Dope,’ but surely AJ will not attempt anything on those lines?
Can Joshua do anything that will surprise and unsettle Usyk? Can Joshua get in there and be relaxed enough to fight on pure instinct? Has Joshua got greatness in him?
Plenty has been written about Saturday’s fight but the talking is now almost at an end. Does the smarter boxer win this one, or will it come down to power and physical strength?