Fans have read by now how former heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua is set to work with accomplished trainer Robert Garcia for his upcoming rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. We all know Joshua has to get it right this time, because if he doesn’t his career at elite level will be on very shaky ground. What can Garcia add to Joshua’s game at this somewhat late stage in his career?
Joshua, 24-2(22) is now 32 years old and there are plenty of people who feel the two-time heavyweight champ has peaked; with writer Colin Hart going further than that, stating how he believes Joshua to be a “busted flush.” Can Garcia, who is known for teaching aggressive tactics along with working out a smart game plan, get the allegedly “gun shy” Joshua confident again? The Usyk return may come down to a mental battle more than anything as fas as AJ is concerned.
It’s been three years (tomorrow) since Joshua was blasted to shock stoppage defeat by big underdog Andy Ruiz, and though Joshua beat an out of shape Ruiz in the rematch, plenty of people feel Joshua has never quite been the same fighter since being stopped in New York. The loss to Usyk wasn’t as big a shock or upset, and we’ve all heard how Joshua’s blunder in tactical choice, of trying to outbox the smaller man instead of jumping right on him with his heavyweight strength and power, was the reason he lost last September. Maybe.
Or maybe Usyk, 19-0(13) is simply too good, and maybe Joshua is not that good. This is where Garcia can maybe come in and get the ship sailing again. Garcia has of course had some great nights with his fighters – such as Marcos Maidana, who upset Adrien Broner, and Abner Mares, and Brandon Rios and others. But how much time will Garcia have with Joshua before the Usyk rematch takes place? The sequel could come in August (Eddie Hearn has said the fight could be delayed a week or two, this from its July 23 date) and that’s not long at all.
Garcia will, according to reports, train Joshua in the UK and work may well have begun already. But how much can Garcia teach Joshua in a couple of months or so? Joshua may have to be a fast learner and maybe he can be. Usyk has had the awful Ukraine war occupying his mind and it’s entirely possible the reigning WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champ will not be 100 percent mentally focused on the fight when it goes down. Maybe this is the best chance Joshua will have of beating Usyk?
Can Garcia get Joshua back to being a confident, aggressive puncher who looks to destroy all in his path? If not, Usyk, if he’s on top form himself, will likely repeat his win of last year. The pressure really is on Joshua, and now it’s on Garcia too.