By: Sean Crose
ESPN is reporting that former IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua is now going to team up with noted trainer Robert Garcia in the leadup to his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. It was the Ukraine’s Usyk who outboxed the popular Englishman Joshua last year, thus having Joshua from removed his titles for the second time. Joshua was an undefeated titlist when he was stopped in stunning fashion by Andy Ruiz in 2019. Joshua came back and beat Ruiz handily six months later and managed to hold on to his regained title belts until meeting former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk last fall.
The truth is that Usyk appeared to be far more skilled than Joshua when the two squared off. Ruiz stopped Joshua, true, but a change in strategy – and arguably Ruiz’ own laziness in camp – led Joshua to a one sided win in the rematch. Things might not be quite as simple with Usyk. All it took to avenge the loss to Ruiz was for Joshua to essentially switch from a puncher to a boxer. Usyk is a more nuanced fighter than that. No no matter how he fares against him in the all but guaranteed rematch, Joshua will not have an easy time of it with Usyk.
Hence the reported call to Robert Garcia, a former titlist himself who owns and operates one of the most esteemed gyms in the country. Not only has Garcia trained his younger brother, Mikey, he was the man who trained Marcos Maidana to push the great Floyd Mayweather to his limits. And those are simply a few of Garcia’s accomplishments. It will be interesting to see how Garcia guides Joshua to tweak his game should the ESPN report prove to be true. Joshua’s longtime trainer Robert McCracken is – according to ESPN at least – no longer with Joshua’s team.
One thing is certain – Joshua must up his game. He can’t bully the smaller Usyk, nor can Joshua use his height to his advantage, at least not the way he tried to in the first fight. Usyk is a specialist and it will take a special game plan for Joshua to beat him. Joshua, however, knows what it means to be in this position. He’s been here before and has emerged victorious. Whether or not he’ll be able to balance out his loss to Usyk with a win in the rematch is up to him…and, of course, Usyk.
And perhaps Robert Garcia.
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