Last Updated on 15 Nov 2021 12:46 am (UK Time)
Anthony Joshua visited a number of trainers in America after losing his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles in a unanimous decision defeat to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk last month. Is it time for him to find a new head trainer or should he stick to the current coach, we analyse the options.
In a recent interview with popular boxing YouTube channel, IFL TV Joshua said he is open to expanding his coaching team but has not parted company with McCracken who guided him to two world title triumphs and an Olympic gold medal. Questioned on whether McCraken would remain as his coach, Joshua told IFL TV “Yeah, and he has to speak to the people I may want to work with and see if he can work with them”.
“I had the same conversation with Rob, ‘I want to work with you, but I also want to work with this guy for six months.
“Rob might tell me, ‘You know what champ, this ain’t working for me. For the next six months, you do your thing and come and see me after.’
Questions came after many boxing experts heavily criticised Joshua’s team tactics against Usyk. There have also been suggestions that Joshua wasn’t confident of the tactics ahead of the fight following footage of him asking advice from the head of security and former heavyweight Clifton Mitchel as he entered the ring on the night.
Joshua has faced adversity before and will have confidence in his ability to get the win in the immediate rematch. Now he faces an immediate quest for redemption in a similar vein to his overturned defeat to Andy Ruiz. He has suggested a change of approach with the tactics too, looking for a more aggressive approach.
So what options does Joshua have in terms of coaches? Many will be jumping at the chance to work with a talented athlete as well as the payday and exposure it would give their profile should he win the rematch. He visited a number of American coaches following the defeat to Usyk.
Seen as the UK’s best young boxing trainer, McGuigan could be an interesting option should Joshua decide to look at UK-based trainers. Having worked with world champions in George Groves, Carl Frampton and Josh Taylor, McGuigan’s current stable includes another heavyweight in Daniel Dubois and cruiserweight king Lawrence Okolie.
Mcguigan heavily criticised McCraken and his team following the defeat suggesting Joshua’s team failed to respond to what was an alarming performance while there was still time to turn things around. There had been rumours of Joshua’s team sounding out Mcguigan but it remains to be seen how concrete the interest is from both camps.
Shields formerly trained former heavyweight Mike Tyson but only for his last fight against Lennox Lewis in 2002 which ended in defeat. However, he’s trained former greats such as Evander Holyfield and David Tua, as well as the legendary duo Pernell Whitaker and Arturo Gatti.
He is currently working with Two-weight world champion, and reigning WBC middleweight titleholder, Jermall Charlo, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Erislandy Lara, both two-weight world champions from Cuba.
Shields told The Boxing Voice: “The first thing he told me when he came here, he told me, ‘Listen, I know people don’t think that I’m a dog, I’m just a pure boxer, look, I’m gonna be a dog in this next fight’. And that’s his words.
“To me, that was the wrong fight, now he knows that was the wrong fight. To teach a man to be a dog he has to have the dog instincts in him already.
Hunter is one of the most respected and admired trainers in the game with tons of experience. He trained Andre Ward for his entire career. He also worked with British welterweight Amir Khan and significantly improved under his leadership following early defeats at the start of his career.
There are already links with Joshua as he currently works with Joshua 258 management protégé Joshua Buasti who I’m sure would have given Joshua feedback over Hunter’s training methods.
One of Tyson Fury’s coaches and Dazn boxing pundit Andy Lee also suggested for Joshua to consider Booth as a potential new coach.
Lee told IFL TV “And if Anthony Joshua rates me and wants to listen to anything then I think the best coach out there for Anthony Joshua is Adam Booth. For me, Adam Booth is the best trainer in the country.
“Nobody has an understanding of the game like Adam Booth. Nobody knows what it takes to improve a fighter like Adam Booth”. “But I think it would come with a few conditions, like when it is time for the training the only person who walks through that gym door is Anthony Joshua”.
Lee suggests there may be too many people in Joshua’s corner who have input during fights as seen at the last fight. However, in a recent interview with IFL TV Booth refused to comment on the speculation surrounding Joshua.
Lee was credited for teaming Tyson Fury with Sugar Hill who has actually changed Fury’s style to be a more front-foot offensive fighter therefore his suggestions should be taken seriously.
Garcia is one of the most respected trainers in America who too was a former fighter himself. A champion at super featherweight during his professional career before turning his hand into coaching. Asked on Joshua, Garcia gave his thoughts.
“Wherever he’s at, he’s the star. He needs to be in a place where he’s a nobody where he’s not going to be special where he’s going to get his a** kicked if he doesn’t do right,” said Robert Garcia to ESNEWS about his thoughts on Anthony Joshua.
He’s been babied throughout his whole career, and he’s the boss.”.
Trainer Jamie Moore has said Joshua should stay with Rob as he knows his fighter inside out. Moore told IFL TV ‘’ as a fighter, you have to make these decisions, sometimes they’re not nice. If he feels like he needs a change for his career, then he needs a change’’.
However, others have suggested that Joshua may need a new voice in his corner from ESPN boxing analyst Sergio Mora just as Tyson Fury did, and he’s seen a significant impact on his career.
“I know you were loath to change a trainer, but this is now Anthony Joshua’s second loss in his last four fights. Is it time to make a change with Rob McCracken?
“This is what happens when a champion gets beat up, clipped, and embarrassed. He loses that hunger; he loses that willingness to lay it all on the line.
You saw that in Anthony Joshua’s eyes,” said Sergio Mora in analysing what went wrong for AJ against Usyk.
“You know how adamant I am about changing trainers, especially at the top level when you’ve garnered and gathered so much success with one and one voice, and you went all the way to the top to the amateurs to the pros.
Joshua has plenty of world-class trainers willing to be part of his team however this will be a very big decision for him to make. The rematch with Usyk is set to be in March 2021 as per reports this time will be critical for him to start getting used to a new setup with the most likely destination for the training camp being America. There have been suggestions that with whatever outcome he ideally wants McCracken to be part of the team.