Anthony Joshua will be trained by Robert Garcia for his heavyweight title rematch with Oleksandr Usyk on July 23 in Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN.
Garcia, the boxing writers’ 2012 Trainer of the Year and a former 130-pound champion, coaches out of Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California, but will train Joshua in England, where the fighter is based, sources said.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) was soundly defeated by Usyk via unanimous decision in September and afterward went on a tour of U.S. gyms as he sought to find a trainer he meshed with. Among the trainers he visited: Virgil Hunter, Eddy Reynoso, Ronnie Shields and Garcia.
Robert McCracken, the only head trainer Joshua has had in the pros, is no longer part of his team, sources said. McCracken also led Joshua to a gold medal in 2012 as the head coach of the Great Britain Olympic boxing team.
Joshua, ESPN’s No. 4 heavyweight, will attempt to become a three-time champion when he meets Usyk in the rematch. The 32-year-old was upset by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 via seventh-round TKO, but rebounded to outpoint Ruiz six months later in Saudi Arabia to regain his three titles.
Garcia, 47, has guided 14 boxers to world titles. Among them: Marcos Maidana, Abner Mares, Jose Ramirez, Brandon Rios, Brian Viloria and his brother, Mikey, who captured belts in four divisions.
The Mexican American is well-regarded for his game plans and tactical adjustments. Garcia teaches a pressure style, and many of his fighters are well-versed with roughhouse tactics. Maidana, who was crude when he linked up with Garcia, upset Adrien Broner to win a welterweight title.
Joshua, who held significant strength, height, weight and reach advantages over Usyk, curiously sought to outbox him under the guidance of McCracken. The strategy didn’t work. Usyk, a fellow Olympic gold medalist, is a far superior boxer.
The 35-year-old Ukrainian is ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight and No. 6 pound-for-pound boxer. Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) was the undisputed cruiserweight champion before he moved up to heavyweight.
Those who favored Joshua believed he could use his superior size, strength and power to bully Usyk and either score a late stoppage or win via decision. Under Garcia, Joshua could attempt to apply nonstop pressure and lean on Usyk in the clinch.
The winner of the bout would emerge with three titles and could be lined up to face Tyson Fury for the undisputed heavyweight championship. After Fury defeated Dillian Whyte in April, he announced his retirement.