Anthony Joshua’s trainer Robert Garcia has admitted the former heavyweight champion has developed a “mental problem” after his two losses.
The American coach is the newest addition to Joshua’s corner team as he looks to overhaul his plans ahead of his summer rematch with Oleksandr Usyk for the unified belts. He has been drafted in to replace Rob McCracken, who had been with Joshua throughout his professional career, but came in for criticism over the Usyk loss.
And Garcia, who has trained 14 world champions but none at heavyweight, believes that Joshua has hit a mental block after first being stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr and then losing a lop-sided decision to the Ukrainian. The Brit managed to come back and defeat Ruiz in their rematch, but the bookies have him as an underdog to do it again.
“A lot of fighters, they come off a loss,” Garcia said on his podcast Robert Garcia Unfiltered. “Like probably after the Andy Ruiz Jr fight, they come off a loss thinking that was never gonna happen.
Anthony Joshua’s new coach is looking to fix a mental issue for the Brit ( Image: Action Images via Reuters)
“So it affected him, it affected him mentally. He probably thought, ‘Maybe that’s the end of my career, maybe that’s it,’ so he had a lot of things going on in his mind. I think that’s one of the most important things that affected Anthony and that’s what I’m here to change, me and Angel [Fernandez, his other coach] and other help that he’s got.
“He’s created a team of not only me and Angel teaming up, preparing the game plan and training him with the right strategy or the right sparring partners to go out and perform. He hired other people that are also very smart, not boxing trainers, just different people that could help with the way he’s thinking.”
Garcia believes that positive reinforcement will help Joshua to crack whatever mental blockages he has, after he looked unable to get out of his own head at times against Usyk the first time around. The pair are set to do battle in Saudi Arabia on August 20, which will be a good omen for the Brit who won his titles back in the same country against Ruiz.
“Somebody that’s with him, thinking positive with him,” Garcia said of what he feels Joshua needs. “Everybody around him is positive. Everybody around him is pushing him to his limits, to what he was doing before he lost his first fight.
“He needs to know and believe that he’s still as good, or he’s gonna be even better than he was before he became champion for the first time, when he went out there and was knocking everybody out.”
Garcia fears that Joshua may have become complacent after facing very little struggle throughout his career. After lacing up gloves relatively late as a youngster, he quickly won Olympic gold in 2012 and was into the pros, where he blasted out most of his opponents on his way to beating Wladimir Klitschko for the unified belts.
He was put down by Klitschko in that fight, but otherwise had faced minimal resistance before he took on Ruiz in New York during his American debut. “A lot of times when a fighter is so good, so accomplished with a gold medal, two-time heavyweight champion, sometimes then they might get a little too comfortable,” Garcia added.
“They might think, ‘I already lost a fight, so maybe I’m not as good?’ It gets to the head. It’s something that we have to change, because he already did it. He already won the gold medal against the best fighters in the world.
“And then as a pro he also did beat the best to become heavyweight champion of the world. We didn’t see that before he lost. After he lost is when we’ve seen that there’s more of a mental problem so we’re working on that.
“We have to push him in training, in sparring. The work is going to be done, he just has to go out there and perform.”