Rematch Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk: Why AJ’s new coach Robert Garcia makes ‘perfect sense’

Rematch Anthony Joshua vs.  Oleksandr Usyk: Why AJ's new coach Robert Garcia makes 'perfect sense'

Anthony Joshua has hired a new trainer, American Robert Garcia, to help him prepare for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua pushed for the rematch, which will take place on August 20 in Saudi Arabia, but his team has changed. He has parted ways with long-time coach Robert McCracken, and Robert Garcia has joined his training staff.

Usyk defeated Joshua in a gruelling 12-round fight last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to earn the WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight crowns.

Chris Algeri has trained with Garcia himself and understands the logic of the decision. “Pedigree for one. One thing about Robert, he’s a consummate professional. He gives his guys so much of himself. A trainer, a former fighter and former world champion as well, he understands what a fighter needs,” Algieri told.

“He’s one of those guys, he understands the fight game. He has an eye that’s very special, that he can see things in the ring, that he can see talent in certain fighters. He’s the kind of guy personality-wise when you speak to him it’s: I trust this man, he’s going to look out for me, he’s going to do what needs to be done. So it makes sense from that point of view. Maybe not so much on paper but in terms of personality it does.”

“I initially was surprised that was happening, that Robert was going to train AJ. Because Robert is not known for training heavyweights. He doesn’t have a lot of heavyweights in his gym. But as I thought more about it, in terms of my personal relationship and also my professional relationship with Robert, it makes sense.

Garcia can have an impact on Joshua, although their new partnership only has limited time to gel.

“To get real change in a fighter in one fight, in one camp is truly, truly difficult, especially someone at the level of AJ,” Algieri explained.

“But again speaking to the athleticism of AJ and the personality of Robert Garcia, if they are connected, bonded up here [mentally], in terms of their abilities to communicate. Listen, boxing a lot of time a lot of it is simple. It’s fundamentals. “But semantics matters, if AJ understands what Robert’s saying whole-heartedly and believes in him, that he’s giving him the right instruction, he can make a difference. If there is any kind of communication issue, [there’s] not enough time.”

Joshua’s style of fighting and how he might change his approach for the Usyk rematch has come under intense scrutiny. Garcia, Algieri believes, might confound expectations. He doesn’t have to train Joshua to fight the same way as, say Brandon Rios, one of Garcia’s former charges. “People on the outside are saying, ‘He’s got that Brandon Rios style, [so Joshua] is going to come forward, he can use his physicality, he’s the bigger man.’ Rios at 135lbs was a monster. He was just running through guys and beating them up. So a lot of people could think that that would be the way that an AJ would beat Usyk. But I don’t necessarily agree,” Algieri said.

“I don’t think AJ is that type of fighter. I don’t think he’s that durable, punching tank-like guy who’s going to come forward and give as good as he gets. I still believe that he is a great athlete and boxer, so he can go out there and be a boxer-puncher, a true boxer-puncher. “If he just tries to box Usyk he’s going to lose, he’s going to get outboxed. But if he’s a boxer-puncher, which he actually naturally is, I think he stands a good chance.

“The good thing there is that Robert Garcia was a boxer-puncher when he fought. Even though he trained Brandon Rios the way he did that wasn’t the way Robert fought. Robert was very, very smart, he had power and boxed his way to knockouts. Very similar to how his brother Mikey boxed. So utilising that ability and game plan I think makes perfect sense for AJ in his rematch with Usyk.”

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