Anthony Joshua has opened up on his recent visits to boxing gyms in the United States, admitting he has been looking to get out of his “comfort zone” following his unanimous defeat by Oleksandr Usyk last month – though he is not looking to replace long-time coach Rob McCracken.
Joshua has since triggered his rematch clause as he aims to regain his world heavyweight titles against the undefeated Ukrainian, while he has spent time seeking out advice from several renowned trainers.
In the past month, the 32-year-old has worked with veteran trainer Ronnie Shields, who coached Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, Eddie Reynoso – the trainer of super middleweight star Canelo Alvarez – and Vergil Hunter and Robert Garcia.
After Joshua’s strategy and approach to his fight against Usyk came under scrutiny, there was speculation that he had split with McCracken, with whom he has trained for the entirety of his professional career.
But ‘AJ’ has revealed that his visits to gyms in the US have been arranged and approved by McCracken while the coach is away at the World Championships in his role as performance director for GB Boxing.
“With the new trainer situation, it is funny, because for 11 years I have been in Sheffield [with McCracken] from the age of 19 to 32,” Joshua told IFL TV.
“I just looked at myself and said I need to get out of this comfort zone, because I need a new coach to learn from as well. I will not be basing myself in the States, I am a UK resident so I am not going out to the States to find a new coach.
“Rob’s in [Belgrade] so I need to find a new coach for certain points as I train 10 or 11 months a year. So I need to step away and get some new teachings from trainers who have trained the likes of, like, 13 or 14 world champions.
“I don’t need anyone that is going to make me. I am a f*****g winner, but I need to get out and put myself back in the gym. In hindsight I wish I had done these things sooner, but now I can go out there and add things to my game.
“In 10 days I went to America and wanted to narrow down the people I want to learn from. He [McCracken] has to speak to the people I may wanna work with and see if he can work with them.”
Joshua, who is expected to face Usyk next spring, has vowed to take a more aggressive game plan into the rematch against Usyk.
After spending time with Shields, the veteran coach revealed that Joshua had asked him to turn him into a “dog” for the rematch.
Shields said: “That answered the question for me, because my thing to him was, ‘why did you box the whole time?’ and he said he thought he could out-box him, and that was the game plan.
“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.”