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‘AJ needs to have a look at his team’ – Shane McGuigan says Anthony Joshua’s corner lacked authority in defeat to Oleksandr Usyk


Rob McCracken has been Joshua’s coach for his entire professional career (Picture: Getty)

Trainer Shane McGuigan believes Anthony Joshua needs to have a ‘long look’ at his corner team in the wake of Saturday’s world title defeat to Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua was outclassed by the undefeated Ukrainian who sealed a unanimous points win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to win the WBO, IBF and WBA (Super) heavyweight titles.

Usyk made a mockery of predictions that Joshua’s size and power advantage would steer him towards victory with promoter Eddie Hearn admitting the Briton would have to make ‘fundamental changes’ to avoid a career-threatening defeat in a rematch that is likely to take place next year.

Long-time rival Dillian Whyte and former champion David Haye were among those to suggest a cautious approach cost Joshua the fight.

And McGuigan, who trains Joshua’s protégé and WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie along with fellow heavyweight Daniel Dubois, suggests Joshua’s team failed to respond to what was an alarming performance while there still time to turn things around.

Usyk outclassed Joshua on Saturday (Picture: Getty)

‘There was no urgency from the corner,’ McGuigan told Metro.co.uk.

‘It was like,’ don’t panic’. Well, you should be panicking. You’re about to lose your three belts in the heavyweight division and that is what boxing is all about, who holds those belts.

‘As soon as someone holds the belts they have got the power. AJ has got the immediate rematch clause that I believe he should exercise but he really needs to go have a look at his team because they are the people who should have clamped down on him after six rounds and told him to change the fight around.

McGuigan trains Joshua’s friend Lawrence Okolie among others (Picture: Getty)

‘You have to go and push the fight. If you stand off, you’re going to lose on points. And there was no urgency there. I think whether it was a tactical game plan thing or not, he needs to really have a long look at what went wrong there because there was a lot.’

Following the defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in the summer of 2019, Joshua’s head coach Rob McCracken added Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton to the team. The new formula was a success, with the 2012 Olympian turning in a superb performance to reclaim his belts in Saudi Arabia later that year.

During Saturday’s fight, Joshua’s corner could be heard praising their fighter’s work with coach Clayton shouting ‘brilliant AJ’ during rounds where Usyk appeared to be gaining the upper hand.

Joshua and his team could not find a response to Usyk (Picture: Getty)

McGuigan suggested that some fighters need positive reinforcement during losing rounds to steer them back in the right direction. But with three coaches in the corner, he questions where the voice of authority comes from, suggesting Fernandez and Clayton should ‘know their place’.

‘You’ve got to learn to know your fighter,’ McGuigan explained. ‘I’ve had fighters in the past who you can’t be too negative with or they just go into themselves.

‘So it can be about bluffing it with them. ‘Oh you did great in that round’, even though they lose it. Even if they only did two or three things right, you’d say you’re nearly getting to them. Keep doing it again and suddenly they catch up.

‘I don’t know AJ, I’ve never worked with him so I don’t know what their ethos was but at some stage you have to hold authority.

Joshua will have the chance to reclaim his belts next year (Picture: Getty)

‘I know he pays them, but the paydays will run dry if you’re not winning. There needs to be a level of respect, someone has to be accountable for it in the corner because you have three coaches, you’ve got Angel Fernandez, you’ve got Joby Cayton, you’ve got Rob McCracken. Who is the voice there? You need one voice. They can be assistants but that is very much what they do, you’re an assistant, don’t talk. Don’t give advice. Know your place.

‘It is a hierarchy thing. Rob McCracken is a seasoned operator; he knows his boxing. He needs to hold authority within the corner and it didn’t seem that way on Saturday.’

McGuigan now believes Joshua faces some very difficult decisions over his team but whatever his next move is, he believes a drastic rethink is needed to deliver a victory in the rematch.

‘Whatever his decision is, whether it’s binning people off, or rebuilding, he has to give that person, whether it is Rob or not, full confidence. He can’t doubt him and bring other people in. He has brought people in who have no real place. And that undermines Rob.

‘He has to go back and say: ‘I need one voice, one person and I’m not going to doubt anything that person says.’

‘If that’s the case, he’ll be successful and I believe he can win the rematch. He hardly landed a glove on Usyk and look at the state of his [Usyk’s] face. He hurt him a few times but he just didn’t land enough and didn’t believe in himself. Let’s see him regroup and rebuild, whether it is with the same team or new team. But go back to the drawing board.’


MORE : Tyson Fury sends message to Anthony Joshua after title defeat and passes on advice over Oleksandr Usyk rematch


MORE : Bob Arum offers plan for Anthony Joshua to fight the winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson Fury

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