Anthony Joshua attempting to overcome ‘mental problem’ ahead of Oleksandr Usyk rematch

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Anthony Joshua’s new trainer Robert Garcia is helping AJ overcome what he perceives to be a ‘mental problem’ ahead of his Oleksandr Usyk rematch. After losing to the Ukrainian last September, Joshua recently announced that he would be replacing long-term trainer, Robert McCracken, for the second fight.

The two-time heavyweight champion enlisted the help of Garcia after touring US gyms in search of a new trainer – choosing the Boxing Writers’ Association 2012 trainer of the year over the likes of Virgil Hunter, Eddy Reynoso, and Ronnie Shields.

Garcia is expected to help the Brit adopt a more aggressive style when he faces Usyk again in a few months’ time but is also keen to work on his mental state.

Garcia explained on his YouTube show Robert Garcia Unfiltered: “A lot of fighters, they come off a loss – like probably after the Andy Ruiz Jr fight – they come off a loss thinking that was never gonna happen. 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.

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“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] 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. Somebody that’s with him, thinking positive with him. 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 continued: “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. 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 gonna be done, he just has to go out there and perform.”

Joshua-Usyk II is expected to take place in mid-August either on August 20 or August 13 according to AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn. A confirmed date is believed to be coming this week.

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