In what some might say is a conversation better suited to the privacy of the gym, Robert Garcia has questioned his fighter’s mentality.
Speaking to Mexican boxing news outlet Izquierdazo, Anthony Joshua’s new trainer began by saying he was as aware as the rest of us that he was witnessing something special from the Ukrainian champion in round 10.
“Joshua was mentally defeated since round ten or eleven. Round ten was a big one for Usyk. That changed the whole fight, and mentally we were defeated. At that point, we were relying on a good shot or something like that, because Anthony is a hard puncher, and one shot can change a fight. That is what we were hoping for, one shot, because he [AJ] was dominated at that point of the fight.”
“The fight was going well for us, but the tenth round changed everything. The last three rounds of the fight were the ones that changed the fight. In the ninth round we were close to winning, perhaps even by knockout. Through round nine, we were winning the fight on the judges scorecards, but it was decided in the last rounds. Usyk is a great fighter, with a tremendous heart, who knows how to finish strong, like champions do.”
Garcia, who has trained multiple world champions, went on to say that he wasn’t sure if it was physical or mental fatigue for AJ that helped Usyk dominate the championship rounds.
“I have even thought in these last few days that it was Anthony Joshua who mentally defeated himself. In the ninth, Joshua threw a lot of punches, and almost put Usyk out. Maybe, he emptied out [in trying to finish Usyk off], but maybe it was just that Usyk came stronger and more motivated to the tenth round, we don’t know.”
“In this fight, I think that Usyk was mentally stronger. I think he was stronger, to the point that after being close to a knockout, instead of giving up, he came back stronger. His will and his desire to demonstrate to his country that he couldn’t let himself lose the fight, made him come back. He wanted to give a message to his country, for everything that is happening there. He is a big inspiration for them. His mind was what made him turn the tide in the fight and get him to victory. And I think that Anthony’s mind is a bit weaker than Usyk’s, because instead of going out stronger, his mind and exhaustion play games with him.”
The Mexican trainer then shared the corner strategy he employs when a fighter’s mentality is shot. Ultimately, as boxing fans worldwide know, it didn’t work.
“Because of my own experience, I can notice when a fighter is mentally defeated. In such a situation, instructions don’t work, because the fighter is not listening anymore, his mind collapses. What we did with Anthony was trying to motivate him, and not giving instructions on how to win the fight. You have to instill images, like his family, to switch him on, but that didn’t work either.”
It’s not known for sure, but probably safe to assume, that Garcia has communicated all of this to AJ himself. He was brought in specifically for this fight, with Joshua touring America to scout coaches before making that decision. Eddie Hearn, the Brit’s promoter, has revealed that he wants a packed fight calendar for the fighter. It will be interesting to see who is in his corner when the first one comes.