OLYMPIC heavyweight prospect Frazer Clarke has sprung to defence of trainer Rob McCracken following Anthony Joshua’s shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. on Saturday night.

McCracken, who combines being Joshua’s chief corner man with his role as performance director of Great Britain’s boxing squad, has been criticised by the likes of former champion Lennox Lewis in the wake of Joshua’s defeat.

It is the first time questions have been raised about McCracken, a former world title contender who has guided numerous British boxers to Olympic titles, including Joshua who won gold when still a relative novice at London 2012.

The 27-year-old Clarke, who won Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast last year is the latest super-heavyweight to emerge off the Great Britain production line, and he credits his increasing success to the influence of McCracken.

Clarke told Press Association Sport: “Anyone who wants to criticise Rob McCracken doesn’t know anything about boxing – for me he’s one of the most knowledgeable people in the sport.

“He’s done wonders for me on both a personal and professional level. He goes above and beyond for all of the lads and ladies on the squad and I have got nothing but respect for him.

Rob McCracken
Trainer Rob McCracken has come under fire following Anthony Joshua’s defeat (Nick Potts/PA)

“Rob is 100 per cent committed to Anthony. I heard someone saying he was speaking ‘basics’ in the corner. ‘Basics’ win fights – they got Joshua to be the Olympic and world champion.”

Clarke, a long-time friend of Joshua who sparred a number of rounds with him in the build-up to Saturday’s ill-fated contest, said he is convinced with the help of McCracken, the Londoner will bounce back stronger.

“I can understand people being shocked by the result but Anthony is the type of character who will come back better than ever,” added Clarke.

Frazer Clarke
Frazer Clarke won Commonwealth Games gold in 2018 (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We did a little bit of sparring and he looked as good as ever, but you have got to get it right on the day. But he’s been defeated before and he’s always come back and avenged it, and I’ve got no doubts he will do the same again.”

Clarke is one of a 12-strong Great Britain boxing squad heading to Minsk later this month for the second European Games, which also doubles as the sport’s European Championships.

And he views the tournament as a significant staging-post in his quest to extend the list of successful British heavyweights ranging from Audley Harrison through to Joe Joyce and Joshua.

“I’m going out there to make a statement,” added Clarke. “I feel like I’m well known on the international stage but now I want the major medals – the ones that at the end of your career everyone looks back upon and recognises.”