THE topic of trainers has been a prominent one this week, more specifically, which ones are best for certain fighters, and when is the right time to seek new mentorship. Anthony Joshua prompted these conversations when he was spotted in various different gyms in America, apparently scouting out potential new trainers after his loss to Usyk last month. Footage of ‘AJ’ in Eddy Reynoso’s gym and also Ronnie Shields’ emerged on social media, while it was reported he also visited Virgil Hunter and Robert Garcia. Shields subsequently spoke to ThaBoxingVoice about Joshua’s visit, and insisted the Brit confirmed to him that he is definitely looking for a new trainer.
He said: “[Joshua] told me, ‘Listen, I know people don’t think I’m a dog. I’m gonna be a dog in this next fight.’ And that’s his words. He told me, ‘I just need you to show me how to be the best dog you can teach me to be.’”
Shields also claimed Joshua told him that Angel Fernandez is the only trainer that would remain from his current team, suggesting he intends to fully part ways with Rob McCracken, who is still his head trainer as things stand.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, spoke to IFL about the issue, saying: “He went to see a number of gyms, fighters and trainers. He hasn’t split from Rob McCracken, hasn’t decided he’s going to join another trainer – he’s just trying to learn. There’s absolutely no definitive mindset or answer.”
Joshua’s movements grabbed the attention of the boxing world and speculation has been rife as to what his decision will be. What does seem clear is that he is taking his time before making the final call, which is in-character for Joshua and is the right approach.
This all also highlights the almost unprecedented levels of attention (some would say pressure) Joshua remains under given his standing in the sport and wider culture outside of it. Aside from the reporting of Joshua’s American tour, there’s been analysis and deep-dives into his options and what this means for his career, across YouTube, websites and podcasts alike.
It also speaks to the privileged position Joshua has worked hard to reach; he has the reputation and resources necessary to seek out pretty much any trainer in the world and uproot his camp to wherever they are.
There aren’t many fighters who would be able to do the same, and Joshua is well within his rights to explore new options if he wants a different approach. And that is the key word – different, not necessarily better.
McCracken is one of the best trainers in the world, he’s proven that, and if Joshua does decide to move to someone new, that shouldn’t automatically reflect poorly on McCracken. As Joshua himself apparently said, he wants to bring out the “dog” in him and if he needs a new trainer for that, then so be it.
The role of a trainer isn’t confined to the gym, and we saw the importance of this during a press conference to announce the rematch between British light-heavyweights Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde.
The pair’s trainers – Pat Barrett and Tunde Ajayi – traded barbs during the press conference, with Barrett promising to “punch [Tunde’s] f***ing head in” and Ajayi declaring, “go back to the road.”
While neither showered themselves in glory, it was Tunde who repeatedly made comments and spoke over others, ultimately drawing attention away from his fighter. Even Yarde himself had to tell him to stop.
The response online to Tunde’s antics was overwhelmingly negative, with some imploring Yarde to find a new trainer. Some of the disdain is even being directed at Yarde, who was respectful throughout the press conference.
Tunde’s behaviour has the unfortunate effect of turning people off his charge, with some commenting that they’d like to see him lose just because of their dislike for Ajayi. That is not ideal. What makes it all the more frustrating is that Arthur-Yarde is a great fight and has enough intrigue after their first encounter – it certainly doesn’t need needle between the trainers to sell it.
With a handful of exciting young talents, the lightweight division has been flirting with the idea of becoming one of the most entertaining in the sport, but it still isn’t following through. Teófimo López’ fight with George Kambosos Jnr, as expected, has been picked up by DAZN and will now take place on November 27.
That means López will have been out of the ring more than a year since his star-making victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020. The Kambosos fight is fine, if a little underwhelming, but it’s shocking how much time the negotiations have taken out of López’ schedule.
It was also reported by ESPN that Devin Haney will now fight Joseph Diaz in December after Ryan García, who was originally booked against Diaz, withdrew due to a hand injury. Haney-Diaz is an interesting matchup but Diaz is still unproven at 135lbs.
Gervonta Davis’ team have explicitly stated that they won’t be matching him with anyone outside of their business circle, and the likes of López, García and Haney still do not seem any closer to fighting one another. It will be a travesty – but not a very surprising one – if these fights never happen.
Fair play to Chris Eubank Jnr. When up in Newcastle for his most recent fight, he was asked by a group of fans for autographs and pictures. One of them presented him with a microwave and asked him to sign it, which he did.
It turns out that fan decided to flog the signed appliance on eBay, and once Eubank found it he promised to match the winning bid and send the money to charity. The microwave ended up going for over £66,000. It’s just one of those nice, bonkers stories that boxing sometimes throws up.