Robert Garcia, the new head trainer for Anthony Joshua, says the British star was mentally defeated by the tenth round of last Saturday’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.
Usyk outboxed Joshua over twelve rounds to capture the WBO, IBF, IBO, WBA heavyweight titles last September in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The rematch had a similar outcome, with Usyk retaining the belts with his will and superior boxing skills.
During the second contest, Joshua had a big moment in the ninth round, when he seemed to hurt Usyk to the body and began to let his hands go as the Ukrainian boxer was looking to weather the storm.
Just when it seemed like Joshua was going to take over the fight, Usyk came out firing in the tenth round – with a complete domination of the British boxer for the entire three minutes.
Usyk would continue his dominant moment in the eleventh and twelfth.
“Joshua was mentally defeated since round ten or eleven,” García told Izquierdazo. “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.”
Garcia felt the ninth round was their big moment, where Joshua had a good chance to end the fight.
However, Usyk upped his game and took over the remaining three rounds of the contest to close the fight in style.
“The fight was going well for us, but the tenth round changed everything”, García said. “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”.
“During that ninth round, me and the guys in the corner were telling ourselves that we had the fight. But nothing is secured until the final bell. Usyk came back stronger in the tenth round, and that changed the fight. 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 (Ukrainians). 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.
“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.”