Veteran trainer Robert Garcia, who worked the corner of Anthony Joshua for his recent rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, believes the British star could have closed the show had he applied a lot of pressure two or three rounds before the big ninth.
Last weekend, Usyk retained the WBO, IBF, IBO, WBA heavyweight titles when he outboxed Joshua over twelve rounds in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
During the ninth round, Joshua began firing with both hands and rocked Usyk to the body. He had the unified champion on the run.
However, Usyk came out like whirlwind in the tenth, as he battered Joshua around the ring from bell to bell. Usyk continued to dominate the action in the final two rounds to clinch the fight.
“Joshua should have started his pressure earlier,” Garcia told Izquierdazo. “In round nine we put pressure on Usyk, and almost closed the fight when he started to punch Usyk’s body more emphatically and began to press him more. If he had done that two or three rounds before, maybe the result would be different.”
AJ was executing the game plan that they trained for in the gym, but Garcia believes what he lacked was intensity.
“About the work that we did in the gym, and how the fight was going [until round nine], I think Joshua was doing what we planned,” Garcia explained.
“He was using his punches to keep Usyk at distance, his jab, his reach. But I would have liked him to throw his jab with more power. Sometimes he was just using his jab to keep Usyk at distance. But there were many opportunities where the jab could have been more solid, but it wasn’t that way.
“The last three rounds changed the fight’s outcome. I think we were doing well, until round ten, when everything changed in the fight. The last three rounds defined the fight, but in round nine, we were close to winning by knockout.”
Garcia is convinced that Joshua needed more intensity. And as his trainer, he takes responsibility for that.
“I was training him,” Garcia admitted. “I have to see what I missed [in our training camp]. I am a trainer, and a person who doesn’t like to lose. I keep working. On Monday I arrived at my gym to start work in other fights that I have. I keep myself busy. But I think about that fight and really believe we were doing well until the tenth round. We were winning on the judges’ scorecards. But we could have done more, throw the jab with more power. Throw his straight right hand more solid, throw his 1-2 combo more frequently.”