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Robert Garcia is the Wild Card in the Usyk-Joshua Rematch

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  • Robert Garcia is the Wild Card in the Usyk-Joshua Rematch

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    By Arne K. Lang

    Anthony Joshua was assailed for fighting a stupid fight after losing his alphabet trove of heavyweight titles to Oleksandr Usyk in September of last year. Joshua himself came to share this opinion and responded by cutting ties with trainer Rob McCracken who had guided him to an Olympic gold medal and was the chief voice in his corner for his last nine pro fights.

    Joshua’s search for a replacement took him to the United States where he had conversations with Ronnie Shields, Virgil Hunter, Eddy Reynoso and Robert Garcia. He chose Garcia.

    Garcia, 47, learned the ABCs of boxing at the knee of his father Eduardo Garcia, a Mexican immigrant agricultural worker who taught boxing in the evenings at a boys’ club in the LA county community of Oxnard and would eventually open his own gym. Eduardo taught him well. Robert won the IBF world super featherweight title and made two successful defenses before leaving the sport with a 34-3 record.

    In retirement, Robert Garcia worked alongside his father training boxers. Their prize pupil was Robert’s younger brother Mikey Garcia who won titles in four weight classes. During his prime fighting years, said the noted boxing authority Frank Lotierzo, Mikey was the most fundamentally sound fighter in the sport.

    Robert Garcia has trained or co-trained 17 fighters who went on to win world titles. The most recent is precocious 22-year-old WBC super flyweight champion Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez who is such a smooth operator that he has already drawn comparisons to Vasyl Lomachenko.

    Garcia was yet a curious choice. He has worked primarily with Mexican and Mexican-American boxers and has never coached a title-holder in a weight class higher than middleweight. Moreover, Anthony Joshua doesn’t need someone to teach him to be more of a textbook fighter. He needs someone to teach him to be a bully.

    Since his first fight with Andy Ruiz, said Barry McGuigan in London’s Daily Mirror, “{Joshua} has tried to become something that he is not, a technical, thinking fighter. This was the root of his problems against Usyk.” He was the bigger specimen and theoretically could have roughed up Usyk and worn him down, but he failed to use his size to his advantage.

    “It sounds crazy,” Joshua was quoted as saying in a story in the Daily Mail, “but I’m not going to lie: My objective was never to hurt him, to land damaging punches; my aim was to go the full 12 rounds and prove I could box as well as he does, to land scoring punches.”

    Looking at the tape of that fight, Robert Garcia noted that AJ merely smiled each time that Usyk nailed him with a hard punch in the final round. Garcia doesn’t want to see any more smiling from Joshua. He wants his charge to get mad and show it.

    Can Anthony Joshua change his mentality and get meaner? If so, will it make any difference against a fighter as fundamentally sound as Oleksandr Usyk? We will find out on Saturday when AJ and Usyk renew acquaintances in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The fight will be live-streamed in the United States on DAZN. It’s a mid-afternoon show for those residing in the Pacific Time Zone with the preliminaries expected to start about noon and the first bell for the main event slated to go at approximately 2:45 (5:45 pm ET).

  • #2
    I think I will watch this fight......the one concern I have is that everyone has Usyk winning this fight and I can understand why that is but it is a heavywght fight and even the best get knocked around and out from time to time. Maybe the rolls will be reversed and Usyk will decide to be a puncher and a bully and we get two guys knocking each other around the ring and using their skill sets only to attack and retreat when hurt, that would be nice......
    One factor not talked about much is where Usyk has been living talking Ukrain ......I would take that to mean he would have developed skills you can not,lean in the ring but will give you something extra that you can not plan or defend against in the ring meaning heart and determination. Or it could turn out to be a distraction in the ring for all kinds of reasons...but I do not want to over think this fight I thought it was going to be PPV so did not even think about it or the undercard but now OK I am all in on the hype, the meaning, the well you know the FIGHT