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Lennox Lewis says Anthony Joshua needs new trainer

Anthony Joshua Lennox Lewis

By Charles Brun: Lennox Lewis strongly believes that Anthony Joshua needs to make an upgrade by switching out his long-time trainer Rob McCracken in favor of a new coach to help him keep improving. Lewis points out that other heavyweights have figured out his fighting style, and know how to beat him. Andy Ruiz Jr. destroyed Joshua last weekend in stopping him in seven rounds. Just like in any sport, once other athletes know how to neutralize their competitors, it’s game over. That happens in football, basketball, and tennis.

Ruiz revealed after the fight that he’d seen the flaws in Joshua’s game, and that’s why he wanted to fight him more than WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Ruiz spotted something in Joshua’s game, and he took full advantage of it.

Joshua is resistant to dumping McCracken

AJ intends on staying loyal to McCracken despite his loss to Ruiz. Apparently, Joshua is going to stick it out with McCracken until the bitter end. Joshua is blaming himself for the defeat instead of spreading the blame to his trainer McCracken, who arguably should have taught him to use his jab, move, and fight on the outside by this point in his career. McCracken should have gotten Joshua to stay away from the weight room, so that he wouldn’t be walking around and looking like he’s about to enter a bodybuilding contest.

What’s become obvious is Joshua’ stamina is inadequate for him to compete in fast paced fights, as we saw in his match against Ruiz. You would think that McCracken had to have spotted that flaw in Joshua during his sparring sessions, and he should have had him drop 20 to 30 pounds of useless muscle weight. Working on Joshua’s cardio should have been the first priority. A good trainer would have made that move.

“I was in disbelief,” said Lewis to PBC on Fox in talking about Joshua’s loss to Ruiz Jr. “Joshua went into the fight wrong. He didn’t really look prepared, and that was the most of it. He wasn’t prepared for what Ruiz had to offer, and that’s really doing your homework on the guy. He’s [Ruiz] a banger, and he’s got fast hands, and fast feet. There’s a certain way that you prepare for those guys,” said Lewis.

Lewis nails it on the head in talking about Joshua not being prepared. Joshua looked bigger for this fight in terms of his muscles than in his previous contest against Alexander Povetkin last September, and that suggests that he’s been working on his muscles rather than focusing on functional training that would actually help him in the fight. It’s fine for fighters to have a hobby, but when that hobby starts to negatively impact their game, then it’s time to rid themselves of it.

A good trainer would have put on a lock on the weight room to keep Joshua out of there. If Joshua was a fat fighter, then having someone tail him to keep him from raiding the fast food joints would be in order. Joshua is clearly his own worst enemy at this point with his weight lifting, and his resistance to getting a new trainer.

Lewis: Joshua needs to upgrade his coach

“What I say is you can’t go to a university with your 3rd grade teacher,” said Lewis about Joshua needing to upgrade his long-time trainer McCracken to a different coach. “I started out with a trainer, and he taught me the basics. He didn’t really have anything else to teach me. He brought me to another trainer in Toronto. I then graduated with three other coaches as a professional, and each one of them taught me something. I put them all together, which made me,” said Lewis.

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Lewis was a far better fighter at the end of his career than he was at the start, and the reason for that was he kept getting new trainers. You can’t say that with Joshua. If anything, Joshua has gotten worse since he turned pro. He used to be able to throw a flurry without gassing. Not anymore. When Joshua throws a handful of shots, he’s in need of a rest for three or four rounds. He doesn’t get his second wind for some reason. It’s strange.

Lennox improved with all his different coaches until finally sticking with Emanuel Steward. In contrast, Joshua has been with McCracken from day one. That might explain why he doesn’t throw jabs, and runs out of gas.

“He [Joshua] wants to stay with one coach. That coach [McCracken] is limited. Even as a boxer, he was limited,” said Lewis about Joshua wanting to stay with McCracken. “There’s other trainers out there, older coaches. My coach Emanuel Steward was the best coach out there. He would dissect fighters, and tell you exactly what you needed to do, how to prepare for them, and everything. I think he [Joshua] was lacking that,” said Lewis.

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As a boxer, McCracken (33-2, 21 KOs) was a good domestic level fighter, who won the British and Commonwealth junior middleweight titles during his 10-year pro career from 1991 to 2001. When McCracken tried stepping it up to the world level, he was knocked out in the 11th round by WBC middleweight champion Keith Holmes (41-5, 25 KOs) in April 2000. Holmes would later lose WBC title to Bernard Hopkins by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision a year later in 2001. McCracken’s career came to a screeching halt in his next fight in getting stopped in the 10th round by British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Howard Eastman (49-13, 38 KOs) in April 2001.

“They’ve [Joshua and McCracken] got their way of training. They’ve got their belief in that way,” said Lewis. “It’s worked for them for a while, but now I don’t think it works for them. Other people have figured it out. I know George Foreman put his name out there. He needs someone of that caliber to talk to. George, for me, helped my career just by commenting on my fights, because I listened to him,” said Lewis.

It’s highly unlikely that Joshua will switch from McCracken to George Foreman, even though he would help him greatly by working on his lack of a jab, and improving his conditioning. Foreman would have Joshua running, and that would be a good start. Joshua would do well if he at least brought another coach in to work side by side with McCracken.

Assuming Joshua doesn’t want to dump his old trainer, at least he could bring in someone that would have different ideas. With Joshua’s money, he could get Johnathon Banks, who used to fight under Emanuel Steward. Banks knows Steward’s training system, and he could likely help Joshua if he were willing to listen to him and follow what he says.

“What he’s done, this is history for Mexico,” said Lewis about Ruiz Jr. “I think the first defense should be in Mexico. The whole country will come out for it. I think it would be a great fight too.”

Ruiz Jr. made history with his stoppage win over Joshua by becoming the first Mexican heavyweight world champion ever. Ruiz wants to build on that by unifying the heavyweight division. He wants to hold onto the titles for as long as possible. First, Ruiz will need to beat Joshua in a rematch in November, and then defeat WBC champion Deontay Wilder in a fight for the undisputed championship, possibly in 2020.

Lewis: Joshua was beaten by combination punching

Lennox states that unlike his one-punch fifth round knockout loss to Hasim Rahman in April 2001, Joshua’s loss was from the combination punching from Ruiz Jr. It’s more difficult to train to defeat a fighter that beats you with combination punching than someone that lands a lucky power shot, which is what Rahman arguably did in beating Lewis in 2001.

Ruiz Jr. dominated Joshua with his combination punching, and that’s a much different thing than getting knocked out with a single shot the way Lewis was. Lewis says he knew what he’d done wrong in his loss to Rahman even before climbed out of the ring. He knew what he’d done, and he understood how he was going to go about fixing the problem for the rematch.

Lewis chose to fight Rahman in an immediate rematch, because he knew how to win the second fight. What Joshua is about to do in facing Ruiz in an immediate rematch is a risky thing, because he wasn’t beaten by one punch. It was a massacre. It’s going to be a lot harder for Joshua to overcome what Ruiz did, because he was beating him with his faster hands.

“Anyone can be dropped by one punch,” said Lewis. “With Anthony, it wasn’t one punch. It was more combination punches. He wasn’t mentally prepared for that. When you’re not mentally prepared, there’s a shock period. You go through a shock period where you’re not focused, and you want to get out of there.”

“I didn’t see the focus there that he needed to have, and in some ways, he was disarmed,” said Lewis. “Anytime people come up to you and say, ‘This guy is going to be easy, you’re going to knock him out easy,’ they’re disarming you. I didn’t want people saying that to me when I was fighting. I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ Once they weigh over 200 pounds [they’re a threat],” said Lewis.

Its going to be very difficult for Joshua to prepare for the rematch with Ruiz. Since Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn want the rematch with Ruiz to take place in November in the UK, he’ll only have five months to prepare for the fight. That’s not a long time to get ready for someone that dominated Joshua with speed and combination punching. To come back from a loss like that, Joshua needs more time to prepare, and ideally he should be taking tune-ups. That’s not going to happen. Joshua and Hearn want the rematch to happen straightaway.

“This guy [Ruiz] was 260 pounds. 260 was the weight that was coming at you, and punching you,” said Lewis. said Lewis about Ruiz.

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