By William Lloyd: American trainer Ronnie Shields reports that he met with Anthony Joshua for two days this week about him possibly training him as his lead coach for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
Shields says Joshua wants to be a “Dog” for his rematch with Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) so that can defeat him and win back his IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles that he lost last September.
According to Shields, the only coach that Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) will be keeping is Angel Fernandez.
Joshua feels that he had to come to the U.S to learn a different way of fighting from the European style that he’s been taught in the UK.
Although Joshua didn’t say it, he may have been influenced by Tyson Fury, who has changed his fighting style to a bully type of heavyweight since adding American coach SugarHill Steward to his team. With his roughhouse style, Fury fights nothing like he used to.
Shields had good rapport with Joshua
“They reached out to me and they asked if it’d be interested in taking a look at AJ and see if we can mesh together,” said Ronnie Shields to Thaboxingvoice on Anthony Joshua.
“It would be great to get him to reclaim the world titles that he lost to Usyk, and I think I have the capabilities to help him do that. The last two days, things seemed to go well.
“The first day, it was all talk. We talked for three to four hours. When he came back today, I told him I wanted to do some light pad work to show him everything we talked about. I put him through some drills.
“I knew about it a week before, but I didn’t know who it was because somebody called me and asked if I would be interested in training a top fighter.
“It’s more about game planning,” said Shields in his conversations with Joshua.
“We watched a few rounds of Usyk together, and I pointed out some things that he should have done that he didn’t do.
“We had a great talk yesterday and today was even greater. The talks were really, really good,” Shields said.
AJ knows what he did wrong against Usyk, and he doesn’t need Shields to tell him that he had the wrong game plan. The question is, can Joshua’s body handle a more aggressive game plan for the Usyk rematch?
Joshua feels he had to come to the U.S for training
“There was something I showed him and he said, ‘Man, I was never taught to do this.’ It surprises me that a heavyweight champion of the world doesn’t know certain things. He said European boxers are different than boxing over here in the United States.
“He [Joshua] realized that he had to come to the United States to get something different, and he feels and I feel that I can show him something different that is going to really help him in the rematch [with Usyk].
“I think our chemistry was really well, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over him saying he’s going to go this route or that route.
“And I expected him to fight like a bully, but he didn’t,” said Shields about Joshua’s last fight with Usyk.
“I didn’t ask what their game plan was. I didn’t want to put him through that because obviously, it wasn’t the right game plan.
“And I told him he didn’t fight like himself. I just think he’s a much better fighter than he showed in that Usyk fight.
“Like I said, I watched a few rounds with him and I pointed out some of the things. He said, ‘yeah, that’s what we should have done but we didn’t do it.’
“I didn’t know what the game plan was, but obviously, it wasn’t the right one. He didn’t feel like it was the right one, and that’s why he wants to make a change,” Shields added.
It remains to be seen whether Joshua will improve by being trained by an American coach. If you look at how Joshua fought in the amateur ranks in the Olympics, he was an aggressive fighter that threw a lot of punches.
That was when Joshua weighed in the low 220s, and he didn’t gas out at that weight as he has in the pro ranks. After Joshua turned pro, he bulked up to the 240s, and it’s had a negative impact on his stamina.
Joshua wants to be a “Dog” for Usyk rematch
“He [Joshua] told me, ‘I know people don’t think I’m a dog. I’m just a pure boxer,'” said Shields in revealing one of the things Joshua told him.
“‘Listen, I’m going to be a dog in this next fight,’ and that’s his words. ‘I’m going to be a dog in this next fight. I just need you to show me how to be the best dog you can teach me to be,’ and that answered the question for me.
“My thing for him was, ‘Why did you box the whole time?’ ‘I boxed him, and that as obviously the game plan. I’ll box him.’ To me, that was the wrong fight, and he knows it was the wrong fight.
“For me to teach him to be a dog, he has to have the dog instinct in him already.
“He’s got it in him, he says he’s got it in him. Once things work out and I’m training him. Once he’s in the gym, it’s time to prove it and show it, and then when you get in a fight, you have to show it too,” said Shields.
It might be risky for Joshua to transform himself into a “dog” for his rematch with Usyk because that’ll lead to him getting hit more, and he would be forced to fight at a faster pace.
Assuming Shields can improve Joshua’s chin and stamina, he might pull it off and get the win over Usyk by being a “dog”, but there’s a great deal of risk.
Shields: My system is perfect for Joshua
“Absolutely,” said Shields when asked if, during his conversations with Joshua, he felt that he was the guy to beat Tyson Fury. “He’s a lot bigger than I thought he was. He’s not fat.
“And he’s trimmed up pretty good, and anybody that can punch and put their punches together has a chance against a guy like Tyson Fury.
“But him and I never talked about Tyson Fury. His whole thing was Usyk. But he knows for him to get to Tyson Fury, he needs to get past Usyk first.
“I didn’t see a lot of muscle mass on him. He’s a slim guy. He’s tall but he’s slim. I didn’t see muscles
“I think my system is perfect for him and he feels that way himself. He told me, ‘I like the way you talk to me, and like the way, you’re showing me things. I like all of this.
“I talks to him about the guy that came with him and he explained to me that he wants this guy there.
“And I told him that’s no problem with me. Angel,” said Shields about Joshua saying that he would only be keeping his coach Angel Fernandez if he were to be trained by him, but not Rob McCracken.
“He told me he wants Angel to be with him, and I said, ‘No, problem,” said Shields.
We’ll see if Shields’ system works for Joshua if he chooses to have him take over as his coach.
It’s going to be difficult for Shields to fix Joshua’s chin and stamina problems that have been there since his first turned pro in 2013. If Joshua could change those areas, he would have already a long time ago.