By Barry Holbrook: Carl Froch believes Anthony Joshua has a “tough” task ahead of him to try and avenge his loss to Oleksandr Usyk in their rematch on August 20th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Froch notes that Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) has lacked the “fire in his belly” since his second fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019, and he’s not sure whether replacing coach Rob McCracken will bring back the aggressive fighter he’d been in the past.
Joshua’s new trainer Robert Garcia can tell him to be aggressive, but if he’s not willing to follow his instructions for fear of getting clipped or running out of gas against Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), he might as well be back with McCracken.
Froch thinks Joshua shouldn’t bother turning up for the fight if he doesn’t have the mindset to fight aggressively because he will get beaten again if he lacks self-confidence.
Usyk will be defending his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles against Joshua on August 20th.
The 32-year-old Joshua will be looking to fight more aggressively in the rematch than he did last time he fought Usyk, so we’ll likely be seeing a lot of big power shots thrown from him almost immediately.
Joshua has a difficult task ahead
“I don’t think it pans out. I think it’s going to be difficult for Joshua to beat Usyk in this rematch; it’s going to be very difficult unless he changes his train of thought and his mindset,” said Carl Froch to iFL TV about Anthony Joshua needing to change his mental game for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
“His mindset needs to be bang on, and he needs to start believing in himself and go into that ring with all the confidence that he can and do the job. If he goes in believing, he can achieve.
“I just think since the Ruiz loss, he hasn’t had that mindset and hasn’t had that mentality as a winner. He just sort of got through the rematch with Ruiz, and I wasn’t impressed with the Pulev victory.
“I’ve not seen that fire back in his belly. I don’t think leaving Rob McCracken, I don’t know it was a good decision or not, but I’m hoping it works out to be a good decision for him in terms of it changing his mentality.
“Maybe a change is good when as anything else when you have a rematch with somebody like Usyk because he needs to do something different.
“Hopefully, his new coach can bring that out of him and bring him back to his old way of thinking when he was a little bit more naive and a bit more green when he fought Dillian Whyte and climbed off the floor against Klitschko to get that win.
“That sort of mentality and that sort of tenacity where he’s just fighting on instinct, using his size, his strength, and big shots, letting the shots go. That’s what we need to see,” Froch said.
Oleksandr bigger for rematch
“Usyk is a very clever kid. He’s not a kid,” Froch continued. “What is he, 34? “He’s a very tricky operator, and he looks big now, he looks strong and bigger than when he fought the first fight. I don’t know if that’s going to be an advantage or a disadvantage. We’ll wait and sit. Yeah, it’s a tough one for AJ.”
It could be a mistake on Usyk’s part to pack on a bunch of weight because he’ll be slower, easier to hit, and he could run out of gas against Joshua.
The last thing Usyk wants is to get tired against a big puncher like Joshua and find himself at the mercy of his big shots.
“I’m not saying he can’t do it because he can,” said Froch. “Of course, he can. With all his attributes, he needs to get it right mentally. He needs to get his head right. Otherwise, he might as well not turn up.
“If he doesn’t believe in himself, he might as well not even turn up. If he’s that frustrated and annoyed from the performance, he put in against Usyk in the first fight because it was a poor performance.
“Tactically, he got it wrong, and when he knew he was losing it round after round, I think he should have changed,” Froch said about Joshua. “He should have changed his game plan, and he never did.
“It’s difficult to change a pattern during a fight. You have to be a very special type of fighter to change your mindset and change your tactics during a fight.
“You’re doing things at the time, hoping things will start to change for you, but obviously, he did the same round after round after round, and he got conclusively outboxed and beat up at the end of the fight.
“In round 12, he was getting quite a bad beating. He needs to employ different tactics and get his mind on the job. It’s difficult to know,” said Froch when asked how Joshua can get the tactics right for his rematch with Usyk.
Does Joshua need a psychologist?
“I had a good psychologist for my rematch with George Groves,” said Froch. “He just kind of put my mind in perspective. He taught me how to channel my emotions positively.”
It could take years for a psychologist to make headway with Joshua to solve whatever mental problems that are holding him back from being the fighter that he once was, and it might not be possible.
A psychologist isn’t going to fix Joshua’s fragile chin & poor stamina, and those two problems are the major reasons he fell apart against Andy Ruiz Jr.
“I seen the fight with Usyk with Joe Joyce on the World Series of Boxing, which is a five, three-minute round for those who don’t know,” said Froch. “I’ve never seen Joe Joyce get beat so conclusively by anybody, sparring or in a fight.
“That just shows how good Usyk is. But Usyk aside, I think Joe Joyce is a serious threat in the heavyweight division. I’d like to see him fight Usyk actually. You never know. He might do something tactically different.
“He’s going to be the mandatory, so he definitely deserves a shot and a payday. I like Joe Joyce a lot,” said Froch.
It would be interesting to see Usyk and Joe Joyce mix it up now in 2022, ten years after the two fought in the World Series of Boxing a decade ago.
If Usyk still holds IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles after August 20th, we could see him defend against Joyce if Tyson Fury chooses not to fight him.