Anthony Joshua's trainer Robert Garcia has spoken out on the Englishman's defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, claiming he 'had the fight' until Usyk fought back late on. AJ lost to the Ukrainian for the second successive time in Saudi Arabia, after initially losing his titles to the now champion last September.
Throughout the bout, both fighters enjoyed spells of dominance but overall it was Usyk who prevailed after he claimed victory via a split decision. Arguably Joshua's best chance came in round nine, after the Englishman landed a number of punches, putting his rival on the ropes.
The bell clearly came at a good time for Usyk though, as he regrouped before going on to dominate the final three rounds which proved enough for the win.
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Looking back at the fight, Garcia felt that when Joshua returned to his corner following his dominance in round nine the fight was in their hands. Speaking toIZQUIERDAZO, he said: "During that ninth round, in the corner [we] were telling ourselves we had the fight.
"Oleksandr Usyk came back stronger. I've even thought in these last few days that it was Joshua who mentally defeated himself. Joshua was mentally defeated since round ten or 11. Round ten was a big one for Usyk. That changed the whole fight, and mentally we were defeated."
As the fight entered the latter stages, Garcia began to bank on Joshua landing a knockout blow to claim victory but of course it never came. The trainer added: "At that point, we were relying on a good shot or something like that, because Anthony is a hard puncher, and one shot can change a fight.
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"That is what we were hoping for, one shot, because he was dominated at that point of the fight." In true champion style Usyk rallied in the final rounds to defend his title, and rival trainer Garcia only had praise for the Ukrainian's mental power to battle on.
He commented: "In this fight, I think that Usyk was mentally stronger. I think he was stronger, to the point that after being close to a knockout, instead of giving up, he came back stronger. His will and his desire to demonstrate to his country that he couldn’t let himself lose the fight, made him come back.
"He wanted to give a message to his country, for everything that is happening there. He is a big inspiration for them. His mind was what made him turn the tide in the fight and get him to victory. And I think that Anthony’s mind is a bit weaker than Usyk’s, because instead of going out stronger, his mind and exhaustion play games with him.”
Usyk is now being tipped to take on WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who is expected to make a u-turn on his retirement decision.
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