Back in Sheffield: Anthony Joshua on defensive over trainer Rob McCracken ahead of rematch

Andy Ruiz Jr (right) lands a punch on Anthony Joshua in the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Championships title fight back in June.
Andy Ruiz Jr (right) lands a punch on Anthony Joshua in the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Championships title fight back in June.
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Anthony Joshua has launched an impassioned defence of his trainer Rob McCracken following the criticism that followed his stunning knockout defeat to Andy Ruiz in June.

Joshua insisted he never considered replacing McCracken, who will once again be in his corner for the 30-year-old’s rematch in Saudi Arabia on December 7.

McCracken’s tactics were heavily criticised by former world champion Lennox Lewis among others, while the trainer’s 
admission that he allowed Joshua to fight on despite fearing he 
was concussed also drew criticism.

But Joshua, who has had McCracken by his side since he first joined the GB Boxing set-up in Sheffield in 2010, insisted his influence is strong and important enough to prosper even in the wake of such a stunning setback.

Joshua said: “Rob is more than a trainer.

“He helped me when I got kicked off the GB squad and they didn’t want me back on, but Rob spoke up for me.

“It’s good to have someone around you who can guide you through the snakes and sharks of the industry. Rob has been through it all himself and there are years of understanding between us.

“Rob is more than just a pad man.

“There are a million pad men out there, but you have to be selective about who can guide you.

“We have added things for sure, but we are never going to change.”

Joshua has armed himself with a keen sense of perspective in the months following his loss to Ruiz, a late replacement who was considered a mere stepping stone to bigger unification bouts against the likes of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

He insists that training back at the GB headquarters in Sheffield, where his international career began amid budget hotel stays and strict group training sessions, will give him a crucial advantage as he seeks the win that will resurrect his career.

“I’ve learned a lot of things from the defeat,” added Joshua. “I’ve learned to take a loss like a man, and to be thankful that I have a second opportunity to go again.

“I don’t like to talk about it too much because the thing that goes on the record is the loss, not the description.

“It definitely had an effect on me, but it takes more than that to knock a man like me back,” he added.