By Tré Berry III🖋️
🇳🇬🇬🇧 ANTHONY “AJ” JOSHUA 🇬🇧🇳🇬
Britain’s latest talented (now former) Heavyweight World Champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua (22-1-0, 21KO) is fresh off of his defeat at the hands of Mexican-American Heavyweight Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. (33-1-0, 22KO), to where Joshua, albeit as good as he can be, is forced to analyze his technique, his inner drive and look himself in the mirror, not only to pick up the pieces and get back to work, but also in looking to push himself to a new level in improving as an overall boxer…
First lets start with his natural gifts which come in abundance. Joshua despite his size is a very technically sound boxer, with a good shotgun jab, one who seldom gets sloppy with his execution, a beneficiary of a well-rounded balanced attack. He’s physically strong, charismatic and a good role model for aspiring boxers to follow. Some people think his personality is fabricated, but it isn’t, and there are two contributors why some people come to that conclusion…for one, in the type of climate we live in currently in a cutthroat world, anytime somewhat exhibits any type of humility or general kindness, peoples antennas go up in suspicion of agenda-driven action, and the second reason being that people feel that his overall banter is rehearsed the way that it comes off, however for the most part, Joshua is someone who loves to talk to the public extensively as a part of the charm factor, which makes it appear that he’s overextending himself because it isn’t normally commonplace for a boxer to not only be able to connect with his audience through his words, but to willingly want to do it, but that is AJ in a nutshell. If anything, he had every reason if he wanted to change his tone following the defeat with a bitter edge to his persona, however he stuck to his guns, congratulated Ruiz and remained gracious in defeat. Now that that’s all out of the way, here is what Joshua will need to work on so that he can improve as a fighter for the long haul.
TUNING-UP PROCESS🔧 – With Joshua, everything seems to point back to the same drawbacks that has been public knowledge for quite some time, yet Joshua and his team haven’t acknowledged such as weaknesses, or perhaps haven’t even been aware of these vulnerabilities. First things first, Joshua has a major stamina problem. He needs to get down to the roadwork far more and leave the weight room alone. While heavily muscled, he tends to come into fights between 246-250 lbs these days, but the extra bulk tends to sap his energy, and his recuperative powers whenever he is hurt, which was evident in his fights against Whyte, Klitschko and Ruiz where he looks like every part of him is physically falling apart for minutes at a time after the initial blow, even through corner sessions. AJ appears to have a lot of moxy, which could obviously be seen in the Klitschko fight, however stamina is a functionality of your chin, as much as your inner strength, your ability to roll a punch, and whether you have your chin tucked in or not, so even if your spirit refuses to let your body go down, it is hard to get yourself back acclimated to your normal state when you’re heavily gasping for wind to the point of exhaustion, which is precisely where Joshua’s chin problems stem from. Another thing for AJ, he has to realize that his immense punching power is a trait that will always stay with him, regardless of any modifications to the build, so he should take a page out of Deontay Wilder’s book in leaning out his physique, and cutting back on the muscle so that he can maximize his air, and his handspeed while keeping the same punching power, coming in at weights between 237-240 lbs for optimal performance.
Lastly, let’s talk about his defense. The style he uses primarily now is one to dare his opponents to come in, holding his left hand low, with onset fear of the right hand in return if you try to step in, which is a very effective style, but it becomes a hindrance to you against someone with quicker hands and speedier reflexes than you; The same could be said about the Philly Shell defense. Every defense has its pros and cons against specific skill types, but it is incumbent of you to be well versed in many different defensive styles to be properly prepared in all situations. For example, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was a master at the Philly Shell, who had the speed and reflex advantage against all-but one fighter that he faced, and that was Zab Judah. Early in their fight, Floyd had a problem rolling Zab’s punches because of the speed they were fired at him, and perhaps found himself trailing Zab in the first half of the fight. Floyd recognized what was going on, and switched primarily to the basic style defense to better pick off Zab’s punches, and to get his offense going, and since the switch, Floyd virtually swept the rest of the fight. How that relates to Joshua is that although he has quick hands, his defensive style was exposed by Andy Ruiz’s quicker hands, and he constantly found his mark, making his power felt, and putting Joshua into that hurt stage where he was gassed, seemingly taking forever to get his legs back every time he got buzzed. Joshua’s weaknesses as you can see tend to intertwine with each other, and it can be fixed if he gets “back to the basics”, but the problem that I see is that there is very limited adaptability in Joshua and with his camp, so it may be time for Joshua to look into a change of Trainers to get the necessary changes in motion to that he can start the improvement process coming back. His current Head-Trainer Rob McCracken has done a good job in getting Joshua up to a certain point, but someone more well-rooted into the craft with more of an aware approach should take over at the helm, and Joshua needs to be receptive in making the changes he need so that he can maximize his full potential.