The IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles have been out of British boxer Anthony Joshua’s grasp for over three months now after the British boxer suffered a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.
Ahead of the heavily-anticipated rematch, Anthony Joshua’s trainer Robert McCracken has responded to criticism about the boxer’s preparation, as well as questioning if it’s the right time to axe McCracken. McCracken has been in AJ’s corner since December 2016.
Both Joshua and Ruiz have been on a whistle-stop publicity run before the fight, due to take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on December 7.
In an exclusive interview with The Sportsman, available to view below, McCracken has been steadfast with his opinion that he is the right man to remain in Joshua’s camp at arguably the most critical point of his career so far: “I think those comments are predictable.
“You have people in the sport who look at the negatives and you have those who try to make it better and make it work going forward.
“It's nothing I care too much about. Me and Anthony have a great relationship, he doesn't just train with me, he trains with a variety of people over the years, but I'm the head coach while he wants me to be head coach.
He's a great guy, we get on very well and I believe he can achieve other great things in the sport.
McCracken also informed The Sportsman as to where he believes Joshua went wrong in the first fight with Ruiz. He said: “In the first fight, he rushed it when he knocked Ruiz down, it's very clear what he did wrong and he got caught. Ruiz is a good puncher and he’s a heavyweight and this happens in heavyweight boxing time and time again. It's a lesson learnt and I hope he can put it right in the rematch.
“He's just going to learn from the fight and prepare diligently. Listen Ruiz is a great fighter, he's a heavyweight champion and Anthony has got to be at his very best to beat Ruiz and win those titles back and he's aware of that and that's what he plans to do.
“A heavyweight champion will take the option to get his titles back and redeem himself. I think the key factor is that Anthony stays calm, doesn't rush and uses his reach to control Ruiz.”
Much has also been made of Joshua’s weight chance, with social media snaps showing the boxer with a leaner frame. He added: “His weight isn't the be all and end all,' McCracken argued, “he will come into the fight a bit leaner with a bit less muscle, but not a lot, it's not a big deal.
"He's a big guy anyway, he's a huge guy, he will come in slightly leaner, but Ruiz will also. They both plan to come into this fight leaner."
McCracken also weighed in on the controversy of holding the bout in Saudi Arabia, a location that has come under criticism from organisations including Amnesty International, ahead of such venues as Wembley Stadium in London and the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, both of which have been stages for Joshua before in the past.
“The opportunity came up, I think the neutral country option is viable," he said. "I think Andy was not over keen on coming to Wales, certainly we weren’t over keen on going to the States for the rematch. The Saudis have come in and offered us a spectacular offer to stage it and it's neutral - it will be fantastic. It will be worldwide and it’s something to look forward to because it’s going to be a fantastic fight and I think Eddie [Hearn] said it earlier - it’s a fight and it’s a world heavyweight title fight and it’s fascinating.
“I think it will suit both fighters and I think we’ll get a great fight.”
Watch the full, exclusive interview with Rob McCracken below.