Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and promoter Frank Warren were amongst senior figures in boxing suggesting that Anthony Joshua should part ways with coach Rob McCracken following his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in New York.
Joshua lost his three world title belts and his unbeaten record after the 25-1 underdog dropped the Briton four times in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight boxing history.
“I say you can’t go to university with your third grade teacher,” said Lewis, calling into question the advice Joshua was being given between rounds by trainer McCracken. “They won’t have the answers you need at that level. You need a professor by then.”
Warren, promoter of Tyson Fury who fights in Las Vegas in 12 days time, told The Telegraph: “I’ve made my views clear about the trainer. Somebody’s got to be accountable for this. I don’t like the trainer at all. I think his job as an amateur where he gets the best fighters given to him, everything’s been done with them.
“What’s he doing, an amateur trainer, training Joshua for professional title fights? What sparring operations is he getting? Sparring with amateurs.”
Warren added: “I say what I see. What I’ve seen all the way through it is an outstanding young prospect not improved, not improved at all. The world heavyweight championship was given to him on a plate by the worst heavyweight champion ever in Charles Martin.
“He then fought Wladimir Klitschko who had been taken to school 18 months earlier by Tyson Fury. Klitschko has always been safety first. He had Joshua on his backside, and if he had anything like Ruiz did, Klitschko would have stopped Joshua.
“Show me a world class fighter Joshua has fought other than that? Dillian Whyte? Whyte was in a life-and-death fight with Dereck Chisora, and Tyson Fury didn’t just beat Chisora but destroyed him in their second fight.
“At the end of the day it’s about boxing. Joshua has done really well with the endorsements. But the world will now change for Joshua big time.”
It was Warren who helped Frank Bruno win the world title at the fourth time of asking.
“With the greatest respect, Frank Bruno got beaten by world-class fighters. World class. But Joshua was beaten by Andy Ruiz. Joshua’s dad was upset for obvious reasons.
“It’s all very well having a deal with DAZN in the USA, but everything levels out in the end. It’s down to one thing: what people know about boxing. The whole way this has been done, they’ve had the luckiest ride of any heavyweight ever in the division. Charles Martin – he was garbage. They got the title because Tyson Fury vacated the titles. One man’s bad luck is another man’s good luck. And that’s what he got. Here we are now in a situation where he’s not fought anyone of note.”
On a rematch with Ruiz, Warren added: “What else is Joshua going to do? Where’s he going to go? He’s got to rematch him. And let me tell you, it’ll be the same next time. This fella took the fight at five weeks notice. He’ll get a full camp this time.
“Ruiz has got fast hands and he threw shots. He got up off the floor. He got caught with a cracking shot. We know Joshua is a big puncher, but he showed balls and got up.
“Compare that to when Tyson went down against the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division. He not only got up but took the fight to him and was winning the round.
“That’s what you do. That’s the difference. It’s not about being carved out to marble, it’s about boxing ability and desire. I’m not saying that Joshua doesn’t want it, but he didn’t look like he wanted to be in there after two rounds. The referee did him great favours with the count, too. He gave him a lot of time to recover.”
Joshua’s inability to recover after the third round may be explained by his sparring in camp. According to one source, another promoter, Joshua “was banged up in sparring during his time in Florida”.
Indeed, as I reported in The Telegraph on the day of the Joshua-Ruiz fight, the British fighter had played down marks on his face on the evening of the press conference, last Thursday in New York. Joshua had an inflamed right eyelid, a swelling under his left eye a and a cut on his nose, which he explained were the results of “hard sparring”.
It is believed that Agit Kabayel, the European champion, who has a 19-0 record, put Joshua on the canvas hard when they traded blows in sparring, which may have affected Joshua on fight night. It is believed that Joshua’s father, Robert, wanted his son removed from headlining the contest on June 1, but his requests were not acted on.
Warren, meanwhile, admitted it was “a wake-up call” for Fury, who meets unbeaten German Tom Schwarz on June 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Warren insisted a Fury victory is not a foregone conclusion, with Schwarz, unbeaten and ambitious, gunning to make his name.
“Of course it’s not a gimme. Fury is fighting a guy who is 24-0, a young buck who has never been beat. He’s not fought anyone of significance. I get that. But they have small gloves and one punch changes the whole fight. That’s where we are and there’s a lot at stake.”