Anthony Joshua has insisted that his long-time trainer Rob McCracken is similar to Sir Alex Ferguson but a need for “another set of eyes” saw him recruit additions to his coaching team.
Joby Clayton and Angel Fernandez were added to the staff led by McCracken prior to Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr when he revamped his approach, leading to two consecutive wins, most recently against Kubrat Pulev.
IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Joshua believes McCracken, the Team GB coach who guided him to a 2012 Olympic gold medal, has the same status as Manchester United’s legendary manager.
“Rob is a gaffer – I look at him like Sir Alex Ferguson,” Joshua told Sky Sports.
“Great manager, great trainer, great experience.”
Joshua explained his evolving team of trainers: “Me and [Sean Murphy] conquered the early stage of the amateurs around England.
“Me and Rob conquered the international stage as amateurs. Then I turned pro and me and Rob conquered the world.
“Around the Wladimir Klitschko fight everybody said: ‘That was a defining fight, you went down got up, showed true warrior spirit.’
“In my head I was thinking: ‘This is a whole new level.’
“There was a level of pressure I was dealing with, moving forwards.
“It’s easy to see what the greats were doing now.
“Before, you couldn’t see because there wasn’t so much [social media].
“There are so many sources of information now.
“Me and Rob were conquering the world, just me and him, but I said: ‘We need another set of eyes.’
“It was about bringing in a new variety to help me explore different levels of greatness.”
The additions of Clayton and Fernandez helped Joshua recover from his defeat to Ruiz Jr and rebound to a position where a fight against WBC champion Tyson Fury has never been closer.
Joshua described Clayton’s unique approach: “Joby is a martial artist who looks at things from a wholesome point of view – lifestyle, going back to the old school 70s Kronk style of fighting where you take a fight to a level where you snapshots and knock people out.
“He said: ‘Loose and heavy.’
“There is no tension. A cold mindset. In the heat of battle who has the coldest mindset?
“In training I look at myself in the mirror and go to my basics – cold mindset, tall spine, biggest man in the room, confidence.
“Sometimes I shadow box and talk as if I’m the commentator.
“You start processing what greatness is. I have self-talk, certain affirmations.”
Trainer Clayton had previously told Sky Sports about his link-up with Joshua: “What interested AJ from my teachings was when I spoke about grace and rhythm.
“Wild animals move in an incredibly graceful way whether they are the hunter or being hunted – their movements are efficient for their very survival, there is no flair.
“I look to develop this grace within an individual, starting with how to breathe efficiently, then becoming aware of their body and how to generate relaxation.”
With a stronger team than ever, Joshua believes he is only just beginning to realise his potential.
“From 18 to 21 I walked into the gym and went to the Olympics,” Joshua said. “From 22 to the world title. Only now I feel like I’ve immersed myself in what boxing really is.
“Now I’ve found what I truly need to be successful. It’s about micro-management.
“Instead of somebody saying: ‘Don’t worry son, you just focus on that and we’ll take care of everything else.’
“I say: ‘No, I want to be involved in everything.’
“I know what I’ve got to do to win. That is a level of maturity.”