Anthony Joshua says he ‘didn’t like’ criticism from his former trainer and ‘found it strange’ – Boxing News

ANTHONY JOSHUA rounded up some of the “clowns” and critics he believes see him as an easy target.

There is no doubt that the 33-year-old – perhaps still heavyweight boxing's poster boy but no longer the golden boy of the British fight scene in the way he was when he became Olympic champion in London in 2012 and retired Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 – has come under increased criticism in the years since Tyson Fury launched his comeback.

That he is perceived to be in competition with someone increasingly regarded as one of the finest heavyweights in history is undoubtedly relevant, but for all that Joshua largely refuses to respond to those criticisms, it has become increasingly apparent the extent to which they have fallen under his skin.

When he contacted Angel Fernandez even before losing his unbeaten record to Andy Ruiz Jnr, it was tempting to think he had because of the comparisons he endured to Fury and his rival's fluid, cultured style. Throughout the course of the first of his defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, he seemed convinced he needed to outbox a masterful fighter who had never been outboxed before, and while he then realized he needed more intent and aggression in their rematch, Usyk had his measure. and it was simply too late.

Joshua's looks, wealth and status account for the fact that so many others envy him, and in one of the most tribal of all sports and industries, he risked renewed criticism when he left Sky Sports for DAZN. But if his first fight with Usyk taught him the harshest lessons – his first professional trainer, Tony Sims, had long rightly regarded him as a ‘wrecking ball' at his best – before the second he confronted students at Loughborough University after they charged him with cheap assault.

His separation from Rob McCracken ahead of the rematch with Usyk drew further criticism, and McCracken's successor Robert Garcia was also critical of Joshua, which almost certainly contributed to Joshua's recent signing of Derrick James.

Whether his declaration that his motivation to keep fighting is financial was a further demonstration of his relative sensitivity after so many years of admiration may yet become apparent on Saturday at London's O2 Arena when he fights Jermaine Franklin, but the fact that he is back and fighting in a venue not big enough to stage him for the past seven years is likely on his mind as well.

“These people talking about me are looking for me to say something back, but I don't have much to say because these people are not on my level,” he said, speaking on Wednesday and no doubt imagining those he had in consideration. “What do I want to entertain a clown for? It is what it is.

“If anyone has anything to say to me, they can call me; they have my number. I don't need to go online and express my opinions about my enemies, I prefer to remain silent.

“If I have something to say about you, you're going to see me face to face. I'm not going to go online and do it behind a camera.

“When these people see you, at a press conference or whatever, they're like, ‘AJ, how you doing mate?'” How does that work?

“When it was [Carl] Froch [long trained by McCracken] I messaged him directly and said ‘What are you talking crap about me for? Notify me.'

“With [Amir] Khan and that thing with his missus, why did he go online? Message me if you have anything to say.

“I just find it awkward because my background, where I come from, it's not about chasing influence – it's about results.”

Results, more than anything else, are what are most likely to silence those he is referring to. It may even be that, not unlike the great Lennox Lewis, who only became widely and truly appreciated when he retired, it will take Joshua retiring for them to stop.

A victory over the 29-year-old Franklin when he is already the significant favorite for a fight billed by DAZN and Matchroom as the “New Dawn” will not be enough in isolation, but if James has noticeably improved the already impressive Joshua seen in the rematch with Usyk under Garcia—perhaps by encouraging a consistent return to his combo striking—some of the snobbery undertones of some of the criticism that has hurt him and even hindered him as a fighter may diminish, even if the egotistical and attention-seeking criticism doesn't .

Joshua was relaxed, to the point of laughing, as he sat at the top table at his press conference on Wednesday, suggesting he was at least confident of victory. Perhaps more relevantly, and even appropriately, he contrasted the “mentally defeated” fighter Garcia said he saw over the course of their only fight.

“When it comes to your head trainer, I think it's important to keep things internal, especially when you're talking about your fighters,” he said. “There are things I didn't like about some of my old coaches that I could talk about but I won't.

“Nobody's perfect but when you come together in arms to go to war there should be a level of respect. I've worked with Sean Murphy and John Oliver in the amateurs; all the GB coaches; Tony Sims and Rob McCracken in the pros; Angel Fernandez; Joby Clayton; Robert Garcia and Derrick James and Garcia is the first to say what he said.

“And I didn't like that, I thought it was strange. I'm not perfect, trust me, I have tough days in camp, but he went and pointed out these things, out of everything we did in training camp.”

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