Joshua: I Haven’t Spoken To McCracken, Unfortunately; That Whole Breakup Was Tough


Anthony Joshua spoke glowingly about Derrick James again during a press conference Wednesday in London.

Joshua is certain that his recent change of scenery served him well while he prepared for his 12-round fight against Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night at O2 Arena. Working with James at the Dallas gym where one of boxing’s most respected trainers prepares Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo for their fights enabled the British superstar to learn from James without all the distractions that the British superstar encounters while training in England.

James is Joshua’s third trainer in as many fights. Robert Garcia, another highly regarded trainer from the United States, and Angel Fernandez, who previously assisted Joshua’s longtime chief second, Rob McCracken, prepared Joshua for his split-decision loss to Oleksandr Usyk in their 12-round rematch last August 20 at Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Joshua has maintained contact with Fernandez, but he told DAZN announcers Barak Bess, Ade Oladipo and Akin Reyes after the aforementioned press conference that he hasn’t been in touch with McCracken, who trained Joshua for approximately 10 years.

The 33-year-old Joshua believes he will speak again with the man who helped him become a two-time heavyweight champion, but perhaps not until his career is over.

“I haven’t spoken to McCracken, unfortunately,” Joshua said. “You know, that whole breakup – not breakup, but that whole like [situation], yeah, it was tough. It was tough because I’ve got a lotta respect for these guys. But at the same time, it’s like I always say my friends are my family as well. When I’m at war and I’m fighting, I can’t always be the guy maintaining relationships as well. And yeah, some people haven’t even reached out to me as well.

“But I know when I’m done boxing, I can then go and sit down and spend time [with them]. … But yeah, I respect them. Other people from other places, like Virgil Hunter, I went to see Virgil Hunter. We talked. And Ronnie Shields. They’re still cool and all that … But Rob, we haven’t really had too much dialogue. Rob’s always been like that. He’s a busy man.”

Joshua worked with several veteran American trainers, including Hunter and Shields, on a trial basis before he settled on Garcia and later James. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist told several British newspapers after he parted ways with McCracken last May that there was too much internal discord during his training camps and that he needed a trainer who would address him from a psychological standpoint between rounds, not just with technical instructions.

The former IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO champion was criticized following his first defeat to Usyk for trying to out-box the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw. Joshua acknowledged afterward that employed the wrong strategy during a 12-round fight he lost by unanimous decision in September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Watford’s Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) is listed as at least a 10-1 favorite by most sportsbooks to defeat Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), despite his back-to-back points losses to Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs). DAZN’s coverage of the Joshua-Franklin undercard is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. BST on Saturday and 2 p.m. ET.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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