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Boxing: Shane McGuigan believes AJ changes give him best opportunity possible of prevailing against Oleksandr Usyk

The appointment of Robert Garcia as Anthony Joshua's head coach for Saturday's huge rematch could prove pivotal for the British fighter, Shane McGuigan has told bet365.

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Trainer Shane McGuigan believes Anthony Joshua’s decision to appoint Robert Garcia as his head coach will provide him with the best possible opportunity of overcoming Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.

AJ will attempt to piece together the biggest puzzle of his glittering career in Jeddah on Saturday, as he bids to rectify last September's shock defeat to the Ukrainian and establish himself as a three-time world heavyweight champion.

A cautious Joshua was outclassed by the former cruiserweight king at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as the 35-year-old made a mockery of many people’s pre-fight predictions that the British fighter’s size and power advantage would steer him to victory.

But after making significant changes to his coaching team in the aftermath of his second professional defeat, replacing long-term trainer Rob McCracken with Garcia, McGuigan feels the Watford-born fighter now boasts a greater chance of success.

“He (Garcia) won’t mollycoddle him, he won’t just tell him what he wants to hear, he’ll tell him what he needs to hear, and for me that could be a defining moment for AJ,” he told bet365 out in Saudi Arabia.

“The problem with boxing when you get to that level is there’s loads of money involved, a load of people telling you what you want to hear, and unfortunately you gravitate towards a stroke on the leg rather than a stick on the back.

“For him to beat Oleksandr Usyk he needs to have a conductor, he needs to have someone who he respects and can control the camp and genuinely just crack the whip.

“He still might not beat him! But he will have a much better opportunity to get himself battle ready, rather than saying: ‘I don’t want to spar today, or I want to work on tech sparring today, I want to work on this shot today’.

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“You can’t have that, that’s when you know the relationship is terminated from my experience. It’s not good for the fighter, and really in hindsight I think they reflect and realise that, but you’ve got to have some harsh lessons before you do so.

“He’s corrected his decision, he’s corrected his camp, but we will see on August 20. Hopefully it’s been enough time for Robert Garcia to really implement a good game plan.”

For many, Joshua is likely to need to be far more aggressive and front-footed than he was in the previous fight to have any chance of victory, and whilst McGuigan is in full agreement with them, he says it is absolutely vital that Joshua and his team manage to strike the right balance.

“Being aggressive could be really beneficial for AJ, but he also could walk on to something, so he has got to be very careful” McGuigan added.

“But being on the front foot is, for me, the only chance he’s got of winning – he has to be aggressive and hopefully, in his eyes, he catches Usyk first.

“But listen, Usyk has enough power to knock heavyweights out, especially with the momentum of them walking on to him. He can generate power on the back foot, he can walk you on to shots and it’s the speed of his shots.

“He had AJ hurt in the last round as well and that will give Usyk a lot of confidence knowing that he’s able to nail him and have the power to hurt him.”

By Mark Mothershaw

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