Ahead of Anthony Joshua’s hotly anticipated rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, Paddy Power caught up AJ’s former coach Tony Sims.
Tony Sims Exclusive: AJ will have the mental edge over Usyk as he’ll be mentally affected by the situation in Ukraine
“It will be a lot harder fight than the first one because I know AJ well, obviously I’ve coached him in the past. I do believe it will be a very, very hard fight, but he is capable of beating Usyk.
“As I said before, this is probably the best time to get Oleksandr Usyk as even though physically he will probably be in great shape – and I don’t know him as a person – but if you’ve got the sort of problems going on such as, if you were training for a fight abroad when your country was under siege and you have friends and family living there, there is no way, 100%, you could not think about that.
“So, if you’re ever going to get Usyk at a weaker time, it would probably be now. As I’ve said many times, this game is 70% mental, and you don’t know how his mental state is. I understand why he is taking the fight now, because firstly, he has to defend his titles, and number two, he’s going out to a massive audience as well, so he can put it out there. I don’t know what’s going on in the Ukraine, but mentally I’m not sure he will be as focused as he was last time.”
Tony Sims Exclusive: AJ should have kept Rob McCracken as coach
“I know Robert Garcia quite well, and I’ve been to his gym a few times when I’ve been in Los Angeles. His fighters fight aggressively so I know why AJ has brought him on board, he trains fighters to be aggressive and that’s the way his fighters fight.
“He should have kept Rob McCracken on board because he knows AJ inside out and they could have just worked on being more aggressive in the second fight. That’s done now anyways, and he’s brought in Robert, who is an aggressive style of trainer and that’s what he needs.
“The only worrying thing for me is whether he has had Robert Garcia long enough in his camp because he probably could have done with working with him since the last fight because then you really start gelling together, as the longer you’re together the more you can see as a coach, the more the fighter gels with you. It’s a good move bringing him on board, but I don’t know whether it’s a move that’s been done for long enough.”
Tony Sims Exclusive: I would have had AJ take a warm-up fight before the rematch with Usyk
“I suggested that Anthony Joshua should get a warm-up fight in an interview after he got beaten by Andy Ruiz Jr., then he sort of made me eat my words a little bit so it’s just his way of thinking. My way of thinking, as a trainer, is when you suffer a loss, I prefer to get you back in and get someone lesser and get your confidence back because a lot of boxing is mental.
“Confidence is a big side to it and that’s my way of thinking, but AJ’s way of thinking is he doesn’t want to do things like that and have warm-up fights, he just wants to get straight back in there. He’s done it once before, and he’s capable of doing it once again.
“I don’t know how his training has gone, but I’m hearing he’s in good shape. 70% of this game is mental so if he’s focused mentally and physically, he is in great condition, he’s got the size and power to win this fight. He just has to put everything in motion that he’s been working on, he’s got to put it all in on the night of the fight.”
Tony Sims Exclusive: Tyson Fury would come out of retirement to fight AJ
“Tyson Fury will come out of retirement to fight the winner of AJ and Usyk. He’s obviously throwing a bone out there by saying ‘I’m retired and here’s my Ring Magazine belt’, but Tyson Fury is, as he says, a fighting man.
“The whole of the world and Britain want to see the Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury fight. There is no way I could see Fury turning that down. Obviously if Oleksandr Usyk wins I don’t see Fury turning the fight down. He has kept his WBC belt, and I don’t think he would turn down the other belts as well to be unified champion. I don’t believe he will retire, but will he retire after doing that? I believe he probably would.”