Anthony Joshua trainer Angel Fernandez, opens up on secret, tactics behind Andy Ruiz win
After losing his unified world heavyweight titles in a shock defeat against Ruiz on June 1, Joshua conjured up a boxing masterclass to reclaim them in Saudi Arabia last Saturday.
The 30-year-old jabbed and weaved his way to a unanimous points victory – and many believe his classy display was largely down to Fernandez.
Along with Wolverhampton-based coach Joby Clayton, the Spaniard, who specialises in the technical side of the sweet science, was brought in to work alongside Rob McCracken for the rematch.
In an exclusive interview with Starsport, Fernandez explains why Joshua was so cool, calm and collected at the Diriyah Arena.
“He was very, very relaxed. I never saw a man thinking ‘everyone’s eyes are on me’. Nah, nah, nah, nah. I don’t think he actually felt that pressure,” he says.
“Very, very, very relaxed. Very relaxed. And the sparring is exactly the same, exactly the same, as he did in the fight.
“Me watching the fight was [the same as] me watching him in the sparring sessions. It’s just like, wow.
“I said that to him after the fight. ‘Watching you there is what you’ve done in the past x amount of sparring sessions.’
“And we kind of made him keep thinking that way as well. I said ‘listen, it’s gonna be a sparring session, but a different opponent. Just keep doing what you have been doing. You have been learning, you have been studying and now it’s down to you to do the fight yourself. You know you have been well prepared, you’ve been studying everything, and it’s just taking it as it is.’
“And he nailed it. He absolutely nailed it.”
Disciplined, strategic boxing has not been Joshua’s way for the majority of his six-year professional career.
The Olympic gold medallist claimed 20 knockouts in his first 20 fights, before being taken to the scorecards for the first time by Joseph Parker in March 2018.
It was both surprising and refreshing, then, to see him keep Ruiz at bay with a ramrod jab, while unleashing a blistering right hand on varied occasions.
When I ask Fernandez if we will see more perfect pugilism from Joshua in the future, he says: “Maybe, but it’s a process.
“Whoever comes next, we analyse it and then you adjust the way that you prepare, the way that we want him to fight, if he’s going to be at long range or on his toes. You have to just adapt to each opponent.
“You might have the basics, but then you have to put the adaptations for whoever is going to be in front of you.
“Whatever we have to do in order to beat that other man that’s in front, we just have to go with that really.
“But I think he improved overall technically and there is more room for improvement.
“I’m sure that in the next fight, in six months or whatever amount of time he fights after Saturday, I’m sure we will see a different Joshua or even a more improved boxer, because he learns quick.
“He is guy that learns quick. He wants to learn as well and he wants to do other things.
“I’ve got so much respect for him, not just as a boxer but also as a person, because what you see from the outside is actually what you get. What you see is what you get from him”