Anthony Joshua’s trainer said his fighter was “mentally defeated” by Round 10 of his split-decision loss to heavyweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk last Saturday.
Robert Garcia told Izquierdazo that Joshua came close to winning the rematch in the ninth round, when he seemed to hurt Usyk, but the Ukrainian’s ability to bounce back in the following round gave Joshua only a puncher’s chance down the stretch.
Usyk won the final three rounds on two of the scorecards and two of three on the third card, which gave him the victory. He won 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115.
“Joshua was mentally defeated since round 10 or 11,” Garcia said. “Round 10 was a big one for Usyk. That changed the whole fight, and mentally we were defeated. At that point, we were relying on a good shot or something like that, because Anthony is a hard puncher, and one shot can change a fight.
“That is what we were hoping for, one shot, because he (Joshua) was dominated at that point of the fight.”
He went on: “The fight was going well for us, but the 10th round changed everything. The last three rounds of the fight were the ones that changed the fight. In the ninth round we were close to winning, perhaps even by knockout. Through Round 9, we were winning the fight on the judges’ scorecards, but it was decided in the last rounds.
“Usyk is a great fighter, with a tremendous heart, who knows how to finish strong, like champions do.”
Garcia said he believed Joshua would win the fight as he watched the ninth round. In retrospect, he thinks Joshua might’ve expended too much energy in an effort to finish off Usyk.
“During that ninth round, me and the guys in the corner were telling to ourselves that we had the fight,” Garcia said. “But nothing is secured until the final bell. Usyk came back stronger in the 10th round, and that changed the fight. I have even thought in these last few days that it was Anthony Joshua who mentally defeated himself.”
“In the ninth, Joshua threw a lot of punches, and almost put Usyk out,” he added. “Maybe, he emptied out, but maybe it was just that Usyk came stronger and more motivated to the 10th round, we don’t know.”
In the end, Garcia said, the fight came down to determination.
“In this fight, I think that Usyk was mentally stronger,” he said. “I think he was stronger, to the point that after being close to a knockout, instead of giving up, he came back stronger. His will and his desire to demonstrate to his country that he couldn’t let himself lose the fight, made him come back.
“He wanted to give a message to his country, for everything that is happening there. He is a big inspiration for them (Ukrainians). His mind was what made him turn the tide in the fight and get him to victory. And I think that Anthony’s mind is a bit weaker than Usyk’s, because instead of going out stronger, his mind and exhaustion play games with him.”