World hasn’t seen best of Joshua, says trainer

Reigning trainer of the year, Derrick James, is confident there is still work to be done with former two-time unified heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, after he became his new trainer just before the confirmation of his upcoming April 1 fight versus Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in London.

“Definitely looking forward to April the 1st,” James said. “I feel the world hasn’t seen the best of Anthony Joshua, especially with the guy I’ve been working with in the gym.

“I know that Jermaine Franklin is a very good fighter and is taking it seriously.”

The sport’s only active trainer to boast two current unified champions, James emerged as a top candidate to land the services of Joshua, who has changed up for his second straight camp.

The hulking British-Nigerian spent the most part of his career serving under Robert McCracken, a former middleweight contender who helped guide Joshua to an Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and two separate unified heavyweight title reigns.

Their union ended after Joshua turned over his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles to Oleksandr Usyk in their first fight in September 2021.

Former IBF junior lightweight titlist Robert Garcia was then brought into Joshua’s camp prior to the rematch with Usyk (20-0, 13KOs), who scored a repeat points win last August in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Joshua was already a rising star prior to his April 2016 second-round knockout of unbeaten IBF heavyweight titleholder Charles Martin. The win was his first of 12 straight title fights, during which he surfaced as the leading gate attraction in the UK and among the best performing pay-per-view headliners.

It is now back to basics for Joshua, who will spend his full training camp in the United States for the first time in his career.

“I think it’s so much about Anthony being the fighter he wants to be and needs to be,” noted James.

“It’s all about him. It’s not about anybody else. It’s about his legacy and him trying to improve on it. At the same time, it’s us building and for him to be the best version of himself that night.

“The time we have is not a lot but it depends on what level you’re working on. We’re working on a high level. He’s a very intellectual fighter. He can do it. He’s maintaining and understanding everything I’m asking him to do.”