Anthony Joshua seems set to make a trainer change after his loss to Oleksandr Usyk on Sept. 25, as he’s visited with Virgil Hunter — who trains Joshua Buatsi — and Canelo Alvarez’s team led by Eddy Reynoso in California.
But he also stopped in Texas and worked out with Ronnie Shields, which is getting the most attention, and may be where AJ winds up landing if he does make a change, which has not been fully confirmed publicly just yet.
“It was them who reached out to me, they reached out to me,” Shields told Tha Boxing Voice. “And they asked me would I be interested in taking a look at AJ and, you know, he would like to come down to Texas and see if things could work out between him and I. So I said, ‘Yeah, no problem, I would love to take a look at him, love to see if we can mesh together.’”
With Joshua set to rematch Usyk in early 2022, he’ll want to be getting to work very soon, especially as making a trainer change with a big fight looming instead of a tune-up is a very serious move, and can be quite tricky to pull off correctly.
Shields believes he would be the right man for the assignment.
“It would be great to get him to reclaim his world titles that he lost to Usyk and I think I’ve got the capabilities to help him to do that,” the veteran trainer said. “For the last two days, everything seemed to go well. The first day was just all talk, we talked for about three or four hours,” Shields said.
“When he came back today, I told him I wanted to do just some light pad work with him to just show him everything we talked about. You can talk it, but you have to be able to prove and show the fighter what you really mean and how I think he should do things. We did some light work and I just put him through some drills that I do that will make him understand what I was talking about the day before.”
Shields added that he did watch some of the Usyk fight with Joshua, and pointed out certain things he thought should have been part of the game plan, saying that Joshua agreed with him.
Over his lengthy career, Shields has trained Pernell Whitaker, Mike Tyson (for Tyson’s fight with Lennox Lewis), Evander Holyfield, Arturo Gatti, Vernon Forrest, Meldrick Taylor, the Charlo brothers, Erislandy Lara, Guillermo Rigondeaux, David Tua, and many more name fighters.
Joshua, of course, has been trained his entire career by Rob McCracken, who led AJ to Olympic gold in 2012 and two world title reigns as a pro. The general belief is that Joshua and McCracken have probably gone as far as they’re going to be able to go, and big time fighters do change trainers — even if a relationship between fighter and trainer isn’t broken or anything of the sort, sometimes it’s good for a fighter to get a fresh set of eyes and ears in the gym, make some tweaks, and hopefully come out better for it.
Is Ronnie Shields the right trainer for AJ? Should AJ be making the move in the first place, or should he have already made it?