ANTHONY JOSHUA switching trainers just 12 weeks out from his must-win Oleksandr Usyk rematch is a “huge risk”, admits promoter Eddie Hearn.
The 32-year-old Watford hero lost his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles to the Ukraine master in September and has a rematch booked for April.
The original gameplan, hatched alongside Team GB boss Rob McCracken – to try to outbox the southpaw genius – was panned after the unanimous points loss.
And AJ has been on a tour of the US and Dubai auditioning new trainers like Eddy Reynoso, Virgil Hunter and Floyd Mayweather, with McCracken set to take the fall.
But Hearn concedes such a seismic change, so close to the fight, could carry huge consequences, he said: “It is a huge risk but if you feel like you need a change and you can't go on in a specific way any more, the alternative is much more risky.
“If AJ didn't make any changes and wasn't comfortable with his approach going into the rematch, I feel like we shouldn't be taking that rematch.
“But the fact he's been so proactive and positive and whatever route he goes down, I know he'll be comfortable with that decision.
“I'm a lot more at ease than with the flip side, which is to leave it. He needs something fresh, he's excited.
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“The key thing for him in this fight is being mentally comfortable with his preparation.”
There has been no official announcement on McCracken’s exit, after more than a decade as Joshua’s mentor.
But Hearn insists the man AJ regarded as the Sir Alex Ferguson of his team’s success has not been left in the lurch.
“These conversations have been with Rob and AJ,” he said. “AJ made it clear when he said ‘I will be working with a new trainer’.
“Will that be in conjunction with Rob? I think that's to be announced in the coming weeks.”
Hearn hopes the rematch announcement will follow soon after the training shake-up is revealed, with London hopeful of hosting the rerun again.
Joshua gave conflicting interviews at the end of last year about his interest in taking stepaside money to let Usyk and WBC champion Tyson Fury battle it out to crown an undisputed king.
And Hearn says Dillian Whyte’s overdue shot at Fury finally being mandated played a part in kyboshing that potential money-spinning plan.
The Matchroom boss said: “Conversations about the whole step-aside manoeuvring keep popping up every now and again, because of the desire to stage an undisputed fight.
“But, with the Dillian Whyte situation, those conversations become very difficult, because you have another pawn in the negotiations.
“We got to the stage where it was almost like, ‘let's crack on with the original plan’ and that's where we're at.
“We've had two or three offers from different countries to stage Joshua v Usyk but, for me, after the success of the Spurs fight, other than the result, I would love to do that fight back in the UK, possibly at Spurs again or at Wembley, because I feel like it's a must-win for AJ.
“If we had the opportunity to stage the fight in the UK we should do it, and if he can win that fight on that soil it would be pretty special.”
🥊 Joshua vs Usyk: All the TV, stream and undercard info ahead of Saturday's heavyweight bout
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