Anthony Joshua has drafted in US Navy Seals to condition his responses to the seismic shock of being knocked down and semi-conscious.Just as he was by Wladimir Klitschko and only just recovered his senses in time to rescue his world heavyweight titles and his unbeaten record.
Just in case Andy Ruiz Jr catches him with a disorientating punch in Madison Square Garden tomorrow.Comrades of the elite unit who killed Osama Bin Laden have been preparing Joshua for any recurrence of his Wembley Stadium crisis by showing him photographs of soldiers who had been shot.
‘Then the military guy explained how they deal with that and how to control the situation,’ says Joshua. ‘Seals are put under enormous pressure to find out how they will react to extreme happenings.‘Say I have a plan to beat Ruiz but he comes out and clips me with one big shot. What’s the best I can do to get over it? It’s a lot to do with communication within your team, simplifying all our jargon and giving us a target to get us through these Saturday nights.
‘So now I’ve added a lot more information to all my experience down the years. It’s part of a lot of things I’m exploring to keep me improving. Keep me ahead of this one tough game.’ That includes recruiting a psychologist for the first time since he was with Team GB and winning Olympic Gold.
‘The psychology is fascinating,’ he says. ‘I got interested when I heard that Mike Tyson’s famous old trainer Cus D’Amato was also a psychologist and he got into Tyson’s mind.
‘You learn about how your brain reacts. Sometimes he works me with me one-to-one. Sometimes he works with my team without me and then they have to implement it with me.‘Then we debrief. We discuss strategy on a daily basis. We don’t wait until the end of camp and suddenly find out oh f***, we should have done this or that.
‘Better that we all sit round the table every day and be open and honest with each other. I talk about where I’m struggling a bit and everyone else does the same. We come up with the answers.
‘I’ve found myself asking my trainer Rob McCracken to do extra training at weekends instead of taking the days off. It’s to do with the way I am. If I am convinced I’m going to learn something I’ll put in the time. Otherwise not. Make me understand why we’re doing something and I give 100 per cent.
‘This is a better way than just turning up for training and then beasting myself to keep condition and focus.‘Everything we do now is for a purpose. I have four of the five championship belts but I’m still learning. For a week we might work on the right hand but are more creative about how we set up the punch. Just as importantly we enjoy it. We have fun. As a result I’ve got more energy.’ Joshua certainly is full of animated life here. He describes the Seals as ‘tough mothers’ but they have boosted his self-confidence.