He is one of if not the hottest trainer in the game today. Texas-based Derrick James handles Errol Spence, Jermell Charlo, and a new add is in the mix, ex heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. AJ is looking, both within himself and outside, to recharge his career momentum after suffering back to back losses to Oleksandr Usyk.
The affable Texan, who campaigned as a pro from 1992-2008, amassing a 21-7-1 mark, spoke to Ak and Barak on The DAZN Boxing Show and shed some light on how he hooked up with the chiseled Brit, and his take on the athlete, and his prospects in the near term.
How was Derrick James first contacted about working with Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), the trainer was asked.
“DM,” he answered. “I get a whole lotta them,” he said, grinning. But this was legit; Joshua associate “KD” asked about his availability and willingness to add a client to his mix after weeks of being cagey who he was repping. The trainer said sure, AJ can come to Dallas, soak it up…but his methods cannot be imparted so quickly. “It’s a process of learning, day by day by day.” So AJ scheduled four days in Dallas—this was back in December—and what stood out for the tutor? “His athleticism, how he moved fast, his mobility,” James said.
Interestingly, Derrick James said he’d only seen AJ fight two or three times, when he beat Charles Martin, when he downed Wladimir Klitschko, and when AJ starched Dominic Breazeale.
The Texan told the duo that AJ came off as “a real guy,” and he liked the response when he told AJ he’d not be a rah rah type who blew smoke to him. “I’m not a cheerleader, I’m not that kinda guy.”
Barak asked Derrick James if when he saw Joshua versus Usyk, did he think he could have furnished the right game plan and motivation so AJ had a better strategy, and thus result? “To be honest, I really didn’t care,” he responded. That’s because, he affirmed, he doesn’t watch much boxing as a “fan” so really, he hadn’t formed an opinion on AJ’s outings versus the technical wizard Usyk. (He later expounded some on why he doesn’t watch much. Not enough contact, he said, guys aren’t busy and aggressive enough, much of the time.)
The three chuckled when James recalled AJ visiting the state on a prior trainer search. He did a sample session with Ronnie Shields, but not Derrick.
Derrick James continued: He recalled that AJ walked into the gym, and saw Spence sparring. Frank Martin, a rising star, is another James client, so yes, it’s something of a team atmosphere.
Did Derrick James go at a deficiency right away? He said he’d wondered why Joshua wasn’t using some attributes he possesses against Usyk, so he will spend more time with the Brit, and then he’ll better know how to situate things so Joshua can get the most of his skills.
OK, friends, talk to us, on social media: predict how the Anthony Joshua-Derrick James mashup goes. Joshua will face off with Jermaine Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) on April 1. Does that give James enough time to have much of an impact on Joshua? Joshua is 33, can the older dog learn new tricks? Talk to us!