Trainer Ben Davison Insists Anthony Joshua’s Improvements Are His Own

Trainer Ben Davison has downplayed his influence on Anthony Joshua in his return to form following the former unified world heavyweight champion’s clinical knockout win against Francis Ngannou on Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs) produced one of his most destructive performances in recent years, knocking down the former UFC titleholder twice before detonating an overhand right on Ngannou (0-2) late in the second round to bring the show to a close.

Joshua’s win over Ngannou is his fourth successive victory and third inside the distance following back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 

Davison is a recent addition to Joshua’s team, following the prior appointment of Derrick James as Joshua’s trainer at the beginning of 2023. James prepared Joshua for his victories against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius.

Joshua changed his surroundings from Texas, where James is based, to an environment closer to home in opting for Davison. The pair linked up ahead of Joshua’s fifth-round victory over Otto Wallin on Dec. 23, which proved to be a much-improved performance, reminiscent of the destructive and confident Joshua of old.

Davison admitted that, against Ngannou, Joshua needed to go after his opponent from the contest’s outset.

“Yes, collectively as a team, we came up with that,” Davison told IFLTV of Joshua’s game plan. “Not disrespecting Ngannou, but everyone was going on about how good his chin was. We were not so sure about that.

“He had never been hit by anyone like AJ, who was going to set up his punches like he does – which he did, and that’s how it happened.”

Davison added that Joshua needed to capitalize on Ngannou’s switching of stances, which he did on numerous occasions in a surprise performance against Tyson Fury last October. Fury scored a knockdown in the opening round as Ngannou switched from orthodox to southpaw, opening the door for Joshua to feint his way into landing a hard-hitting knockdown.

“He is not a natural southpaw, but he switched it up to southpaw,” Davison said of Ngannou. “We told AJ before the fight to drop a right hand to the body, and we were confident that Ngannou was going to try and parry that type of shot. He did try that, AJ sold it and switched it up, and that was the first knockdown.”

Davison dismissed questions regarding the effect of his coaching, instead insisting that Joshua’s improvements should be credited to the fighter himself. The trainer’s role, Davison said, was to assist Joshua in selecting appropriate tactics for each fight.

“It has always been all AJ,” Davison said. “We did not have a magic wand or anything; I just helped him select the right tools for the job.”

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