Robert Garcia insists his comments about Anthony Joshua were lost in translation.
Garcia, the veteran trainer from Southern California, recently found himself in the hot seat when headlines from the Spanish-language boxing website Izquierdazo began making ripples in the English-language press.
The articles featured Garcia's opinions on Joshua's performance in his heavyweight rematch with Oleksandr Usyk last month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the Ukrainian ended up holding on to his WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF titles with a split decision win.
One story had Garcia on record saying that Joshua had been “mentally defeated” by the 10th round, which saw Usyk dominate the Londoner. In the round before, Joshua appeared to change the tenor of the fight with his own offensive sally.
In another story, also published by Izquierdazo, Garcia said he wanted Joshua to put pressure on Usyk much earlier in the fight.
Garcia says his words had been misinterpreted when they were translated into English from Spanish, and that he was not trying to be critical of his charge. Garcia linked up with Joshua heading to the Uysk rematch.
“I haven’t talked to nobody, especially in English,” Garcia told ESNews. “You’re the first person I’m talking to. I talked to a Spanish reporter that I know so I gave him a little interview. But from Spanish translated to English they make it seem ‘Robert talking sh!t’ pretty much. But no. I wouldn’t say that about my fighters, man. I've never done that before and I never will.”
César González Gómez, Executive Director for Izquierdazo, denied Garcia's claims of being mistranslated.
In a statement, Izquierdazo, the news site which published the initial Garcia stories and also translated them to English, said "We stand by our reporting and our translation."
Regarding his comment about Joshua being “mentally defeated”, Garcia said he was simply trying to show how much he appreciated Usyk’s effort in the pivotal 10th round.
“Anthony was fighting a great fight,” Garcia said. “After the ninth round, Usyk, we all thought he was done. Came back stronger, mentally and physically. He surprised me. So he did come back stronger, maybe he did come back stronger than Anthony. I’m giving Usyk props, telling the truth. That doesn’t mean that Anthony was mentally beat. No, I just said Usyk was stronger.
“I said Usyk, after being hurt real bad in the ninth, he came back in the 10th like that never happened,” Garcia later added. “He became strong. You have to applaud that. He came back knowing he needed those rounds to win. So he came back like a lot of fighters have done before. That’s not saying that Anthony was beat mentally … Usyk came back strong and dominated those three rounds.”
Garcia pointed out that there would be no incentive for him to say something that was critical of his fighter.
“Why would I say something bad about him? He’s a great athlete. And he was f------ winning when the ninth round ended, on the scorecards, he was ahead. One judge had him winning after the 12th.
“He was actually winning after the ninth round and then the last three were the difference. Usyk came back f------- strong. So is that lying? Or talking sh!t? No, I’m just saying the way it was."
Garcia believes that Joshua can bounce back, although he noted that he was not sure if he would be in the heavyweight’s corner in his next outing in the ring. Joshua has stated he wants to return to the ring before the end of the year, and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, also indicated recently that December is the month they are shooting for.
“Can Anthony come back?” Garcia said. "Hell yeah. With or without me he’s going to come back. He’s gonna come back stronger. Going into an immediate rematch (with Usyk) we didn’t have to [do that]. That says a lot about him right away. Knowing how hard the first fight was and wanting to get his belts back right away, the first fight with him, it wasn’t going to be easy.
“[We told him] 'Don’t take that fight, don’t take that fight, let’s take two or three fights before that, and then get the big one.’ Well, yeah, that would probably be the best thing for him to do, but, no, he wanted that f------ rematch. So that says a lot about him. He’s not a guy that’s gonna try and go the easy route.”