As Anthony Joshua embarked on a US tour, visiting the likes of Eddy Reynoso, Ronnie Shields and Virgil Hunter, few thought it would be prior understudy Angel Fernandez taking the reins from Rob McCracken and given the role of formulating a plan to take down Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua was outfoxed by the dazzling Ukrainian who, having relinquished his full collection of cruiserweight titles, put in a performance for the ages as he showcased his largely unparalleled skills in front of a stunned and silenced Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd.
The Briton’s WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts were snatched almost without a whimper, with a 6ft 6in Joshua opting against using his evident physical advantages – advantages which brought him so much success while climbing up the ranks – as he looked to outbox the boxer. A naive move, it proved.
There was immediate clamour for Joshua to part ways with McCracken, as there was in the wake of his first career defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019. This time, though, Joshua obliged. But, again, eyebrows were raised when the inexperienced Fernandez was announced as his replacement.
One man more in the know than most, however, is Frazer Clarke, who made his professional debut earlier in the year, having claimed Olympic Bronze last summer. Clarke, a long-term sparring partner and friend of Joshua, is also trained by Fernandez, with the pair working together at Loughborough University.
Clarke, speaking to Sportsmail, insisted Fernandez can play a crucial role in Joshua becoming a three-time world champion when, hopefully, the pair get it on this summer.
‘I’ve known Angel for a little over a year now,’ Clarke explained. ‘Even pre–Olympics I was coming down and doing sessions with him, once or twice a week, just to give me that little something different. ‘I was working with great coaches in Sheffield, but I felt after one session that he’d added something to my game.