Anthony Joshua's former trainer fears pursuit of 'perfection' is holding him back

Tony Sims believes that Anthony Joshua has become guilty of seeking “perfection”.

The heavyweight at the weekend recorded his first stoppage since that of Kubrat Pulev in December 2020, when beating late-replacement opponent Robert Helenius inside seven rounds.

That the 39-year-old Helenius was installed as his opponent with less than a week’s notice potentially contributed to the “caution” Sims, Joshua’s first professional trainer, detected, as much as the fact that he is undergoing a process of reinvention under Derrick James.

Joshua remained undefeated and consistently destructive under Sims until Rob McCracken succeeded him as his full-time trainer. The 33 year old then responded to the first of his defeats by Oleksandr Usyk by replacing McCracken with Robert Garcia, and the second by choosing to train under James in the US.

Early in 2023 he will potentially fight Deontay Wilder, who partly as a consequence of stopping Helenius inside one is still widely recognised as the most dangerous heavyweight in the world. 

After watching Joshua’s evolution Sims is wary that he has learned to overcomplicate the process of fighting, and hopes that the stoppage of Helenius convinces him to trust in the power he has in both hands.

“He was a little bit cautious,” the respected Sims told ProBox TV. “When you get to know Joshua, he’s one of them people where everything has to be perfect in his life – everything he does he’s looking for perfection. As we know as human beings, perfection’s never there, is it? 

“There’s nothing ever perfect. He tries too hard to perfect what he’s learned – he’s overthinking everything. 

“He never knew a lot in his younger days – he just used to go in there and just wing away and blast ‘em out. Now he seems to know a lot – what he’s trying to do – and I think he probably overthinks it all. But the knockout was good.

“Joshua’s better when he lets his hands go. One-two-three – go in and wing away. One thing he can do is proper hit with either hand. The more clusters he used to throw the more chance he had of connecting with one. That’s why he was so dangerous.”

Wilder will likely be considered the favourite over the former IBF, WBA and WBO champion, but Sims believes that Joshua retains the abilities to record what, after that over Wladimir Klitschko, would represent his finest win.

“He didn’t know a lot in the old days – he weren’t a boxing historian like he is now,” Sims continued. “I remember him first coming down the gym and I was talking to him about Ezzard Charles and ‘Jersey’ Joe Walcott. 

“He went to me, ‘I’ve never heard of them’, and I went, ‘Mate, listen, do yourself a favour and go home and start watching ex-fighters from the days of old’. You need to learn about what you’re getting yourself in for.

“But if you listen to him talk now he’s like a boxing historian. He’s studied everyone and watched everyone, and he really wants to learn. It’s hampering him a little bit. 

“Hopefully he gets into the big fight with Wilder and puts it all together; puts it all into practice. Maybe he will once he’s under pressure.”