Sean Murphy has been with Anthony Joshua since the very beginning.
Joshua’s first coach at Finchley Boxing Club all those years ago, Murphy saw something in the youngster few others did at the time.
He’s someone that knows Joshua, the fighter, inside out and has a pretty good idea of Joshua, the man, too. Ahead of AJ’s big fight with Joseph Parker, Murphy spoke exclusively to loaded about those early beginnings, Joshua’s greatest strengths, a move into UFC and a fight with Tyson Fury.
loaded: What were your first impressions of Joshua as a youngster?
Sean: When he first started coming down the gym he was a bit hyperactive and always had a smile on his face. He started out a lot skinnier too. More athletic looking, like a basketball player. But what separated him out from the rest was this desire to learn and develop. It meant we had something we could work with.
loaded: Could you have ever predicted how far he would get in the sport?
Sean: After working with him for about a month, I realised he had huge potential. We put him in for a fight pretty quickly after that. I remember when we did that a few other trainers were doubtful. They soon changed their minds after watching him though.
loaded: What do you think has been the secret to Anthony’s success?
Sean: It’s just hard work. He was so focused even back them. If you showed him how to do something, he wouldn’t be happy until he perfected it. He was always asking questions too. It could get a bit annoying but in a good way.
loaded: What would you say are his greatest strengths as a fighter?
Sean: He’s got a big heart and he’ll never give in. You can have all the technical ability in the world but if you haven’t got that bravery and that desire to achieve what you want to achieve it can be tough.
Anthony has got that. He’s never turned down a fight. There were a couple of fights I remember where he was proper ill with flu or something and he wouldn’t tell me until after the fight. He would never say no. He saw it as a sign of weakness.
loaded: Joshua seems like a very humble guy. Is that a fair assessment?
Sean: When Anthony comes in our gym, some people get a bit starry-eyed but most people treat him like normal and let him get on with it. He’s one of our boxers and that’s why he likes coming to the gym because he’s treated like one of the boys. He has a laugh with them. It’s great.
loaded: Do you think the positive impact of boxing on young men gets overlooked?
Sean: It’s not just young lads that fight, it’s young women too. Look, it’s an outlet. A way of releasing anger where you’re not harming anyone. That role does get overlooked. It gives youngsters structure and teaches them about discipline and respect. That doesn’t get talked about enough.
There’s talk of Anthony Joshua moving into UFC – do you think that would be a good move?
Personally no. It’s a different game. With his mentality he’d give it a good go but I’m not sure it would suit him. It’s the grappling and ground game I would worry about. He might be alright but there are a few boxers who have done it and not fared well.
loaded: How can Anthony beat Joseph Parker?
Sean: Just box him. Keep it long, keep him at the end of his arms. He’s bigger than Parker so if he keeps it long and paces himself he can do it. He might even knock him out late in the fight. He’s just got to stay disciplined.
loaded: Who would you like to see him fight next? Deontay Wilder?
Sean: There are more options for Josh than just fighting Wilder. A fight against either David Haye or Tyson Fury would be great. Wilder can wait until 2019. Fury could go either way. I’m not sure he can get back to the fighter that he was but if he can, it would be a great spectacle.
William Hill enlisted the help of Sean Murphy, AJ’s first coach, to see if brand ambassador Robbie Savage could pack a punch ahead of Joshua’s fight against Joseph Parker on Saturday 31 March.
William Hill won’t be beaten on round betting and you can back Joshua to win in the third round at 10/1. For all the best prices head to williamhill.com. Odds subject to change.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.