SORRY Rocky, pre-dawn starts are a thing of the past.
World heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua has just completed the hardest training camp of his life ahead of this Sunday’s title defence against Alexander Povetkin — and is reaping the benefit of one key change: sleep-ins.
Like most boxers, Joshua had been rising with the roosters to get early morning cardio sessions complete so he had time to rest before his main workout of the day.
But during a visit to the Under Armour research lab in Baltimore in May, Joshua was told he was wasting energy with his old school approach.
The 28-year-old often speaks about staying at the top of the boxing world for a decade, so he’s making changes to ensure that happens.
“Cristiano Ronaldo did a body test recently and he is 33 but has the body of a 21-year-old. You have to preserve your body,” Joshua said during an open workout this week.
“We have been looking at stuff like sleeping, the amount of time we spend on our phones, what pressure you put on your eyes — your eyes have muscles. It is about wellness and how you’re feeling, knowing to ease it off before you crash.”
Joshua first triggered there might be a better way while watching a documentary about Manny Pacquiao.
“The sleeping is interesting,” he said. “In the past you used to train, go do your work, then train after, so you had to wake up at 5am to be done at 7am. Luckily we are in a position that this is our full-time job but it’s a bit weird because boxing is old school.
“When I watched a Manny Pacquiao documentary he gets up when he’s ready. Floyd Mayweather trains when he is ready. I actually saw 10.34am on a clock when he (Pacquiao) was waking up and I was like, ‘What the f***? 10.34am and I’m here getting up at the crack of dawn?’
“I tried it and feel much better — 8am is my natural time to wake up. It looks lazy but you’re still getting the same amount of work done and in a better way.”
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Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said “for a British fighter, Anthony is by far the most advanced in terms of training facilities or what he does”.
That includes working on his reflexes in an altitude mask (see video above).
“His drive now is purely the challenge to improve himself, and there are more people working with him in new areas. Early-morning runs have gone. Joshua sleeps until he wakes,” Hearn said.
“He is obsessed with improvements. He has brought all these people into camp. The only thing that is on his mind is performance and improving. Not cars, not women, not jewellery, just improving. He won’t do anything that affects his ability to prepare.
“He knows when he has to eat, he knows when he has to sleep and nothing will get in the way of that.”
While he has access to first-class facilities, Joshua still likes to go old school at times — like this insane neck-strengthening exercise.
He’s also putting in the rounds in the ring. “I’ve done hundreds of rounds of sparring, thrown thousands of punches and had thousands of punches thrown back at me,” Joshua said.
“This is the business end now so I’m locked in.”
“We’ve brought sparring in for this camp who have really stuck it on him — but that means he’s ready,” added Hearn.
“No camp is ever easy when you’re (115kg) and sparring 12 or 15 rounds at a time. But based on what I’ve seen — this is the hardest camp of his career.”