Before Anthony Joshua’s fight with Otto Wallin in December, it wasn’t exactly clear which direction the Brit’s career was going.
In his four previous fights, Joshua had worked with three different trainers and didn’t look entirely convincing with any of them in his corner.
Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken was fired after his first loss to Oleksandr Usyk, and Robert Garcia was unable to change the result in the rematch. Another American, Derrick James, entered, but Joshua only worked to beat fringe contenders Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius.
When the two-time heavyweight champion announced that he would try another trainer to face Wallin, he seemed to lack clarity on how he wanted to approach his issues.
But Joshua proved the skeptics wrong. With the highly rated Ben Davison in his corner, AJ returned to his brutal best as he floored his opponent and forced the Swede’s corner to throw in the towel after five rounds.
Anthony Joshua teamed up with Ben Davison (left) for his final fight against Otto Wallin
Joshua produced his best performance in years by stopping Wallin after five rounds.
Davison will be in Joshua’s corner again when he fights Francis Ngannou next week.
It was undoubtedly Joshua’s best performance in years, and Davison earned plenty of praise for his work in the corners.
He will be at Joshua’s side again when the Olympic gold medalist takes on Francis Ngannou in a big crossover fight in Saudi Arabia next Friday, with fans eager to see if Joshua can continue his resurgence.
Davison’s track record suggests there is every chance Joshua will shine once again.
Interestingly, his rise to prominence began with Joshua’s heavyweight rival Tyson Fury.
That’s right, Davison was with Fury every step of the way when he returned to the ring in 2018 after a three-year absence that saw him gain weight and deal with mental health issues.
Few gave Fury the chance to be the fighter he once was, but Davison brought him back to top condition and came up with the game plan that earned Gypsy King a draw in his first meeting with Deontay Wilder in December 2018.
Many observers felt Fury did enough to win that fight, which saw him somehow get up off the canvas after a heavy knockdown in the final round.
Davison previously trained Tyson Fury when he returned to the ring in 2018.
Few expected Fury to come back the same, but Davison got Gypsy King back to top condition.
Fury and Davison would work together for two more fights later, but their relationship ended when Fury put on a below-average display during a points victory against Wallin.
Fury has since beaten Wilder twice and is just weeks away from facing Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight crown, but Davison’s role in helping him bounce back should not be underestimated.
Davison hasn’t rested on his laurels either. He has taken Leigh Wood from a domestic featherweight prospect to world honours, with the Nottingham-based boxer scoring high-profile wins against Michael Conlan, Mauricio Lara and Josh Warrington.
He has also trained former world champions Billy Joe Saunders and Josh Taylor, and was recruited to be part of American pound-for-pound star Devin Haney’s team for his super lightweight fight against Regis Prograis in December. Haney proceeded to dominate the contest, taking down his opponent en route to a lopsided points victory.
Davison has always brought out the best in his pupils and the first signs with Joshua have been very positive.
Davison has taken Leigh Wood (pictured) from national wrestler to world champion.
Davison also worked with former world champion Billy Joe Saunders.
He was also in the corner of former undisputed super lightweight champion Josh Taylor (right)
Having looked cautious and heavy going into the Wallin fight, Joshua looked reinvigorated in his last outing, dominating from start to finish.
That performance indicated that he has now closed the gap on Fury and Usyk, and with Davison in his corner he has reason to be optimistic that he can come up with a game plan to topple Fury in the future.
Joshua and Fury have stated that they want to fight each other, and it seems like the obvious matchup if they can beat Ngannou and Usyk, respectively.
Fury would probably come in as the favorite, but it would be foolish to rule out Joshua, especially with Davison’s inside knowledge.
Davison knows all of Fury’s strengths and weaknesses from watching him train daily, and could pass on this knowledge.
Whether this would be enough for Joshua to overcome Fury remains to be seen, but he couldn’t have a better man to turn to for advice on how to beat the towering, undefeated heavyweight.
But first, Joshua must get past Ngannou, and that won’t be an easy task. The former UFC champion nearly caused one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he floored Fury before losing a narrow decision just four months ago.
Ngannou knocked down Fury in their fight last year and will not be an easy opponent for Joshua.
A win for Joshua would bring him one step closer to a meeting with Fury, and he couldn’t ask for a better man in the corner than Davison to take down the Gypsy King.
The Cameroon-born star will be riding a wave after that performance and truly believes he is going to beat Joshua.
If Joshua bypasses Ngannou due to a potential Fury clash on the horizon, he could come unstuck.
However, Davison is unlikely to allow that to happen and will make it his mission to ensure Joshua is meticulously prepared.
That should be enough for Joshua to get a win, and then he and Davison can set their sights firmly on Fury.