McCracken hails AJ focus

24 October 2017 10:53:47 EST

Anthony Joshua's increased "respect" for boxing has improved his preparation for Saturday's fight against Carlos Takam, according to Rob McCracken.

The 28-year-old returns to the ring in Cardiff to defend his WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles in his first fight since defeating Wladimir Klitschko in March.

AJ spent the majority of his camp training to take on mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev but an injury to the Bulgarian saw Takam parachuted in as a late replacement.

The 36-year-old is in a different mould to Pulev, with his smaller stature allowing him to get inside opponents and attack them with his powerful left hook.

Joshua could have been put off by the change of opponent but his trainer McCracken does not expect any such problems due to the manner in which he now prepares for fights.

Whereas previously, such as in the aftermath of his win over Eric Molina he took time off, this time around he has been keeping himself in better shape between fights.

McCracken says the 28-year-old has learned how tough boxing is and believes it has made him stronger heading into Saturday's bout.

"He respects professional boxing even more now," McCracken told BBC Radio 5 live's boxing podcast. "He did before the Klitschko fight but even more now. He knows how tough and dangerous it is at the top level.

"He has ticked over in between the fights, going for runs or coming in the gym.

"He didn't do that after defending his title against Molina. So he's showed he learned a lesson and showed he is deadly serious about improving, even though he has the heavyweight championship."

Joshua is 1/50 to win on Saturday and 1/18 to win by KO, TKO or Disqualification.

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