I WAS reading an article on the Old Bailey recently. For those who don’t know, the Old Bailey is the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, based in central London. It was established hundreds of years ago and has been relocated in various court rooms. It was rebuilt in 1674 after the Great Fire of London. It was rebuilt again in 1774.

At first, it was designed for the trial of Londoners but then an act was passed which enabled the court to accommodate non-Londoners. While developing an understanding of the changes that needed to be made to make it one of the most recognised and respected courts in the world, it made me reflect on the journey of a boxer.

The adjustments that must be made to their fighting strategy which allows them to remain relevant in the sport. I compared the way that boxers are scrutinised as if under trial in a court room. Anthony Joshua’s recent return to the competitive boxing ring against Jermaine Franklin is a perfect ‘case’ in point.

It was not a stadium fight but still attracted a healthy number of paying fans curious to see the return of the fighter to whom they have become so attached. Like the Old Bailey, Joshua was rebuilding, and he was going to be judged as if on trial in one of its court rooms. To maintain his position as a top tier heavyweight, he too was going to have to make changes to his whole set up.

Big decisions had to be made. And it’s that decision-making process that can keep boxers in the fight. Boxers must be able to make changes in the midst of combat, and long before the fight even begins.

Against Franklin, from watching his demeanour beforehand, and watching the fight itself, it didn’t appear that much had changed – at least on the surface. But so much has changed for Joshua in recent years.

Boxing has complexities that are not always obvious from mere observation from the outside. It is more than two combatants trading blows and so much is down to the boxer’s mindset. The consensus from social media was that Joshua under-performed but I prefer to look at it in a different way. What positives can we draw? What can be learned?

The promotion was billed as New Dawn following two consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk. First came the change of trainer, and the relocation to Dallas under the tutelage of Derrick James. It’s important to remember that a trainer, regardless of who they are, can only do so much. When it comes to a fighter’s armoury, the trainer makes up a small percentage with the fighter responsible for the rest. Like James, Robert Garcia before him was also a respected trainer but Garcia was unable to improve Joshua from a psychological standpoint. But then the opponent for their lone assignment together, Usyk, was a totally different – and difficult – conundrum.

After losing to Usyk for a second time, I believe Joshua made the right decision to start afresh again. In setting up camp in Texas there will have been significant adjustments made to embrace a new environment and culture. To the naked eye these changes might not seem that important, but I can assure you they will have been significant.

Joshua was away from his usual support network and those he’s been around for several years – like Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton – no longer there. I know from experience what it feels like to be in a totally different setting among relative strangers. I remember making those adjustments when I relocated to New York and adjusted to the American way of life. I was away from my family and the familiar setting of home. It’s a completely new and different experience.

We speak English on both sides of the Atlantic but, at first, my new gym mates didn’t understand me, and I didn’t understand them. The training and sparring sessions were intense, I felt the pressure to prove myself all over again, something that was different to what I experienced in England at the time. I eventually settled and enjoyed my training camps in America and, in time, I’m sure Joshua will too.

The bond between fighter and trainer is important. One good thing that I observed, was that Joshua appeared to respect James. He listened keenly and tried to execute what he was instructed to do. Given time, and the process has only just begun, I think that the changes that are being made have great potential.

Joshua has served his sport well and has been the face of British boxing since winning Olympic gold in 2012. That of course brings pressure. The commotion at the end of his last two ring appearances, when he grabbed the mic post-Usyk and barged into Franklin, were not well-received. However, both appeared to be more out of frustration on Joshua’s part and an annoyance with his performance. My query, though, is how much does he still really want it?

After all, the mindset of a young hungry combatant willing to take punches regardless of the cost is surely at odds with the boxer who has made millions and achieved their ambitions. Two completely different mindsets. Therefore, going back to basics can be a tough ask. The morning runs and daily gym grind do not get any easier or more appealing once you’ve lived at the top of the mountain.

My thoughts are that Joshua still has the power to cause opponents to change their fight plan. However, I don’t think Joshua has the confidence in himself at the moment and only hours of dedicated mental and physical training can help to restore his belief. He needs to relax and let his punches flow. The fact that he has moved his camp almost 5,000 miles away illustrates that, for now, he still has the desire.

Joshua should take comfort from returning to winning ways and shaking off that feeling of anxiety that always comes when you think of climbing into a ring again.

He has the physical ability and the power to get back to the top. It’s all down to his mindset. The chance to challenge for the heavyweight championship and rule the division again will be a big motivator. Joshua has been there before but this time, it will be harder to get there. New contenders will be driven, they will be younger, they will fancy the idea of facing Joshua and seeing what he’s got left.

It would be tempting to end this piece by saying the jury is still out, but, with Joshua’s comeback only at the very beginning, there’s no need to be calling for a final verdict just yet.