Posts Tagged ‘johnathon banks’

The story below is my original work published through bleacherreport.com

Wladimir Klitschko fought his first professional boxing match in over eight years without his hall of fame trainer, the late Emanuel Steward, when he defeated Poland’s Mariusz Wach on Saturday. While the outcome of the fight was almost a foregone conclusion to many, how Klitschko would perform without Steward interested me. Enter Johnathon Banks.

Banks himself is a professional boxer, fighting in the heavyweight division, who was trained by Steward. Following Steward’s passing, Banks stepped into his old mentor’s shoes on Klitshcko’s behalf in taking on the role of trainer, all this while preparing for his own fight on November 17th against undefeated heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell.

I was interested to see if Banks was merely “filling a role” for Klitschko’s fight with Wach, or if he was actually going to be a hands on trainer during the bout.

When a Klitschko brother fights, the other brother is usually close at hand and often performing a job in the corner. Knowing this, I wondered if Vitali would take the role of the main communicator between rounds while Banks was just an additional pair of eyes.

I watched the bout live through EpixHD, through which the lack of commercials between rounds allowed me to see the dynamics in the corner. I was happy to see that the man who had stepped up and assumed the trainer role for the fight was allowed to do just that–train.

Vitali stayed mostly as a background figure, assisting where needed and holding the bucket. Banks broke down the round as he saw it, and gave a great breakdown of how the fight was going and what he wanted to see moving forward. Vitali occasionally echoed Banks’ instructions, always in English, and both brothers appeared to respect what Banks was saying.

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Wladimir followed the rookie trainer’s instructions well. If Banks said to jab more, Wladimir jabbed more. When Banks wanted him to bring the right hand into play more frequently to follow the jab, there were more right hands.

Banks had obviously spent his time under Steward paying attention to more than just the instruction he was being given for his own fights. He astutely instructed Wladimir on the best approach round-to-round and when it was time to start mixing things up in order to keep Wach on his toes.

Even more impressive was the manner in which Banks was able to keep the corner calm at the end of Round 5, a round that ended with Wach catching Klitschko with a strong right hand and then pushing forward and looking to do more damage.

In the corner, Banks kept things calm, talking to Wladimir about staying on task, keeping the jab going and keeping the pace under his control. For a novice trainer to keep everyone—including himself—grounded and level headed after seeing his fighter eat a big right hand was a good thing to see.

To all appearances, it seems as though Klitschko intends to keep Banks on full-time and after working well together in the build up to Saturday’s bout—and again during the fight—it seems to me like a wise choice.

Another boxing story. Again an original piece by me and once again published through bleacherreport.com

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Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Let’s face facts first, I don’t think there is a single boxing fan who didn’t predict a dominant victory tonight from Wladimir Klitschko over the previously undefeated Mariusz Wach.

However, there were a couple of unexpected events in this bout. First, there was the chin displayed by Wach, who weathered a 12-round beating at the hands of Klitschko and didn’t even look close to landing on the seat of his pants.

Second, there was the fight Klitschko fought. We’ve all gotten used to the safely-does-it approach we’ve seen from Klitschko over the last few years, but tonight, he attacked throughout and entertained.

Did the level of opponent allow Klitschko to deliver a different type of fight as normal? Probably. However, I enjoyed the display and was surprised that Wach stayed on his feet.

From the opening bell, Klitschko came forward. His jab, as usual, was dominant throughout the bout as he landed it seemingly at will. What was different was the come-forward manner Klitscko displayed, the fact that he started letting his right hand go earlier than usual and the three- and four-punch combinations he threw throughout the bout.

Klitschko peppered his opponent with his usually jab-straight combination throughout the first four rounds while adding frequent left hooks, some as leadoff hooks and some at the end of the one-two that were landing so well.

Wach, to his credit, weathered everything Klitschko had to throw, and until the very end of the fifth round, didn’t seemed phased. At the end of Round 5, Klitschko caught Wach with a big right hand that visibly shook his opponent, who seemed relieved when the bell sounded.

Hi-res-117620253_crop_exact Scott Heavey/Getty Images

The big round of the bout came in Round 8 as Klitschko obviously upped the pace in search of a knockout. Leading in with flurries of punches we are not accustomed to seeing Klitschko throw, he took the fight to Wach to the glee of the fans.

Still, Wach stayed on his feet. There were moments in the eighth in which some refs would have stopped the fight, but it was allowed to continue—and rightly so. Wach ate a lot of punches but rarely looked stunned or in serious trouble, managingd to fire back with occasional shots.

Wach did have his moment in an otherwise one-sided fight. At the end of Round 6, Wach connected with a good right hand that backed Klitschko onto the ropes. For the final 30 seconds of the round, Wach attacked. It was a sight the crowd had not seen before in the bout and one they would not see again.

As Wach unloaded, Klitschko ducked, bobbed and kept his gloves in front of his face. The first right hand aside, nothing in Wach’s attack landed cleanly, and the door was closed on his chance in the fight as quickly as it opened.

The remainder of the bout continued with Klitschko attacking, landing jabs, crosses and hooks, and Wach, somehow, managing to stay on his feet. The judges’ decision was just a formality as Klitschko, once again, dominated his opponent to successfully defend his heavyweight titles.

I am sure we will here the usual complaints about the level of competition Wladimir is facing, and we will read articles about how overrated he is. I, however, enjoy watching Klitschko fight and was thrilled to see an aggressive, come-forward Klitschko provide an entertaining fight in honor of his late trainer Emanuel Steward.