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Banks recalls Wladimir Klitschko letting Anthony Joshua off the hook

Anthony Joshua Wladimir Klitschko

By Tim Royner: Trainer Johnathon Banks was overruled in Wladimir Klitschko’s corner by his older brother Vitali Klitschko in his fight precisely three years ago on April 29 against Anthony Joshua. Wladimir (64-5, 53 KOs) had Joshua BADLY hurt after knocking him down in round six of their contest at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Banks then told Wladimir to “FINISH” the overmuscled and gassed out Joshua, but rather than following his instructions; he listened to what Vitali had told him about wanting him to box AJ. So instead of finishing off Joshua during the seventh, Wladimir chose to box him, and this eventually led to him coming back to win the fight by an 11th round knockout.

Ruiz didn’t let Joshua off the hook like Wladimir

Two years later, Andy Ruiz Jr. was in the same situation Wladimir was in after he dropped Joshua twice in round three. Rather than following Wladimir’s blueprint in how to lose to Joshua, Ruiz did what most fighters would do in continuing to pour it on the badly hurt Joshua.

In the 7th, Joshua quit on his feet by choosing not to follow the referee’s instructions when he told him to walk towards him.

“I said, ‘Wladimir, you’ve got to finish this guy,'” Banks said to Sky Sports Boxing, remembering the orders he told Wladimir after he had Joshua badly hurt in the sixth round. “‘No more boxing. Go get him! He’s still hurt. You’ve got to finish him!’

“I knew Vitali’s voice would reign supreme over mine. I tried my best to override,’ said Banks.

It’s unclear why Wladimir didn’t listen to what Banks was telling him to do. Was it because he was a relatively new trainer? Wladimir’s previous trainer Emanuel Steward passed away in 2012, leaving a vacuum that needed to be replaced.

Wladimir had never had issues with following what Steward had told him in between rounds, which is why he went through an eight-year period where he didn’t lose a fight.

Would Wladimir have ignored Steward?

It would have been interesting if Steward had been in Wladimir’s corner during the Joshua fight. Would Wladimir have ignored Steward when he told him to go for the knockout of Joshua? Steward was the type of trainer that would give Wladimir an earful when he wouldn’t fight aggressively, and this helped him improve under his Rutledge.

Banks couldn’t get through to Wladimir in the same way that Steward did when he needed his advice the most during the Joshua fight.

Banks had been trained by Steward for many years, so what he was telling Wladimir would have been the same thing that his legendary trainer would have.

It’s never a good idea to have family members inserting themselves in the equation during a fight, and giving their own coaching tips that run counter to what the trainer is telling them to do.

“When Wladimir almost knocked Joshua out, I gave him the wrong advice. I was positive that Joshua, with his huge muscle mass, would not be able to last [the distance].

“I advised Wladimir not to rush anything. And I had hoped that after the seventh, the eighth round,” said Vitali to Sky Sports. “Joshua would really slow down. Now I think that maybe it was a mistake, maybe it was necessary to finish him off sooner.”

Banks is now the trainer of IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin, and he’s been pushing him to throw more punches. Golovkin has failed to do that, though, and it’s unclear whether Banks is wasting his time with him as well.

Whether Golovkin is intentionally choosing not to do what Banks is telling him to do or a situation he physically can’t follow his instructions is unknown. If Golovkin is choosing not to follow Bank’s advice, then he’s not going to improve, and he’ll continue to struggle against elite-level opposition like Canelo Alvarez.


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