Saturday, June 22, 2024  |



Trainer Banks and fighter Golovkin still like each other after extended camp

Gennadiy Golovkin (left) and trainer Johnathon Banks. Photo credit: DAZN/ GGG Promotions
Fighters Network

It’s been a year since you’ve seen Gennadiy Golovkin, but the same can’t be said for his trainer, Johnathon Banks.

The Michigan native, a former fighter himself, spoke to RING and I wanted to get a sense from him where GGG is at, being that he’s 38, turns 39 in April, and he didn’t get As across the board in his last outing.

On Dec. 18, 2019, Golovkin (40-1-1), the fighting pride of Kazahkstan, still, until some younger gun elevates themselves and then is able to maintain a certain level of superiority for a lengthy spell, took on Sergey Derevyanchenko.

It was a nip and tuck affair, it went twelve rounds, and there was drama as we awaited the reading of the scorecards. GGG won, but whispers were resulting: How much does this guy who debuted as a pro in 2006 have left in the vocational tank?

Banks is here to say, based on the six months he’s spent in this mega-camp in Cali with GGG, that no one should be thinking that we are dealing with a last legs athlete here.

No, Banks said, ahead of the Friday clash against unheralded Kamil Szeremta, from Poland, Golovkin showed plenty in the last half year, and he will be enjoying plenty more success in squared circles.

“If there was a silver lining to be found in Gennadiy’s ring hiatus it was that he and I had a lot of time together, over six months, training and staying in condition,” Banks said. “This allowed us to get to know each other better and exchange ideas about boxing and even discuss life. There were days in Big Bear where we would take a hike or go for ice cream.”

They are in Florida now, counting down to the Friday night faceoff with a guy with no name, but some momentum. The 31 year old Pole has just 5 KOs, but of late he’s been sitting down on his shots, and has three stops in his last five outings. Banks sounded respectful of Szeremeta, as one probably should be with any pro at this level, but he didn’t even hint mildly that GGG arguably gray-beard status means that this is a coin-flip on paper. Maybe if GGG had bloated up to bridgerweight in between fights…

Banks, if you didn’t know, fought pro from 2004 to 2014, compiling a 29-3-1, having success as a cruiserweight and then heavyweight. (See below, Banks getting it done against Seth Mitchell.)

“The best thing about any training camp with Gennadiy is that he always comes into camp in good shape,” Banks said. “I think he weighed 168 when we opened this camp. It’s 100% training camp where with other fighters, you need to also have to dedicate time to losing a lot of weight.

Trainer Banks started working with GGG after the Kazahk’s second fight with Canelo Alvarez. He liked how they meshed before GGG stopped Steve Rolls in June 2019. And Banks knows that GGG had to summon from the hidden reservoir when he battled a mean bug during the week of the Derevyanchenko fight at Madison Square Garden.

The tutor, a Kronk grad, gave some insight into what he’d like to see from his client on Friday, on DAZN. “I loved watching Gennadiy fight as an amateur,” said the ex hitter, at 38 two months younger than GGG.

“He was a really good boxer with good movement. He had a beautiful rhythm boxing and punching. As his professional career evolved, he became known as a knockout artist, stalking his opponent and loading up for the knockout. Now don’t get me wrong, I love knockouts, but there is more than one way to get one. Gennadiy worked hard on combining boxing, punching, and rhythm in training camp, and he looks tremendous. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm — speed and power — that is what we worked on a lot in camp.”

And no, I haven’t seen much of Szeremeta. Not many in America have, being that he’s been toiling in Italy, France, Poland. (The Pole fought underneath GGG-Derevyanchenko, see below.) So what does Banks see in the Pole? “Szeremeta’s style reminds me a lot of Derevyanchenko,” said Banks, who also works with Badou Jack, and Jelena Mrdjenovich. “They are almost twins. Both like to fight close-in. While Derevyanchenko believed is was a puncher and had confidence in his power, Szeremeta moves around the ring more and seems busier.”

And no, he’s not thinking past the Pole and you shouldn’t either, I guess, because you see a fighter who isn’t on your radar with a low KO ratio. “Szeremeta is a dangerous fighter for several reasons,” Banks continued. “He’s getting better and stronger with each fight. He’s won three of his last five by knockout. He also has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He’s very busy in the ring. I expect him to come right at Gennadiy like Derevyanchenko did. Szeremeta is a good fighter, a pressure fighter, who I don’t think is on the same level as GGG. And the difference between this fight and the last one is he’s healthy!

And he expects his guy to handle that with aplomb. “He’s 38, and people ask if he will have rust. And you can say that guys slow down at 33, 34, but no. This isn’t the 80s, the 90s generation. At 38 you can be like 28, what with the technology, the organic foods. Now, you got a different type of energy at 38. People eat clean, and the aging doesn’t get to you as much. Times evolve, the sport evolves, the people in it…You can’t say now, at 35, 40, it’s time to retire.”

Also, he believes, there’s no letdown, there’s no hint of GGG not getting up as he would’ve ten years ago, because Szeremeta isn’t Canelo. “He’s wanting it so bad, it’s awesome.” Banks and GGG are on the same page, that being they respect Szeremeta, know that at this level, to get to this level, an unheralded man’s punch can be just as dangerous as a higher-profile opponent. “We’ve done everything we can do together, to get ready, and be successful.”

And they haven’t come to detest each other, despite spending so much time together, in that extenda-camp. “No, man, we’re peas in a pod. Mostly just us, and Ali the chef.”

During that time together, Banks said, GGG wasn’t laying out a list of guys he’s wanting to fight. We all know he’s made less than no secret about wanting to fight Canelo a third time. The red-head isn’t seeming to want to renew the “auld acquaintance,” so it may well be that after Szeremeta, GGG and company shift the focus to another target.

“There’s no To Do list, no names in mind,” Banks told me. “And me, I don’t care, you can line ’em up. He feels the exact same way. The more the merrier! He’s not sitting back. And that’s bad news for anybody who gets in the ring with him.”