LAS VEGAS — The biggest secret in boxing seemed obvious when it was finally announced. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s new trainer will be Johnathon Banks, who once trained former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko after the death of Emanuel Steward.
Banks is a Steward protégé and has a history with Golovkin, who shared the same promoter and a number of training camps during Klitschko’s reign as heavyweight champion.
“I respect this guy,” Golovkin said of Banks while making the announcement during a Saturday morning press conference at the MGM Grand. “I hope for a long and big story.”
Golovkin (39-1-1, 34 KOs) faces top-10 contender Steve Rolls on June 8 in a non-title bout at Madison Square Garden. Golovkin said he and Banks have been working together for about two weeks. The former middleweight champion has been searching for a new trainer since an ugly split with his long-time coach Abel Sanchez last month.
Golovkin signed a six-fight $100 million deal with DAZN, the live streaming app, earlier this year, but couldn’t reach a financial agreement with Sanchez, who became bitter about the terms he was offered. Sanchez said his “dignity” wouldn’t allow him to be “screwed like that,” and called Golovkin “greedy, ungrateful and [having] no ethics, honor and integrity.”
Golovkin took the high road on Saturday, thanking Sanchez for his guidance but insisting it was time for a change.
“I respect Abel,” Golovkin said. “He taught me a lot. It was a good experience. But I want more. I want to learn again and again. I can’t stop, and the last couple of years I stopped improving. I need more experience.”
Banks, a former IBO cruiserweight champion and heavyweight contender, is a disciple of Steward and the legendary KRONK gym. Banks has relied heavily on Steward’s teachings since taking over as Klitschko’s trainer following Steward’s death in 2012. Banks had never taken a fighter to training camp, but patterned Steward’s emphasis on the fundamentals of boxing to help Klitschko make six successful title defenses and become the second-longest reigning heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.
“It’s a pleasure to work with the best middleweight in the world,” said Banks, who currently trains Cecilia Braekhus, considered by many the best pound-for-pound female fighter. “I see the hunger and the passion and he has a lot of everything else that goes along with it. I look forward to working with him.”
Golovkin is coming off the first loss of his career in September when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was awarded a majority decision. The two had fought to a draw a year earlier. Alvarez defended those middleweight titles Saturday night against Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn.
After Alvarez signed a $365 million deal with DAZN, Golovkin’s settled for $100 million and is trying not to feel screwed out of $200 million by the judges of his last fight with Alvarez.
“I’m still very happy to sign the biggest deal of my career,” Golovkin said, adding, “right now I have six fights and working with so many good people. Everything is new. Now I’m just focused on boxing and respecting my opponent.”
Golovkin didn’t interview any other trainer.
“He said let me go talk to Johnathon Banks and that was his short list,” Golovkin’s advisor Tom Loeffler said. “He made the decision to hire Johnathon before he even trained with him.”
Banks watched Golovkin’s two fights with Alvarez and wants him to be busier and not rely so much on a knockout. Golovkin was criticized for a lack of body punches in his second fight with Alvarez.
“What everyone noticed was the inactivity to him,” Banks said. “He wasn’t as active as most people normally see him. I see the talent in the guy, but I think he can be more active and throw more punches. One thing I can’t stand is walking in the ring with only one way to win.”