April 25, 2017
April 25, 2017
Klitschko

Action Images/Reuters/Ralph Orlowsk

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WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO’S trainer Johnathon Banks has revealed he realised they would lose to Tyson Fury three days before their fight.

Fury’s November 2015 defeat of the then-IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion was Klitschko’s first in 11 years, and remains one of the finest ever victories by any British fighter.

Klitschko returns to the ring against Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, when he hopes to become a three-time world champion by again winning the IBF and WBA titles.

Both he and Banks insist defeat was the consequence of the 41-year-old experiencing an “off-night”, but while it was so unexpected by almost everyone else, the respected trainer says he knew what was coming.

Banks succeeded his mentor – the late, great Manny Steward – as Klitschko’s trainer and before the fight with Fury had led him to a series of one-sided wins. On Saturday at Wembley they hope to revive the Ukrainian’s career, and this time the American is expecting to win.

“I got it on the Thursday [before the Fury fight],” said Banks, 34. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t describe it. Manny couldn’t describe it to me. Not until you’re in tune with your fighter will you know.

“Of course, you can’t say anything to Wladimir. You can’t walk to the ring with your head down and sad. You can’t say ‘Forget it’. You have to go through with it and see what comes out. Maybe he can do something to offset [defeat].

Klitschko

“I knew right away [what was wrong with Klitschko that night]. Manny told me one thing, ‘Before every fight I see the outcome a day or two before’. When Tommy [Hearns] was going up against [Marvin] Hagler he knew it. It hit him in the locker room.

“He knew he was going to lose the fight. He couldn’t tell him that. He told him not to fight Iran Barkley because he knew Barkley was going to beat him. When Lennox [Lewis] was going to South Africa to fight [Hasim] Rahman, the feeling came again. He just knew [Lewis would lose].

“You can’t say when the feeling comes, but when it hit me about Fury and Wladimir I had it in my head the whole time. I just thought ‘Damn’. I had a feeling before the fight it wasn’t going to be our night.”

Banks was then asked if he had ever previously expected defeat and been wrong, and he responded: “As of now, never. Even with myself.

“I walked to the ring and my brother looked at me, and when I fought Tomasz Adamek I knew for a sure thing, on the Tuesday before the fight I said ‘I’m not going to win this fight, damn’.

“I was 19 and 0 and I wanted to go 20, but what could I do, go out and take it easy? No, I had to go through with it.”

The 27-year-old Joshua’s status as favourite for Saturday’s fight owes largely to the belief Klitschko’s defeat to Fury came because he is in decline and that he will struggle to resist the younger fighter’s power and athleticism. Banks, however, warned: “That’s the same thing Michael Moorer thought when he fought [and lost to the ageing] George Foreman.

“He thought the same thing George Foreman thought when he fought [and lost to] Muhammad Ali in Zaire. George took what Ali did to him and did the exact same thing to Michael Moorer.

“There’s something about when an old man don’t back down from a fight, you better pay attention to the older guy. There’s something he knows that the young guy don’t know. I believe Wladimir beat the guy.

“He’s been different ever since [losing to Fury]; once he saw what he saw in the 12th round. He’s been obsessed ever since.”