Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko: Ukrainian's trainer 'knew' he would lose to Tyson Fury

Declan Taylor
The Independent
Wladimir Klitschko's 11-year unbeaten run was ended by Tyson Fury in November 2015: Getty
Wladimir Klitschko's 11-year unbeaten run was ended by Tyson Fury in November 2015: Getty

The fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury was still two days away when the Ukrainian champion's trainer, Johnathon Banks, knew for sure that an upset which would send shockwaves through boxing was coming.

“I got the feeling on the Thursday of fight week,” Banks revealed for the first time. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t describe it.

“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' startling admission comes as Klitschko, 41, prepares to face Anthony Joshua for his IBF title and the vacant WBA strap at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Klitschko, whose 11-year unbeaten run was broken by Fury in Dusseldorf in November 2015, now says he is obsessed with reclaiming the title and proving that his time at the pinnacle of the sport is not over.

Fury that night outfoxed the 1996 Olympic champion, who failed to land his trademark straight right hand in a worryingly gun-shy display at Dusseldorf's Esprit Arena.

The inquest into the performance continues to rumble on as Klitschko fights for the first time since the defeat, with another undefeated Englishman standing in his way.

Banks, who was not immune to criticism for his performance in the corner during the fight, has simply put the defeat down to an 'off night', which he saw coming during fight week in Germany.

In fact, the American trainer, who is seven years his boxer's junior, says he has a sixth sense passed down to him from the late, great Emanuel Steward, Klitschko's former trainer.

“Manny couldn’t describe it to me,” said Banks, who was like Steward's adopted son while he was alive. “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 it.

“But I knew it right away. 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 Tommy not to fight Iran Barkley because he knew Barkley was going to beat him. Then when Lennox Lewis was going to South Africa to fight Hasim Rahman, the feeling came again. He just knew it.”

Banks simply knew that it was not his fighter's night (Getty)
Banks simply knew that it was not his fighter's night (Getty)

Banks insists he has addressed whatever it was that prevented Klitschko from throwing his right hand in the face of Fury, who produced one of the finest victories in British boxing history that night.

However, as fight week here in London ramps up with the public workouts on Wednesday, Banks is unable to guarantee that another 'off night' can be avoided.

He added: “There’s nothing you can do to change that. If you have to go to the bathroom, however much I talk to you, if you ain’t gotta go you ain’t gotta go. If it’s not in you, it’s not in you.

“You can get the best basketball player in the world but if he’s having an off shooting night there’s nothing he can do about it.

“It’s like do you believe you can talk to the Queen? You might believe you can talk to her but then you get so nervous nothing comes out. You know you can do it but it just so happens that day you freeze.

“You rehearse so much but then you forget. It happens in life. It happened and he had to take it as his motivation to come back better.”

Klitschko was desperate to secure a rematch against Fury in order to exorcise the demons which arose from the only points defeat of his 21-year professional career to date.

But Fury's exile from the ring has meant that the all-time great from Kiev has had to take another route to his third world title and Banks says it is crucial that the fighter accepts that.

“The hardest part about losing a fight is accepting it mentally,” Banks said. “People can either boo you or cheer you. That’s the only two choices they have.

“They can’t string you up no more. No more pitchforks, no more stabbings. If you lose they boo. It’s the only choice you got. The hardest part about losing is accepting the hit and getting over it.

“Getting over anything is the hardest thing to do in life. You could tell a woman a lie two years ago and get into an argument and she says ‘you lied to me’.

“The hardest thing is putting it behind you but it’s the best feeling once you do get over it.”

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