Wladimir Klitschko was knocked out by Anthony Joshua three years ago after ignoring his trainer’s advice and following his brother’s orders.
In April, 2017, Joshua brilliantly came from behind to win the world heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium but there is still regret in the voices of Klitschko’s corner-men that they didn’t take advantage when in the ascendancy.
Joshua had scored the fight’s first knockdown in the fifth round but Klitschko recovered quickly. In the sixth Klitschko landed a thunderbolt of a right hand which sent Joshua to the canvas for the first time in his career. When Joshua rose, he was shaky and saved by the bell.
“I said: ‘Wladimir, you’ve got to finish this guy,’” Klitschko’s head trainer Johnathon Banks exclusively told Sky Sports.
“‘No more boxing. Go get him! He’s still hurt. You’ve got to finish him!’
“I believe he agreed but he didn’t see what I saw. He saw someone still able to let their hands go.”
As Banks spoke to his man, Klitschko’s older brother Vitali, also a decorated fighter, began speaking to him in their native tongue.
Vitali told Wladimir not to rush anything, believing that the muscled-up Brit would begin to tire later in the fight and slow down.
“I understood Vitali say that in Russian. I jumped up! The security guards told me to sit down but I was shouting: ‘Finish him, finish him!’,” Banks said. “I knew Vitali’s voice would reign supreme over mine. I tried my best to override.”
Klitschko had Joshua right where he wanted him in round six. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Sure enough, Klitschko didn’t pull the trigger. Joshua bravely recovered and pulled off a spectacular comeback stoppage in the 11th round.
“If Wladimir had five per cent more energy he would have finished the fight,” cut-man Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran said. “Joshua was one shot away from being knocked out.”
Banks has never questioned his instructions being overruled by Vitali: “No, it makes no sense to bring it up. I’ve got brothers too and we’re very close. If someone questions my brother, my initial thought is to defend my brother. I accept it and we move on.
“You’ve got to understand that to Vitali, it wasn’t a mistake. His job is to protect his little brother. His emotion clouded the business.
“A lot of fathers who are trainers for their sons either stop the fight too early or too late.
“Someone unrelated? My job is also to protect but the emotion is different.”
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Wladimir Klitschko, once the world heavyweight champion for nearly a decade, retired after his stunning efforts at Wembley helped to catapult Joshua onto a higher level. Banks has no regrets.
“If I were in Joe Frazier’s corner for the Thrilla in Manila would I be upset that we lost? Or enthused to be a part of such a historic event?” Banks said.
“I loved how Wladimir fought. He performed better in that fight than most people thought he had in his entire career.
“A lot of questions from his reign on top were only answered in that fight. He answered questions from critics dating back to 2004.
“Like The Gladiator move – you win the crowd, you win your freedom. Wladimir’s lock and key was that he never went through (difficulty). If you knocked him down, it was over – that was his chain.
“But he answered that question and gained his freedom. We lost the fight but, I believe, we won the war.”
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission
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