Exclusive Interview With Johnathon Banks - "I Have A Wonderful Feeling In The Ring Now"
by James Slater - 27-year-old Detroit fighter Johnathon Banks, now well into his campaign as a heavyweight, having moved up from 200-pounds last June, scored his most important heavyweight victory this past Saturday; as he sensationally TKO'd the dangerous Travis Walker in Germany.
Fighting once again on a Klitschko under-card (Banks has also sparred countless rounds with both Wladimir and Vitali in training camps), Banks improved his overall record to 24-1(17), while as a heavyweight Banks is now 4-0(3).
Very kindly taking the time to talk to me about his 6th-round stoppage win over the man known as "Freight Train" earlier today, the always accommodating Banks had the following answers to my questions:
James Slater: How are you, Champ? It's always a pleasure to be able to speak with you.
Johnathon Banks: Oh, the pleasure's mine; it's always good to speak with Eastside Boxing.
J.S: Well, congratulations on your KO win over Travis Walker on Saturday. That was an impressive win; do you think it is your most impressive yet as a heavyweight?
J.B: Thank you. Definitely (laughs). I'd say that was one of my most impressive wins against a high calibre opponent.
J.S: It looked to me as though you were just so much faster than Walker - did you feel, during the fight, when you were actually in there, that you'd get the stoppage?
J.B: Yes, for sure. In training camp, he [Walker] was saying, "freight Train!" as though he was going to run over me. See, I believe he really felt he'd be too big and too strong for me. He thought I was too small and that I'd be unable to hurt him - I believe that's what he thought coming in. I said to my trainer, I'm gonna get the KO. I said I HAD to get the KO to make a statement. During the fight, my trainer told me to box, and I said, no, I want the KO. But he kept drilling it in to me to box, that's what boxers do. And Travis paced himself well, he surprised me; I thought he'd come out fast and winging punches at me.
J.S: The ending was quite spectacular. It was hard to see until the replay - you hit him with that right hand to the temple area but then lost your footing and slipped over. Then Walker went down and it looked to me like he'd slipped too! But his legs had in fact gone. Did you know you'd hurt him bad when you were down from the slip?
J.B: I knew I'd hurt him. I actually said to myself as I was down, shoot! Because I saw in my peripheral vision that he was hurt and I wanted to get back up as soon as I could and finish him.
J.S: It was a fine finish from you, and just to let you know, the fight is up on You Tube and it's had something like 45,000 hits!
J.B: Wow, I'll check that out!
J.S: You must have been very happy with the KO then, of course?
J.B: That's what I wanted, to prove my power. I've always been able to punch, at cruiserweight and now as a heavyweight. I feel that anyone I catch on the chin, I can KO - or at least hurt them. I have to be respected as a puncher in this division.
J.S: No doubt. We knew you had the speed and now we know you have the one-punch power. You also won the NABF belt with the victory, will you look to defend that belt? Is there any idea when you will box again? I know it's soon after the win.
J.B: Right now, we may look at defending the NABF belt, but the NABF want you to make a defence right away, and not take your time. I may be fighting on the May 29th Vitali Klitschko card (Vs. Albert Sosnowski) but that's not a definite yet. It is too early to talk any names, but we'll look at whether or not it makes sense to box on the May card in Germany.
J.S: Are there any names in general out there that you'd like to fight one day though? Is there anyone you have your eye on?
J.B: No, not really, believe it or not. I don't go for names, I want to go for belts! I want to be the heavyweight champion of the world, so if I can get myself in a position to be able to become the number-one contender, I'll go for one of the belts. It could be a matter of who retires first [between Wladimir and Vitali] as to which champion I will fight.
J.S: 224, the weight you came in at once again, looks to be a good weight for you. Do you feel that is your ideal weight now?
J.B: Yeah, 224. I never tried to get bigger, my body was just growing [from cruiser to heavy]. I stay in good condition. The only thing I've changed in training is my diet, everything else is the same.
J.S: Did you get a chance to watch the Klitschko-Chambers fight on Saturday?
J.B: I was right in the front row. It was a spectacular finish to the fight, but Eddie didn't do what I felt he would. I thought he'd show more; I thought he'd fight more. But with him not fighting, that kind of threw everything off for Wladimir. In camp, his game-plan was to catch the guy as he came in, but Eddie never came in so Wladimir had to be more aggressive. It was not a hard fight, but it was hard for Wladimir in having to be chasing the guy.
J.S: You've kept your word and have remained active - with a fight every three months since last June - and you're now 4-0(3) as a heavyweight. Do you feel you are at your peak now at age 27?
J.B: I feel like I'm reaching my peak. I have a wonderful feeling in the ring now; which I never had as a cruiserweight. I believe a 100-percent healthy Johnathon Banks will always be an undefeated Johnathon Banks. The world will really start to see my craft, and see why I'm here. As a heavyweight, they will see punching power, they will see speed and they will see heart.
J.S: Well, it's always great to speak with you, Johnathon. It's a privilege to be able to speak with a fighter after having watched his actual fight. We look forward to your next fight.
J.B: Okay, thank you. Any time Eastside Boxing wants to talk, it's no problem.
Article posted on 26.03.2010