Thursday, February 26, 2009

A View from the Corner

Andrzej Gmitruk, trainer of Poland's Tomasz Adamek, is looking forward to Friday's fight against Johnathon Banks in Newark, New Jersey.

He’s not a well-known name in the United States, but Andrzej Gmitruk, trainer of The Ring magazine and IBF Cruiserweight titlist Tomasz Adamek, is a big name in Polish boxing circles.

With the hard training all wrapped up, Gmitruk took a few minutes to tell what he thinks will happen Friday night when Adamek meets the undefeated Johnathon Banks at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Adamek is making the first defense of the 200-pound title that he won from Steve Cunningham in a thrilling fight back in December.

“Banks is a gifted fighter and he has a powerful punch,” says Gmitruk of the Emanuel Steward trained challenger. “From what we’ve studied, we see that he hits hard with both hands. I notice that when he punches his feet are wide apart, so we’re going to have to watch out for that early in the fight.”

With a record of 20-0 (14)KO, Banks is much less experienced than Adamek, who is a former WBC light heavyweight titlist with a record of 36-1 (24)KO. Gmitruk and Adamek are hoping to capitalize on the fact that Banks has been a professional less than five years, has only boxed 71 pro rounds and has never beaten a top-10 ranked contender.

“I don’t think Banks is as good as Steve Cunningham,” said Gmitruk. “Cunningham is a much busier fighter and I think he probably has much better stamina than Banks. But Tomasz and I have studied him quite a bit and together we’ve settled on a plan that will lead to victory. We studied his fight against Vincenzo Rositto and we were able to make a few pretty good observations about him and we see weaknesses in his game.”

Gmitruk and Adamek work the pads in anticipation that they will need to be sharp to turn back the challenge of Johnathon Banks.

As of last Friday, Gmitruk said Adamek weighed 205 pounds and that all aspects of his training and nutrition were closely monitored to bring him down to the 199 pounds he weighed in at on Thursday.

“He’s dynamic and fast and he’s looking very impressive right now. We sparred with three different sparring partners for a total of 10 rounds one day last week. These weren’t the greatest fighters mind you, but Tom was as strong in the ninth and tenth rounds as he was in the first. If Banks is still around on Friday night after ten rounds he won’t be able to keep up with Tom in the last couple of rounds. Right now, Tom is seeing everything. He’s blocking punches, his stamina is there and we’ve been concentrating on making him an even stronger fighter with specific strength exercises.”

Gmitruk claims that just in the couple of months since the thrilling fight against Cunningham that Adamek has improved.

“We only took about two or three weeks off after the fight against Cunningham and that was all we needed to regenerate,” said Gmitruk. “We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this fight, not as long as we did for Cunningham. But we didn’t need that much time because Tom’s fitness level was already there after all of the training we did for Cunningham. We started out training lightly and then really stepped it up before tapering off this week.”

Gmitruk also talked about the Emanuel Steward factor. The hall of fame trainer is in Banks’ corner and Gmitruk said that Steward can never be underestimated.

Adamek is known for always being in shape and for being able dish out the punishment as well as take it.

“I’ve known Emanuel for many years and I met him a long time ago in Norway. He is a man of the highest character, a great tactician and he’s a huge personality. It’s a big honor for me to go against him with him standing in the other corner. I think when we look over and see Steward in the corner that it will have a psychological effect on both of us. He’s an American boxing legend.”

Gmitruk, however, knows his man is going to win.

“No question about it. We’ve studied the American closely and we can counter everything he does. We’re going to take away his right hand and take away his speed early. We are intelligent and we are ready for whatever he can do.”

The oddsmakers agree with Gmitruk and have installed Adamek as the overwhelming favorite to retain his title, likely by stoppage.

February 2009

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