Promoter Tom Loeffler was in NYC for the final presser ahead of Saturday's clash pitting his guy, Gennady Golovkin, against Matthew Macklin. At the steakhouse Gallagher's, I asked Loeffler to weigh in on the performance last Saturday night at Barclays Center by his heavyweight, Johnathon Banks. I was there, and it wasn't stellar. The crowd in Brooklyn booed Banks and foe Seth Mitchell pretty viciously, for coasting during long stretches of the fight. I asked Loeffler what was up with Banks.
He said that while Team Banks didn't want to use it as an excuse, the boxer hurt both his hands, and that affected him mightily. "But it was an off night," he said. "And we have to give Seth credit."
Indeed, Mitchell (on right, vs. Banks, left, at Barclays) was coming off a TKO loss to Banks, back in November, so he did what he thought he needed to do to 1) stay off his back and 2) win. No, it didn't make for a fan-friendly show, and his hesitance, combined with Banks' strange reticence, made it appear that at times, neither man was giving full effort. As fans, all we can properly do is ask that the people we pay to see perform give their best effort, and if they don't, then I think paying customers have grounds for complaint. They don't, however, in my opinion, have grounds for asserting or insinuating that Banks threw the fight. I've seen that theory floated on the Net, and please, that's not fair to Banks or the game to casually throw that out there. Never mind, I don't see how or why someone starts off OK, and looks to hurt and stop his foe, as Banks did...and only then goes on cruise control, to drop a decision. Would the bet have been EITHER KO win before three, OR decision loss?
Loeffler said fractured knuckles, one on each hand, which occured in round one and two, made Banks unable to commit to his shots. "Like most boxers, he does have a higher tolerance to pain than us, but it didn't help during the fight," he said. "I don't think it was a matter of him not wanting it, wanting to win. But he couldn't explain it. He just had an off night."
I asked if it indicated that his heart isn't in it, that he'd rather just train Wladimir Klitschko, rather than glove up himself. "No, Banks is one of the most mentally strong guys I know," Loeffler said. "He's not afraid of success. He still wants to fight."
Many eyes will be on him in his next fight, to see if that is so. Not as many eyes as would have been on him if he'd stopped Mitchell again, and kept up the momentum from that statement fight, however...
Loeffler also offered an update on what's next for Vitali Klitschko. The WBC heavyweight champion, he said, is counting down to a July 22 purse bid, to hash out terms to make a fight with his "mandatory," Bermane Stiverne. Stiverne beat Cris Arreola for the right to meet Vitali, and his promoter, Don King, will co-promote the bout-in-the-works. Will a deal be hashed out before July 22, or will it go to purse bid, I asked.
"Fifty-fifty," Loeffler answered.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?