by Mariusz Serafin/Tomasz S. Galazka (bokser.org)
On February 27, Tomasz Adamek (36-1, 24 KO) will touch gloves with the undefeated Johnathon Banks (20-0, 14 KOs) in Newark, NJ, in his first IBF junior heavyweight title defense after the magnificent 12-round war in December against Steve Cunningham, when he won the champion's belt. We speak with Adamek’s trainer Andrzej Gmitruk about the upcoming fight.
Mariusz Serafin: How are the preparations for Tomasz's fight against Banks?
Andrzej Gmitruk: We have entered the final phase, strong specialized training. We had to remodel the training plan totally, due to the short period of time elapsed since the previous fight. We had so little time, we couldn't reprise certain elements of preparations the way we did before the previous fight, I'm thinking here of speed and stamina issues mostly. We are now in a very intense sparring period, on Monday Tomasz had his first, ten-round sparring against three opponents. Yesterday he had a day off, with only massages and biological refreshment scheduled. Today he's in for a minor, six-round sparring against two partners, but that's oriented on a particular issue - the timing, that is, when to keep distance and when to attack. In these technical sparrings we mostly try to improve the final phase of the attack, so that there would be no pauses and as few hits taken as possible, because we know Jonathan Banks does pack a punch, so the defense has to be tight.
MS: What kind of an opponent is Jonathon Banks?
AG: He's gifted with a powerful punch, and not just in his right hand, as everyone says - he's got a mean left hook as well. His wide stance indicates he'll hit hard in the beginning of the fight. He may be less mobile than Cunningham, but he'll certainly be a demanding opponent. As far as the legwork goes, he's not very fast or agile, but in the beginning, when he's rested, he's got very fast hands. And so we'll have to watch out for him in the first few rounds, we need a strategy, which is still under discussion.
The coaches working with me and the journalists from US websites all have their propositions, but I have chosen mine based on talks with Tomasz Adamek. I watched several Banks' fights, including the last one against Rosito- this was different, as Rosito fights from southpaw stance, but still I managed to note a few things. Certainly Banks has a big right hand. Of course I noted the press tales that he spars with Klitschkos and equals them in punching power, but I'm my own man as far as estimating Banks' capabilities and preparing a strategy against him goes.
Me and Tomasz, we aim at eliminating that right hand of his from the equation, and at a few other issues that I wouldn't want to get into now. Banks will certainly be dangerous at the beginning of the fight, he's pretty quick for a junior heavyweight. He's considered slower than Cunningham, and I'd agree, he is, but not in the first stage of the fight. If Tomasz fights calmly, carefully plans his defense, and that's what we pay particular attention to, I'm optimistic.
MS: How much does Tomasz weigh now?
AG: 205 pounds, i.e. not much above the cruiserweight limit. He's dynamic and fast. His last sparring was really impressive. We trained certain tactical elements. With the sparring scheduled for 10 rounds we decided to take it easy in rounds 5 and 6, to rest a bit, and Tomasz turned up the heat in rounds 9 and 10 - he gave a great show. It reinforced my conviction that if the Banks fight goes on for ten or twelve rounds, Tomasz will be able to keep up high intensity boxing until the end while still defending himself well, which was not quite there in the Cunningham fight. However the training before that fight lasted for too long, Tomasz had to wait too long for that fight. This time the situation is different.
MS: Aren't you afraid of overstraining? Tomasz is in constant training mode...
AG: I always had those fears when there was such a short interval between the fights, but I don't think Tomasz is overly taxed now. We changed the speed and stamina training utterly, as well as the technical training schedule. We don't have to increase stamina through shield training, we focus on discrete phases, because Tomasz's stamina is already great, you can see it already. He's prepared, he's dynamic, he has great timing - he sees every blow coming, He blocks them, it's a whole different show than before the fight against Cunningham. I think all will go fine.
MS: Banks will have the famous Emanuel Steward in his corner, although in everyday work he consults other coaches, too...
AG: That's only natural that the team has other coaches to help out the main one. I also look for such trainers, if only so as to be able to step aside once in a while, to be able to reflect on what's abort to happen with more detachment. I do think Emanuel Steward will be in Banks' corner, and that will have a certain psychological impact, as well - that's a big name coach, a legend in American boxing, a fine professional, and all this will certainly have a psychological influence.
MS: A duel of coaches?
AG: I've known Emanuel for years now. I recall him coming to Norway when I was coaching the national team there. For me he's a great man, a brilliant tactician, a titanic personality. It certainly is an honor to me to have him in the opposite corner.