Former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin's recent parting with longtime trainer Abel Sanchez due to a dispute over compensation meant GGG was in the market for a new chief cornerman.
At the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this past Saturday, Golovkin introduced his new trainer -- former heavyweight contender Johnathon Banks. He's best known for taking over as Wladimir Klitschko's head trainer when the former longtime heavyweight's mentor, Emanuel Steward, passed away in 2012. Banks is also the trainer for undisputed women's welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus.
Why is this a good move for GGG?
Dan Rafael: It is if Golovkin believes in Banks and is happy with his decision. Sometimes trainers are overrated, but as long as the fighter believes in the trainer and his way of doing things, it's fine. GGG is who he is and no trainer is going to make major changes. But could a new voice add a few wrinkles or enhance Golovkin's motivation if it has at all waned during his long career? Maybe.
Banks is a pro's pro also. He knows boxing. He learned from the best in Steward and also has a reputation as a very hard worker who might be able to refresh GGG if he had gotten a little stale after so many years with Sanchez.
Steve Kim: I think this remains to be seen. Perhaps Golovkin had plateaued under the direction of Abel Sanchez and a new voice in the corner was needed. Banks has made it clear that he will be implementing some new ideas to Golovkin. In looking at past fights, Banks believed the hard-hitting boxer had gotten much too reliant on his vaunted power. He says he will emphasize getting Golovkin to throw more punches and be a more active fighter round-by-round.
At the world-class level, it's his belief that it's difficult to just stop upper-echelon fighters with such few punches.
Why is this not a good move for GGG?
Rafael: Sanchez led GGG to his historic reign of a record 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses, and they seemed to have a genuine bond. When you would see Golovkin, you would see Sanchez. Often. Everywhere. So it's a shame they broke up over money.
Sanchez said Golovkin wanted to stay with him but only if he took a massive pay cut, an unusual request given GGG had just cashed in with a new deal with DAZN. I'm a big believer in if it ain't broken, don't fix it, and even though GGG is coming off a loss to Canelo Alvarez in their rematch, many believe he deserved to win. Sanchez wasn't a judge. He's a quality trainer with a strong résumé. He has his guys in shape and is known for running an organized training camp.
Kim: Again, this remains to be seen but what does concern many observers is that heading into this camp for Steve Rolls, Golovkin and Banks will remain at the high-altitude setting of Big Bear. There is a belief that training up here is not conducive for the rest and recovery needed by older fighters. However, Golovkin does enjoy the privacy and solitude that Big Bear provides.
It will be interesting to see if they remain here after the Rolls fight. It was automatically assumed that the split from Abel would mean that Golovkin would be coming back down from the mountain to train, but as of now that is not the case.
Golovkin: New trainer will get me to the next level
Gennady Golovkin says his new trainer, Johnathon Banks, will be able to get him to the next level of his fighting career.
What does Banks bring to the table that's different from GGG's former trainer Abel Sanchez?
Rafael: For one thing, Banks is a former fighter, only a few years removed from his own career, so he knows what GGG is going through. He's also a lot younger than Sanchez and closer to Golovkin's age, so perhaps that will help with their connection. What he also brings to the table is the many years of wisdom from Steward -- a man who would be on the Mount Rushmore of boxing trainers -- and the many years of being trained by him and working by his side in training camps. That is invaluable and it's what Banks models his training ways and philosophy on.
Kim: Banks already has Golovkin doing much more work on the pads than Sanchez -- a way to getting him to throw more fluid combinations and to up his punch rate. Golovkin said he is enjoying this new-found regimen. Sanchez didn't work the mitts nearly as much as many modern-day trainers. Perhaps over time that conditioned Golovkin to become a more methodical fighter.
Do you believe Banks was the best choice? Was there a better option as a trainer for GGG?
Rafael: Banks is a fine choice. There are a lot of good trainers out there and any probably would have been willing to take on Golovkin. But Banks, who doesn't have many fighters, will be able to give GGG plenty of attention, so that's a good thing.
Kim: Banks could end up being a very good choice. No, he doesn't have the track record of other more established trainers, but he has been involved with marquee fighters such as Klitschko and Braekhus. He's a real student of the sport and he doesn't have a huge roster of boxers in his stable. So, for the time being, most of his focus can be centered on Golovkin.
I honestly couldn't tell you who would've been the best choice for Golovkin. The usual big names, such as Freddie Roach, made sense based on their experience and résumé, but the reality is that Golovkin is basically a finished product as a fighter. All he needs is perhaps a few tweaks to his game. I believe at this stage, he needs a trainer that he gets along with in a setting that is familiar to him. It's going to be difficult in my view for him to replicate the close, personal relationship he had enjoyed with Sanchez.