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GGG: Learning ‘new skills’ from trainer Banks

LAS VEGAS — Former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin introduced his new trainer at a news conference on Saturday morning, having enlisted Johnathon Banks to lead the next chapter of his “Big Drama Show.”

“I want to build on what I have already achieved and continue to improve as a boxer,” Golovkin said. “Johnathon is teaching me new skills that will help me reach those goals. I believe in Johnathon’s teaching methods.”

The unveiling of Golovkin’s new trainer at a news conference at the MGM Grand came just hours before the man he hopes to face for a third time in the fall, unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez, faces Daniel Jacobs in a unification fight at T-Mobile Arena.

Golovkin’s first fight with Banks in charge is his already-scheduled bout at 164 pounds against Steve Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York, in the first bout of Golovkin’s three-year, six-fight, nine-figure deal with sports streaming service DAZN.

“We are working hard, and I look forward to showing the world something special when I bring the ‘Big Drama Show’ to Madison Square Garden on June 8,” said Golovkin, who has been working with Banks for the past two weeks but managed to keep his selection a secret.

Said Banks: “It’s an honor to work with the best middleweight in the world, Triple-G. I see the hunger. I see the passion.”

They are training at a gym in Big Bear Lake, California, not far from Abel Sanchez’s Summit Gym, where Golovkin spent years training.

GGG’s move came two weeks after he announced on April 24 that he had parted ways with longtime trainer Sanchez, who had been with him for his previous 22 fights since 2010, a historic stretch in which Golovkin tied the middleweight division record with 20 consecutive title defenses. He went 20-1-1 with Sanchez in his corner and heavily credited him for his work.

But Golovkin is coming off a disputed majority decision loss to Alvarez in September that cost him his world titles, and he has made numerous changes to his team, with Sanchez’s departure the latest.

Sanchez said he was offered a deal to remain Golovkin’s trainer, but at a massive pay cut, which Sanchez lashed out at, especially in the wake of Golovkin’s new rich deal with DAZN.

So Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), 37, a Kazakhstan native living in Santa Monica, California, hired Banks, whom he has known casually for years.

Golovkin, who declined to discuss Sanchez’s comments and had nothing negative to say about him, could have probably convinced any trainer to take him on, but he said Banks was who he wanted and that he did not consider anyone else.

“There was no short list,” Tom Loeffler, the managing director of GGG Promotions, said.

Banks said when he got a call from somebody on Golovkin’s team — he would not identify who — asking if he would be interested in training Golovkin, he immediately accepted.

He will have a small window to get Golovkin ready for the fight with Rolls, a massive underdog, but said everything has gone well in the brief time they have been together. He said the main point he wants to make to GGG is to get him to throw more punches in his fights, especially considering his massive power.

“I have always been a fan of Triple G since I began watching him as an amateur. I remember him at the [2004] Olympics and thought he was a tremendous talent,” Banks said. “When I got the call, of course I was excited to be working with him.

“We have one goal, and that is to officially return Gennady to the world championship throne that he deserves. The two fights Gennady had with Canelo reminded me of the two battles between Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. Those fights had the same caliber of high-level competition. I can’t wait for Gennady to get another shot at him.”

Banks, 36, of Detroit boxed as a heavyweight from 2004 to 2014 and compiled a record of 29-3-1, with 19 knockouts. But he gained some notoriety as a sparring partner for former longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Banks learned boxing from the late, great Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward at his Kronk Gym in Detroit, and when Steward died in 2012, Klitschko asked Banks to replace him. Banks trained Klitschko from 2012 until Klitschko’s 2017 retirement. Banks also serves as the trainer for undisputed women’s welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus.

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