Johnathon Banks has revealed the tough sparring tests Adrian Granat (15-1, 14 KOs) had to endure at the famous Kronk Gym ahead of his Viking showdown with domestic rival Otto Wallin (19-0, 13 KOs) on April 21 at the Gärdehov in Sundsvall, Sweden.
Having first met in Hamburg while Granat was sparring British heavyweight Dillian Whyte, Banks was suitably impressed to invite the Malmo-boxer to join one of former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko’s training camps.
At Klitschko’s camp, Granat continued to impress, and when the 26 year-old called upon Banks to help him prepare for his biggest career test, the American was happy to accept, and Granat spent a month in Detroit training with Banks at the Kronk Gym.
“I think Adrian was kind of shocked when we were on our way to the gym,” says Banks as he recalls their first journey through Detroit. “He was looking around and asking ‘what’s wrong with all these houses?’ Most of them burnt up, ran down or broken into. You go to some neighbourhood blocks and there might not be four houses worth living in. He’s seen all that and he’s like wow, but that’s just Detroit.
“People from that kind of background don’t care where you’re from or how big you are. When I first got into the ring with Wladimir Klitschko, I didn’t care where he was from. I didn’t care about his accomplishments. I just wanted to hit him as hard as I could. That’s the same mentality Adrian had to face at the Kronk. People didn’t care who he was or where he was from. But he passed the test. He stepped up when it was time to step up. I was worried for a minute but he definitely stepped up, and that was kind of impressive.”
As a figurehead for the Kronk Gym, Banks continues to push the philosophy of his mentor Emanuel Steward, the iconic coach who guided multiple World Champions including Thomas Hearns, and heavyweight legends Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.
“It’s not just about winning. It’s about how you win,” explains Banks. “It’s about going for the knockout. That’s what the great Emanuel Steward was about. He wanted entertaining fights, he wanted knockouts, and that’s something I try to instil in all of my fighters.
“Why walk into a fight if you just want to look at your opponent and go the distance. The purpose of boxing is to either make your opponent quit or to knock them out. It’s got to be one of the two. That’s what I’ve been drilling into Adrian. If he knocks his opponent out, he’s done his job. If his opponent knocks him out, he’s done his job. That’s just the sport.”
Banks says he believes the Swedish showdown, branded the ‘Battle Of The Vikings’, will come down to a ‘battle of wills’ with the victor being the one who ‘wants it more’.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” says Banks. “Adrian’s opponent Otto Wallin is another top Swedish fighter. He’s actually one of the better fighters to come out of the Scandinavian countries. I have utmost respect for the guy and for his coach Joey Gamache.
“Instead of just a ‘Battle Of The Vikings’, we’re going to see a battle of wills, and whoever has the strongest will is going to win, because both fighters are in shape, both fighters will be equally prepared so whoever wants it more is going to have the most success.”
Otto Wallin and Adrian Granat meet in a Swedish super fight for the European Union Heavyweight title on April 21 at the Gärdehov in Sundsvall on the same night Mikaela Laurén challenges Verena Kaiser for the IBO Female World Super Welterweight strap.
Sven Fornling defends his IBF Baltic title against Karel Horejsek, while rising Swedish stars Oliver Flodin, Robin Safar, Simon Henriksson, Rocco Wadell and David Loy, plus international heavyweights Albon Pervizaj and Agron Smakici return to action.