RingTV.com spoke with heavyweight Johnathon Banks in the wake of his having suffered a broken right thumb that has forced him out of a Feb. 16 rematch with Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell, who lost by second-round knockout to Banks in November.
Banks (29-1-1, 19 knockouts) was to face Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, site of their first bout.
Ironically, in late May of last year, it had been Mitchell who had been forced to pull out of a scheduled July 14 bout against Banks as a result of suffering an injured right hand.
Banks-Mitchell II was to be part of a card whose main event will match WBC lightweight beltholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner against Gavin Rees, with an undercard super middleweight bout featuring Cameroon native Sakio Bika against unbeaten Nikola Sjekloca of Montenegro in a WBC eliminator.
In the absence of Banks-Mitchell II, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said Bika-Sjekloca could become “the opening bout. So we’re working on that.”
Before facing Mitchell, Banks had long served as a sparring partner for the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir. Wladimir is the RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champ, and Vitali is the WBC’s beltholder.
In addition, from the age of 15 Banks had been tutored by the late Hall of Fame trainer, Emanuel “Manny” Steward, who died in October at the age of 68, and whose funeral Banks attended four days prior to defeating Mitchell.
Before his death, Steward charged Banks with preparing Wladimir Klitschko for his unanimous-decision victory over Mariusz Wach on Nov. 10 — a week prior to Banks’ stoppage of Mitchell.
In this Q&A below, Banks discussed the circumstances leading up to his injury, which occurred on Monday in Detroit, and was diagnosed on Tuesday at Henry Ford Hospital, he said.
RingTV.com: Can you discuss how the injury developed regarding your thumb?
Johnathon Banks: I can tell you exactly what happened. I was in the gym preparing for the fight, and it was during sparring. I ended up throwing a shot and I ended up breaking my thumb.
But I didn’t know that it was broken until later on that night. I was in such excruciating pain that I ended up calling my brother and telling him to take me to the emergency room.
RingTV.com: When did you realize how bad it was?
JB: Well, I told my brother that I was in such excruciating pain that I thought something was wrong. So he took me to the doctor, and they took an X-ray, and they came back and they told me, “Well, you broke your thumb.”
This just happened on Monday, and on Monday night, actually, Tuesday, because it was after Midnight. I was in a lot of pain and lying in the bed.
At about 12:30 or 1 a.m., I called my brother and I said, “Listen, man, I need to go to the emergency room because I’m in such excruciating pain that I can’t even speak.”
JB: Man, my thumb was killing me. It was throbbing so badly that I felt like I had a heartbeat inside of my thumb or something. So my brother rushed over there, took me to the hospital, and that was the result.
I went to the hospital and they wound up putting a cast on it. It’s the right thumb, so I can’t even put a glove on it. Of course, with a cast, there is nothing I can do with it.
RingTV.com: How was training going to that point?
JB: Listen, man, I’m telling you this: Training was excellent. Everything about it was going excellently. I went through the last week’s training camp and it was great and I was feeling great.
So everybody on the team is really just sad right now, because I was feeling tremendously, just like I did for the first fight. I mean, I was in shape.
Come on man, I would never underestimate a guy like Seth. Never in a thousand years. So, therefore, I trained hard and did everything I could.
I was doing everything that I could to win this fight again, but the only problem is that I wound up breaking my thumb in the process.
RingTV.com: Do you hope to have this fight rescheduled?
JB: I’m going to tell you this: The first fight, when he was injured, they rescheduled, and I’m thankful to Golden Boy for doing it. So I think that they should reschedule this one.
Either reschedule it, or, if they don’t want to reschedule it, that’s up to them. Seth wanted the rematch, and I’m trying to be a man of my word.
But if they don’t want to reschedule it, that’s fine. I’m hearing that people want to match him up with Bryant Jennings now.
If that’s what they want to do, and let me fight the winner of that, then that’s fine. However they want to do it, I’m good with it. But I thought that the fight should be rescheduled or something.
RingTV.com: At what point do you become frustrated with all of the adversity that you have faced regarding fights involving Mitchell?
JB: As far as the thumb being broke, one thing about it, I was contemplating continuing with the fight, and I was trying to get the doctors not to put a cast on it. But Wladimir Klitschko called me.
And what Wladimir told me is that “I’m asking you not to take the fight with a broken thumb.” He said, “you’ve waited too long to get into this position, and I don’t think that you should take the fight with a broken thumb.”
Upon his advice, and after talking to him, I said, “You know, Wladimir is right, I have too much to lose and nothing to gain if I take this fight with a broken thumb.”
Because no one would care if I lose because of a broken thumb. The only thing that they care about is the final result. I would be like, “You lost the fight, period.”
So, therefore, the first fight would be a fluke, and that’s that. So, in order for me to prove that the first fight was not a fluke, I would have to be at 100 percent.
RingTV.com: Were you given a prognosis for recovery?
JB: They have told me that with it being in a brace, that if I were to do nothing, that it would take at least six to eight weeks to completely heal. Once they told me that, I said, “I’m going to have to cancel this fight.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com