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Klitchko camp gives Leapai no chance in title challenge

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday, April 25, 2014

DUSSELDORF, Germany - The head trainer of world champion Wladimir Klitschko, former pro Johnathon Banks, says Alex Leapai is a man without a plan as the Australian tries to produce one of the sport's great upsets in Germany tomorrow night.

After the pre-fight circus surrounding US heavyweight Shannon Briggs had calmed down, the Klitschko camp turned its attention back to Leapai, who almost became a side story after Briggs theatrically stormed a press conference in Dusseldorf.

Banks, a decorated amateur and former IBF and IBO cruiserweight champion, said there would be no underestimating Leapai but the 34-year-old Queenslander was likely to find himself in far too deep against a man that hasn't lost for 10 years.

He said he doubted Leapai had any real idea how to make inroads against Klitschko, a towering fighter that will take a considerable reach, height and experience advantage into the historic bout, one in which Leapai becomes the first Australian heavyweight contender in more than a century.

"Alex Leapai has made several statements. I don't think Alex Leapai knows what he is going to do in the opening bell. He never came to the table with a plan. The only thing he says is 'I want to win'. But what is this guy's strategy? What's he going to do? I don't know and guarantee he don't know either," Banks said.

"All he knows is he wants to win. Does he have a strategy? No. To hit you — that's not a strategy.

"I think Alex Leapai is going to just come out and see what he can do. He'll be like: 'Ok, I'm here. I'm in the casino. I don't have any money but I'll see what I can do'."

Banks and the Klitschko team aren't taking Leapai lightly by any case, even if they firmly expect their undisputed champion to retain all of his belts with considerable ease. Banks compared the fight to when Lennox Lewis lost to Hasim Rahman in 2001, a bout in which he believed Lewis didn't give enough credit to his opponent.

He said Klitschko won't be making the same mistake that saw Lewis hit the canvas at the hands of a rank outsider.

"I think anytime you have a motivated guy in the other corner, you've got a problem."

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