Home Boxing News Joe Hanks talks to Ring News 24 about his career so far

Joe Hanks talks to Ring News 24 about his career so far

Ringnews24.com: You’ve fought once already this year, defeating Rafael Pedro in just two rounds. What are your plans for the rest of this year?

Joe Hanks: I’m fighting Marcus Rhode next on April 27th. I just want to keep getting more experience and potentially get a title fight by say 2013. Maybe even get over to the UK. You got some good fans over there.

Ringnews24.com: Have you had any offers to fight over here?

Joe Hanks: I haven’t had any discussion about it but I’d love to. Boxing is huge overseas right now. You guys have some great fighters over there and put on some great shows and guys are even coming over here and making a lot of noise. I’d love to come over there. Great fans, great environment, I think it would be a great experience for me.

Ringnews24.com: In your opinion, has your progression been good so far or perhaps a little too slow?

Joe Hanks: I think my progression’s been great so far. As an athlete I always want to do more and push harder. I’m definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think I’m just starting to hit my stride and really getting better. I now know myself more as a fighter and really believe in how far I can go.

Ringnews24.com: You’ve done well in your 19 pro fights. When do you plan to make an impact at World level?

Joe Hanks: I think 2013 will be an ideal year for me. This year, 2012, is the year I think I will be mentioned amongst the good fighters here and overseas. I want to my name to be mentioned among that group and make people say this guy is going to make some noise. That’s what this year is about. Then going into 2013 will be when I think I’ll be in a position to win a World title.

Ringnews24.com: You’re only 29 which is still very young for a heavyweight contender and your nickname is ‘The Future’. Do you see yourself as having a big future for years to come?

Joe Hanks: Yeah, I think I can. I think the sky’s the limit for me. I’m 6ft4, 250lbs, I’m a professional in every sense of the word, I train hard, I rest and I don’t party or drink. I think the future for me is going to be real bright. I think the only person who can stop me is me.

Ringnews24.com: The US Heavyweight scene hasn’t been as strong as it has been historically. Do you see yourself as the man to take US heavyweight boxing back to the top?

Joe Hanks: I see myself as an American heavyweight who can do some things on the big stage. I think there’s a few of us and with the American scene being the way it is right now I think it will be even more worthwhile when we do break out and show how good we are. I think it’s good for us being the underdog right now. There was a time when American heavyweights ruled the division and people just expected them to be number one and do big things. Now people don’t expect us to do anything. So I get to sneak up and prove some things as the underdog.

Ringnews24.com: Do you think being the underdog is a positive thing as it takes a lot of the expectations off of your shoulders?

Joe Hanks: I look at it as a positive for sure. When you mention the American heavyweights over to guys overseas like in Europe, they might just chuckle a little bit and think we’re not going to do anything. For me, that makes it better because nobody is expecting anything from us. I mean if I go in there and blow somebody out of the water I think it will be a big deal because I wouldn’t have been expected to do that. I would have been expected to either get knocked out or not look good so I get to creep up like an assassin.

Ringnews24.com: There are a few other US contenders like Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, Seth Mitchell and Deontay Wilder. Are you looking to fight those guys now?

Joe Hanks: Honestly speaking, if it comes down to it I’ll do it but I’m not that interested in fighting these small little battles when Americans are losing the war in boxing. I mean we could fight each other, beat each other but there’s no real significance in it. I think it really comes down to us going overseas and competing against those guys over there. You got guys like Tyson Fury, Alexander Povetkin and loads of other fighters with good records. I think that’s where the real significant fights are. I don’t really have a lot of interest in fighting the guys in my backyard. If it comes down to it, so be it, but I think there’s a bigger picture we need to go after.

Ringnews24.com: It does seem that the Americans and British heavyweights are happy to receive their World title shots whilst many European fighters seem to be shying away from the spotlight.

Joe Hanks: Well, I think for a while the idea has been to get a guy to the point where his record looks good enough to fight for a title whether he’s ready or not. Guys like Arreola, Thompson and Chambers have been pros for a long time and had the chance to develop to a stage they were ready to challenge for a title and be competitive. Whereas I think a lot of the guys in central Europe seem to keep trying to build up their records and maybe even waiting for one of the Klitschkos to retire so they can sneak in. A guy like Chisora was what 14-2 when he fought Vitali which is just unheard of to get a title shot but that’s the state of the heavyweight division. But he put on a really good performance.

Ringnews24.com: What did you think of the brawl in Germany between Dereck Chisora and David Haye? Was it good or bad for boxing?

Joe Hanks: In the UK, I think it makes for a very interesting showdown between the two. I want to see the fight. People weren’t even talking about Chisora not long ago and now everybody wants to see what he’s going to do next.

Ringnews24.com: You’re from New Jersey but you rarely get to fight there as you have mostly fought in New York and California. Why is that?

Joe Hanks: I live in California now so that caused me to build my name up on the west coast. There just weren’t a lot of opportunities really for me to get to fight in New Jersey. Eventually, I’d love to get back home and fight there.

Ringnews24.com: Why did you move to California?

Joe Hanks: Training reasons and to advance my career really. An opportunity presented itself, me and my team talked about it, decided it was a good idea and jumped on it.

Ringnews24.com: Who is your trainer?
Joe Hanks: Jamal Abdullah. He’s been with me since the amateurs. We’re both looking for the opportunity to make a name for ourselves. With coaches, it really only takes one fighter to get up there and win a World title and that opens the doors for them in terms of building their names and clientele so I’d like to be that guy for my coach.

Ringnews24.com: You’re 6ft4 tall. Do you see your height as being a valuable asset in your heavyweight career, especially considering heavyweights seem to be getting taller every year?

Joe Hanks: I think it’s a great asset. I’m not too tall, I’m not too short. It allows me to adjust in the ring. When you’re 6ft6 or 6ft7 you’re to use range and fight on the outside. When you’re 5ft11 or 6ft tall you’re taught to fight on the inside, bring pressure and come forward. I’m in the middle so I’m taught to do both. I can be very versatile. Take David Haye when he fought Wladimir Klitschko. He was able to make him miss a lot but he wasn’t quite big enough to make him pay. I’m a few inches taller than him and probably 20-30lbs heavier than him and I’m equally as fast.

Ringnews24.com: How would you describe your style to a person who may not have seen you fight yet?

Joe Hanks: I’m a boxer puncher and extremely adjustable. I’m a counter puncher who can bring it to you. I can be rangy if I need to be, I can keep you on the outside or I can come to you or I can stand right in front of you and make you miss. That’s the beauty with my height, I can adjust well and as I get older I‘m going to keep sharpening it up.

Ringnews24.com: Can you tell us about your amateur career?

Joe Hanks: In the States it’s really hard for a super heavyweight to find fights so I only had about 25 amateur fights. I became a top 10 in the country. I actually got my experience from being in camps with the professionals while still an amateur. I’ve been boxing Wladimir Klitschko since I had 6 amateur fights. I’ve also boxed Chris Byrd, Sultan Ibragimov, Lamon Brewster and Jameel McCline all before I’d even turned pro. I’ve even trained next to Evander Holyfield and watched him prepare for fights.

Ringnews24.com: How has that experience benefitted your career?

Joe Hanks: I got a lot of experience from being in camp with these top fighters. I’ve been around a lot of pros and learnt so much from these guys. I’m a gym rat. My amateur career really has been all about spending time around these top fighters. I’ve worked closely with Jameel McCline and Chris Byrd. Chris has been mentoring through the pros. I call him up and he gives me advice and has been a great part of my career.

Ringnews24.com: I think it’s easy to forget that even if a fighter hasn’t fought a large amount of World level opponents in his career, he is still surrounded by those types of fighters in the gym and learning from them on a daily basis.

Joe Hanks: Yeah, and I don’t have as much pressure on me either so I get to fly under the radar. I talk to guys who have fought the Klitschkos and other top fighters and I get to talk to these guys and I just sit back and listen and that gives me more confidence in my own career.

Ringnews24.com: Do you think the amateur scene is as competitive as the professional scene?

Joe Hanks: Yeah, some of my most competitive fights were at amateur level. I mean the national tournaments are contested by the toughest guys from each state and they all want to represent their state well. I think some amateur fights are probably more competitive than many pro fights.

Ringnews24.com: Do you have any theories on why the American amateur set up isn’t as successful now as years gone by?

Joe Hanks: I think it’s a mixture of things. We don’t have the funding at amateur level here as some other countries do. I mean you’re working full time job over here while trying to fight too. It’s tough. Also, we have so many other options like American football, baseball, basketball and hockey which are glamorous sports which many people follow. We don’t have boxing in many of the school systems so it’s very hard to get a college scholarship for boxing. I was one step from homeless when I was boxing as an amateur. I mean you got to work to eat and then go to the gym to train and you’re competing against guys in other countries whose job it is to train. Other countries have amateur programs where they’re taught boxing, are funded, have housing and are just kids. That’s what we’re competing against.

Ringnews24.com: Do you know when the funding in the USA for amateurs stopped?

Joe Hanks: I’m not sure there’s ever been funding. I know that for a kid here in the USA it’s extremely hard for him to have an honest shot at it. If you’re young you have school, you have to support yourself and you’re competing against guys who don’t just have wages but they also have nutritionists, they don’t have to worry about day-to-day necessities like rent and food. They’re already professionals in a sense. Even a lot of professionals over here have to work because they don’t have a great promotional deal.

Ringnews24.com: So in that sense it’s even more amazing that American fighters managed to win medals at amateur level.

Joe Hanks: Exactly. But at that time we were on top of boxing. Everyone was boxing. We had a lot of fighters, a lot of quality sparring, a lot of experience and guys from overseas were the underdogs. But, what did those underdogs do? They got back in the gyms; they got better on the skill side, better on the nutrition side, better on the points scoring side and better equipped to win. We might have been more athletic but overseas fighters made up for it on work ethic. Now the tables are turned, I’m the underdog now and I’m looking to get better.

Ringnews24.com: Are you a fan of past heavyweight eras? Who is your favourite heavyweight of the past?

Joe Hanks: I’m a huge fan of Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. I mean who doesn’t love Muhammad Ali? But, I’m also a huge fan of the smaller guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler. I watch the small weight divisions most of all.

Ringnews24.com: What do you think of the dominance of the Klitschko brothers? Do you think they are worthy heavyweight champions?

Joe Hanks: I think they’re worthy champions. We can’t discredit them for being so big and strong and being so good at what they do. Of course it’s going to hurt boxing when somebody wins so much because I think people start to get tired of seeing them win. As for their style, for them it’s awesome but for other people maybe it’s a bit boring because people want to see knockdowns and competitive action. It’s not their fault that their opponents can’t put up much of a fight though.

Ringnews24.com: Who do you blame?

Joe Hanks: I blame Lennox Lewis! He was so big, strong and dominant I think people went out to find a big guy to mimic Lennox. But I think they just found these big Lennox type guys who don’t have the tools Lennox had but they are so big and rangy it’s almost impossible for some guys to even get in there and mix it up with them. Dereck Chisora showed he could mix it up with taller heavyweights but he couldn’t beat Vitali. I think when the Klitschkos are gone maybe we won’t see these giant heavyweights anymore because smaller heavyweights will fancy their chances.

Ringnews24.com: I suppose it’s easier to stick another giant heavyweight in there with one of the Klitschkos and hope for the best.

Joe Hanks: Yeah but even some of these 6ft6 and 6ft7 guys just aren’t as talented as the Klitschkos. The Klitschkos are very strong, fast and smart. You can’t just find any tall guy and hope he’s going to do something.

Ringnews24.com: I believe that if the Klitschkos were any other nationality they’d be just as big in that country as they are in the Ukraine. What do you think?

Joe Hanks: I agree. In Germany they sell 50,000-60,000 seat soccer stadiums. I think if they were American they’d have rooms at the White House! They would be like what Manny Pacquiao is to the Philippines.

Ringnews24.com: After the Klitschkos go, how do you see the heavyweight landscape?

Joe Hanks: I think initially it might be a bit chaotic but I think it will be a lot more competitive. I think the titles could be unified again but may take a little time.

Ringnews24.com: Thanks for talking to us Joe and best of luck in your career.

Joe Hanks: No problem man. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I appreciate it.

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