By Ray Wheatley — World of Boxing
Trainer Graham Shaw talks to Fightnews and explains the plan that was put into place for his charge the IBF/WBA middleweight champion Daniel Geale to lift the WBA super title from Felix Sturm in Germany. Shaw also tells of all the people behind the scenes responsible for this great victory to happen including Gary Shaw, Bill Treacy, Garrie Francisco, Phil Cropper, Kevin Holland, Sakio Bika and Nader Hamdan.
“When the news came through to confirm that the Geale/Sturm unification was on, it was time to switch to overdrive and concentrate solely on beating a long term champion in his own back yard. Whilst Daniel is a fighter who is never out of the gym this was a major step up in opponent and required the training that would accomplish that task.
“Right from the start when Bill Treacy and I studied tapes of Sturm we knew we had to set a working pace from the first round through til the last, the key was to throw combinations using angles with plenty of left and right hooks and never going back to the same spot when we’d finished, which would play into the hands of Sturm with his great jab. Head movement was a big thing to this fight and not something that we had to change as Daniel already had that skill. Leading up to this fight Daniel sparred 160 rounds, culminating with a last spar of 15 rounds. We started off the first week with Sam Columban who was good enough to come up from Melbourne, we then used a combination of Nader Hamden and Rocky Jerkic who both gave Daniel good work as we stepped up the rounds.
“Unfortunately Trent Broadhurst was unable to join us in this prep as he injured his hand weeks before, we have used Trent for Daniels last 3 fights and he always brings his A game with the rare ability of being able to mimic any style. We wanted a strong technical fighter and with overseas options having dried up including one that thought it would be OK to bring the entire family over for a holiday at our expense. We rang Ben McCulloch and he was very keen, was in shape and had a fight coming up. After the first spar we realized that Ben fitted the bill and along with Sakio Bika would give Daniel the work required.
“The sparring was always of high quality with both Ben and Sakio pushing Daniel to his best and made for great viewing for those lucky enough to see it. Twice during the last couple of weeks former grange fighter and well known “card player” Rob Medley drove from Mudgee to do some rounds with Daniel, having sparred hundreds of rounds together it was good to see that the intensity was still there although Rob seemed to think that I was behind some heavy work to the body by Daniel.
“The last week is always the toughest as far as training goes and this one was no different, gymwork, running and sparring all reach their peak and it takes someone special to push their way through it. I’m pleased to say that Daniel ticked all the boxes and on the very day we flew out to Germany he did the last run/sprint session at 8am after sparring 15 rounds the afternoon before. I,d like to say a big thank you to Steve Lovett who did the weekly runs with Daniel and pushed himself in the gym as a training partner. Also a special thanks to Jamie Pittman and Ranee Ganoy who have sweated along with Daniel in the gym and are a credit to boxing and anyone lucky enough to know them.
“Arriving in Germany, we were picked up and taken to our hotel in Essen which is about 30 min drive to the arena in Oberhausen. We were all in pretty quick and got into a routine which was, early morning run followed by breakfast then training at a local gym in the afternoon. We were extremely lucky to have been given the “Recover Fight Club” to train at, its owner Andreas and his partner Sabine were the perfect hosts and spoke English and just could not do enough to accommodate us. Throughout the week there were promoter’s obligations, press conference on Monday and a public workout in a shopping mall on Wednesday. All went off very smoothly apart from Daniel’s brother, and part of the corner team, Joe, disappearing in Germany’s biggest shopping mall for 30 mins “just gabbed a couple of DVDs, what’s the problem?”
“On the Tuesday of the last week Gary Shaw arrived from the U.S. and Brian Wilmott, Australia’s premier cut man and hand wrapper, joined the camp. Most evenings were taken up with the, now infamous, card games. Gary Shaw joined us for one night and despite his Vegas style shuffles and indifference to the rules of the game, went back to his room a shattered man. Having had previous experience with the likes of Rob Medley and his dodgy pack of cards (known through out the mining industry) I can only say that all games were played in the right spirit with an emphasis on fair play.
“Our media man for the event was Ben Damon, who did a great job getting all the stories back to Australia. Needing one more for the corner, I asked Ben if he’d take the job, he jumped at it, although the offers of helping Brian with the cuts and me with fight strategy where politely turned down.
“The weigh-in was at the unusual time of 12:30PM and was at a large car dealership who sponsor Sturm, everything went smoothly with both fighters weighing in the same, as they did with the morning weigh-in which was done at each fighters hotel and supervised by IBF boss Lindsey Tucker.
“The day of the fight was taken up with breakfast and Daniel relaxing before we left for the venue at 7:30pm. Upon arrival we were taken to the dressing room where we set up shop in preparation for the fight. When the time came to do our warm up, everyone in the room was impressed with the way Daniel was hitting the pads, it’s always a good sign of things to come. We were led into the arena to be greeted by a full house of boos, just to let us know we were on foreign soil.
“I won’t go into detail on the fight as most people that read a boxing mag would have seen it by now, suffice to say it was a great fight from two great fighters with Daniel Geale showing the world that he has truly arrived as a major force in the middleweight division and that Australia should be very proud of their unified IBF/WBA world champion.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the people behind the scenes of this fight and indeed the Grange Old School Boxing gym, Garrie Francisco worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran smoothly for us both in Australia and Germany and did a great job. Bill kept everyone on their toes and their eyes on the prize, as well as helping me with the fight plan. I must also thank Phil Cropper who was there at the beginning and Kevin Holland who has always believed in our fighters, last but not least to Dave Parker who has been a reliable set of hands in the gym as my assistant.”