John David Jackson gives his keys to Kovalev beating Ward
The most anticipated boxing match of 2016, in the eyes of I dare say a majority of fight fans, will unfold in a scant week. On Nov. 19, we will see a true blue “best fighting the best” tango between longtime pound for pound entrant Andre Ward, a person who hasn’t lost since he entered puberty, and Russian terminator Sergey Kovalev, the hammer-fisted light heavyweight champ who is helping rebuild the new paradigm that has non-Americans snagging P4P slots.
We soon see if this new world order, which speaks to a belief that Americans nurtured in a gentler milieu, who haven’t had to cut and scratch and claw furiously to stay afloat let alone elevate, gets cemented in a battle for 175-pound supremacy. We will soon see if “Made in America” can still be a label to be proud of, if Ward can ride his skill set as an impeccable technician to a ‘W’ and an assertion through victory that he deserves to be seen as the best pugilist on the planet (not named Mayweather).
Kovalev trainer John David Jackson, no surprise, is publicly stating his guy will have his hand raised in Las Vegas after the HBO Pay Per View tussle. But he’s offering some solid insights, and illuminating depth and detail in his breakdown of the face-off, and reasoning how and why the Russian will force Ward to taste defeat for the first time in 20 years.
Here are some nuggets from the former 154-pound and 160-pound champ, who tutors clients in Florida:
“In order to beat Ward, Sergey has to be able to cut the ring off. He has to make Ward engage and if Ward engages he will make himself vulnerable and leave himself open to the counter-punches. Sergey also has to beat his body down and make Ward, as the rounds go by, depleted of his energy. Then he will get him late with a knockout.”
You often don’t get such specificity from a trainer in the lead-up to a bout. Thanks, JDJ!
More from the tutor:
“What Sergey has to prevent Ward from doing is getting into a trap of falling behind in rounds. He can’t let Ward get two, three, four, five, six rounds ahead where he is behind the eight ball trying to play catch-up. Sergey has to come out of the gate and establish his power, his strength and his boxing abilities. If he does not win the first three rounds, he at least has to keep him even, so down the stretch as he begins to deplete Ward of his power, he will get him with either a late-round knockout or dominate the later rounds and win by decision. He cannot let Ward get ahead early and have to try to play catch-up.”
Again, you rarely hear such a blueprint for success made public. I embrace it, because c’mon, even if Ward knows the plan of attack, it will be the superiority of athleticism and a package of power and stamina and will that will bring Kovalev a win.
Jackson also offers us a deeper analysis of one of the subplots, that of the diminishing of the reputation of American-made pugilists.
“To a degree, most American fighters today aren’t really that hungry. The European fighters that come from Russia or Germany, they are hungry because their lifestyle and their way of living is a little bit harsher. Either you are rich or you are poor in Russia. There is no middle ground. There are no subsidies from the government to help you out. You are either rich or you are poor and that is what makes these fighters hungry… A lot of these guys who come from European countries, they are hungry. They don’t have the advantages that we have in America. I still believe that they are hungry and they are more dedicated at least in the beginning of their careers when they first get here.”
Makes sense. It is the same reason that pops up when I see immigrants here in NYC working their tails off, without whining. Because where they come from, opportunities to elevate are harder to come by. They appreciate the atmosphere here and are able to work while immersed in an attitude of gratitude, rather than depression at doing worse than their forefathers.
Folks who tab Kovalev to exit the victor point to a perceived edge in power and also the belief that Ward has worsened with age. Jackson speaks to these subjects:
“Kovalev’s biggest visible advantage is his punching power,” the trainer said. “Power like his is God-given. You either have it or you don’t and he has it. He may not look like he is strong but he has tremendous punching power. That is definitely his biggest advantage.”
Oh but Jackson isn’t going to share his whole blueprint-playbook.
“Ward has three major mistakes but I cannot reveal them until fight night. On Nov. 19 we will see if he has corrected them. Ward still made mistakes in his last two fights. He is past his prime. He is on the downward decline. Some have said that so is Sergey but Sergey is a puncher. His decline will not be as visible as Ward’s will be.”
To sum up, so much food for thought from JDJ. I am of the camp who thinks Ward didn’t show he’s lost some edge in recent efforts, but more so that he fought to the level of the foe and will match levels come Nov. 19. But I want to hear from you, the masses. Anything Jackson said you take issue with? Any idea what those “three major mistakes” are? Fire your own keys to victory for both pugs in our comment section below.