Danny Jacobs clarifies role of Virgil Hunter in upcoming camp
Danny Jacobs shed light on his new alliance with trainer Virgil Hunter for his upcoming fight with Gennady Golovkin on March 18, saying Andre Rozier will remain in the role of head trainer while Hunter is there to assist and advise in preparations.
Jacobs declined to label Hunter co-trainer or assistant trainer of if he will even be in the corner for the fight. All he would say definitively is that he’s set to travel to Oakland, California to train at Hunter’s King’s Boxing Gym following a two-city press tour on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City and Los Angeles.
“He will be there throughout training and he will be there to point out little things and assist Andre anyway he can,” Jacobs told RingTV.com on Monday from Sadam Ali’s bunker-like gym in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where HBO was collecting 24/7 like footage for the bout. “I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can. This is the ultimate opponent and I’m going to be a super-sponge and capitalize and learn whatever I can to defeat this guy.”
But Jacobs was clear about who will be in charge for a bout set to take place at Madison Square Garden on HBO PPV for Golovkin’s WBC/WBA/IBF middleweight titles. “Andre is the head trainer,” Jacobs said of his longtime coach. “Andre will always be my head trainer. There’s nothing that will change that. If there’s someone who’s going to come in — they’re not going to overtake Andre’s position because Andre has been there with me since I was 15, 16 years old.”
Jacobs doesn’t anticipate wholesale adjustments to the way he fights with the addition of Hunter. “I don’t think there’s going to be any changes made,” he said. “I waited this long in my career. But to go to one camp and to change the style that got me to this point — it doesn’t make sense. But at the end of the day, I think it was the perfect power-move (to work with Hunter in Oakland).”
Hunter is best known for guiding Andre Ward to titles in multiple divisions, including a razor-thin win over Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas. Jacobs smiled at the mention of Ward’s win over Kovalev. Jacobs (32-1, 29 knockouts) attended that bout, and he expects fighters that Hunter trains such as Ward and Amir Khan to be around when he trains. “I went to the Andre Ward-Kovalev fight and I was so inspired by what Andre Ward was able to do,” Jacobs said. “The influence that he already has on me — I just thought it was perfect to go out there and just touch shoulders with him, have conversations with him and just be a part of his gym and vibe.”
Hunter was successful in implementing a game-plan that allowed Ward to mostly neutralize Kovalev’s power, aside from a second-round knockdown. Jacobs noticed the way in which Kovalev’s power was diffused and he will have to do the same against the power-punching Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs). At the same time, he knows he’s a different fighter from Ward and won’t try to mimic what he does. “I can never be an Andre Ward and vice-versa,” Jacobs said. “We have different styles and to go in there and to fight like Andre Ward would be difficult. My thing is to do the best that I can do and for my team to come up with the perfect strategies, Plan A, Plan B and Plan C if need be. I think I’ll be good.”
Jacobs referenced Hunter’s reputation as a motivator as a chief reason he decided to add Hunter to his team. “One thing I’ve always admired about Virgil over the years is his ability to have a connection to his fighters,” said Jacobs, who turns 30 on Feb. 3 and will celebrate his birthday while at camp. “Boxing is more than just hitting the pads and having good pad-game. It’s about actually getting inside a fighter’s head and being able to motivate him to do what he needs to do. I know if we’re sparring or in the gym one day and he says certain things with Andre (Rozier) — then I’m pretty sure I’m going to implement it.”