Wednesday, October 05, 2022  |



Sergey Kovalev: ‘I don’t need a coach’

Photo by: Naoki Fukuda

Sergey Kovalev is moving on with his career. And he will do so without the services of trainer John David Jackson.

Will Kovalev have a trainer before his next fight, which is scheduled to take place in a little over two months time? According to Kovalev, do not hold your breath.

Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 knockouts) will face light heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Shabranskyy on November 25 inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 12-round bout will air live on HBO.

The Shabranskyy bout will mark Kovalev’s return, since his eighth round stoppage loss to Andre Ward on June 17. After spending the summer visiting family and defending a master’s thesis in his native Russia, Kovalev has already begun training for the Shabranskyy fight.

The notable omission from this training camp is Jackson, who had been in the corner of Kovalev since 2012. During that time, Kovalev won three world title belts and was considered the best light heavyweight in boxing.

Then came the two fights with Ward, the second of which was punctuated by the stunning knockout loss. For Kovalev, the events on that day are spotty, at best.

“I don’t remember anything from the middle of the second round on,” Kovalev told a group of boxing scribes Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas while waiting to watch the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight that evening. “I woke up from the right hand by Andre Ward in the eighth round. I don’t know what was wrong with my body during the fight.”

“(Regarding the low blows), I felt like it was a street fight but we were fighting under boxing rules. I never punched below the belt because I understand (that), here in the U.S. and everywhere else, I would get disqualified. What has happened, happened. It’s already history. It was like a bad dream. I woke up and now I want to continue my career.”

Kovalev, who is promoted by Main Events and managed by Egis Klimas, heard what Jackson said recently about what had occurred during training camp for the Ward rematch. Jackson stated he dropped Kovalev with body punches and had private discussions with the Ward camp.

Not mincing words, Kovalev had his own opinion of Jackson.

“It’s funny but I don’t need a coach. All this time with John David Jackson, I got nothing from him. Everything, my preparation, was constructed by myself. Jackson wouldn’t help me. A coach should help you inside the ring between rounds, when you have a minute rest, to explain or help you with tactics. I know when and where to punch, since I began boxing at 11 years old. I had thoughts for a while about splitting with Jackson.”

“I read (what Jackson said about me) but in Russian (media). Someone translated what he said to Russian. I don’t want to say any bad words (about him). He’s a nice guy. He’s not the coach for me. He might be a good trainer and a good guy. I need a teacher who will take me to the next level.”

Klimas also addressed rumors about Jackson slipping pills to Kovalev that might have influenced his performance on the night of the Ward rematch.

“If it was true, (Jackson) would’ve already been locked up and jailed,” said Klimas, who also manages Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. “He started talking trash and I responded. Jackson kept saying what he was doing to Sergey in training camp. All these years they’ve been working together and has been talking good about Sergey. Now all of a sudden, after the (Ward) fight, he’s been talking all that dirt. Can you imagine how much hate (Jackson) has in him and not saying anything?”

As far as who could possibly be Kovalev’s next trainer, Klimas did confirm he has spoken to a few trainers.

“I’m not going to get into who I’ve spoken to (thus far),” said Klimas.

For now, Kovalev is training himself and is content with that. It does not sound like he is in a hurry to seek out a trainer with whom to to work but that could change.

His real ambition is to find a trainer that will get the best out of him.

“I want a coach that will increase my level in boxing. I’m looking forward to being the best for myself. I want to show that I can be the best I can be as a boxer. I was in my best shape before this fight but something happened to me inside the ring. I was very relaxed. I was nervous. I was surprised something happened.

“I’m not broken mentally. I’m still strong on the inside. Everything is good.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.

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