Wednesday, September 27, 2023  |



Sergey Kovalev says he’s in touch with his inner ‘Krusher’ for Shabranskyy fight

Photo by Tom Hogan
Fighters Network

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — With the experience of defeat behind him and a new coach alongside, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev held a media workout at Wild Card West Tuesday afternoon anticipating the next phase of his boxing career, intent on dispelling any and all doubts.

Almost a year to the day since losing the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight titles to Andre Ward, Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) was continually asked during the media scrum to rehash that fight and the June rematch, and there was a reoccurring theme in the explanations of his only losses: Lack of conditioning and shoddy preparation were to blame.

In a later conversation with, Kovalev, 34, got into more detail.

“No,” Kovalev said with a smile when asked if he’d take offense to anyone questioning his work ethic going forward. “It’s my business. I’m living comfortable, how I want and how I wanted. But right now, I shoot to get put out of comfortable zone. To get changes, I should get out of the comfortable zone. I did it right now. Working inside of the uncomfortable zone. It’s helped me to grow up and get better than I was before.”

This “uncomfortable zone” he speaks of is the rigorous training it takes to prepare for a 12-round fight, and on Nov. 25 (10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT on HBO), Kovalev will face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) for the WBO light heavyweight title left vacant by Ward’s retirement last month. Like many champions of the past, Kovalev learned the hard way how one’s drive can change after earning the ultimate designation for a fighter.

“Not easier. It was different,” Kovalev replied when asked if training came easier for him before becoming a champion. “All three years I didn’t fly to Russia. All this working and it brought me success. When I got title – not at once, but later after a couple fights – when I got the opportunity to spend money for tickets after each fight and get back to Russia, I started to fly often. Very often.”

According to Kovalev, it all started to go astray before he faced Isaac Chilemba in July 2016, which was the stay-busy prelude to his first episode with Ward. Clues to there being frustration in his camps were brought up before the rematch, and although they were disputed at the time, Kovalev proceeded to relieve trainer John David Jackson of his duties.

“I understand I should go back to what brought success to me,” proclaimed Kovalev. “And right now, I’m trying to get this again. This is like a new chapter in my boxing career, but already with a clean mind. Delete all my mistakes, clean my body, clean my mind, and everything. I miss the fight, I miss the victory, I miss the Krusher.”

Abror Turnsunpulatov is Sergey’s new boxing coach, while Aleksandr Sedov will handle the physical conditioning. Turnsunoulatov, who also trains 2016 Olympic gold medal-winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, isn’t the most noteworthy trainer, but along with having  plenty of experience, being able to communicate with Sergey in Russian has helped.

“When I started working with him, I noticed his boxer’s character was asleep. And only last Friday we woke it up,” Turnsunpulatov revealed to through the translation of Kovalev’s manager, Egis Klimas. “After last Friday, I started trusting in him much more than I trusted before.”

Turnsunpulatov said it was a moment in training when he came to this realization, but wouldn’t specify further. By all accounts, however, this “Krusher” character boxing fans have grown to know and love may be fully resurrected.

“I found him,” Kovalev said in closing. “He’s inside me right now. I want to show to the boxing fans the real Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev who was before the last three fights. It’s my goal right now, so let me start my workout.”


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