By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – John David Jackson never believed Sergey Kovalev was serious about hiring Virgil Hunter as his new trainer.
Kovalev revealed before choosing Abror Tursunpulatov as Jackson’s replacement that he was considering working with Hunter, who helped prepare Andre Ward to defeat Kovalev twice. Hunter had expressed interest in becoming Kovalev’s trainer, despite all of the bad blood between their camps before and after the former light heavyweight champion’s two losses to Ward.
After working with Kovalev for several years, Jackson knew the demanding, no-nonsense Hunter wouldn’t work well with Kovalev.
“If Virgil would’ve taken him, that would’ve been stupid of Virgil,” Jackson told BoxingScene.com recently. “Sergey doesn’t listen to you at all. If Virgil works with you, you’re gonna listen to Virgil. He’s not gonna take that crap. I knew that would’ve been a mistake right there. [Kovalev] wants to run his whole show. I know whoever he got, he would run the show however he wants it. He doesn’t want someone who can teach him. He wants someone he can dictate to.”
Jackson thinks Kovalev found just that type of trainer in Tursunpulatov, who is preparing Kovalev for his return to the ring November 25. That’s when Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) will square off against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title in a fight HBO will televise from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Kathy Duva, whose company promotes Kovalev, and Egis Klimas, Kovalev’s manager, have expressed recently that their fighter has learned from previous camp mistakes and has taken a different approach to this training camp. Jackson doesn’t believe that’s possible because the Russian knockout artist is so stubborn.
“He wants to dictate everything in his camp,” Jackson said. “That’s all he wants. That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s why I told another reporter, whoever [works] with Sergey, get a contract. I guarantee you he’s paying these guys less money. He’s paying them what he wants to pay them. That’s why he picked who he picked.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.