By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – John David Jackson’s disgust with Sergey Kovalev is evident in his voice.
Nearly five months have passed since Kovalev’s technical knockout loss to Andre Ward in their rematch, but the frustration from their split is still fresh for Kovaelv’s former trainer. Their rocky relationship was an issue during training camp for Kovalev’s second fight with Ward, but it grew worse after Kovalev “quit” in their rematch, according to Jackson.
Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) will return to the ring against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) on November 25 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO). Abror Tursunpulatov, Kovalev’s new trainer, will work the former light heavyweight champion’s corner for the first time that night.
“Sergey is a guy who, when he first came here, he was humble,” Jackson told BoxingScene.com recently. “But the more he started winning, once he became champion, he became big-headed. He felt he did everything on his own. No one taught him anything, no one helped him get his title. So you get that from a lot of guys. He’s to the point now where [he feels] he doesn’t even need a trainer. OK. You need somebody.”
Despite their overall success together, Jackson will not be rooting for Kovalev in his return.
“Do I wish him well?,” Jackson said. “No. I can care less what he does. It doesn’t matter to me what he does, really. I can care less what he does in boxing. If he beats Shabranskyy, who has he really beat? He didn’t do anything. You didn’t beat the man that beat you.”
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) announced his retirement September 21, the same day a press conference was held in New York to officially announce the Kovalev-Shabranskyy bout.
Three months earlier, Ward was able to produce a more convincing victory over Kovalev than he did during their first fight, which Ward won by a widely debated unanimous decision. Ward, of Hayward, California, stopped Kovalev in the eighth round after landing multiple questionable body blows that referee Tony Weeks ruled were at or above Kovalev’s belt line.
That controversial conclusion aside, Jackson believes Kovalev had already “quit” by then because Ward clearly hurt him with a right hand earlier in the eighth round and was breaking Kovalev down to the body.
“You wanna be mad at somebody, be mad at Ward,” Jackson said. “Ward is the one that stopped you. Then you’re made because Ward retired. He had the nerve to say Ward is afraid to fight him a third time. He beat you convincingly the second time because you quit. No one else quit – you quit. But you want a third fight with him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.