By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – John David Jackson doesn’t view Saturday night as an opportunity to avenge his loss to Bernard Hopkins.
The only way Jackson could truly feel as though he exacted revenge against Hopkins for stopping him in the seventh round of their middleweight title fight 17½ years ago would be beating Hopkins in a rematch. That’s obviously impossible for the 51-year-old Jackson, who retired in 1999, but he’ll still get a sense of satisfaction if the fighter he trains, Sergey Kovalev, tops Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) in their light heavyweight championship unification fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (10:45 p.m. ET; HBO).
“I think the timing’s right for Sergey,” Jackson told BoxingScene.com. “Bernard’s been around the block for a while, even though Bernard’s still crafty. He appears still crafty, but he’s old. The things he did as a young man, he can’t do now. He’s been able to kind of fool the public. The Shumenovs, the Murats and the Clouds, they’re robotic. He did what he wanted to do.
“When he fought Dawson, Calzaghe and to a degree Pascal, they were more athletic. Pascal was beating him till he ran out of gas. Dawson and Calzaghe did beat him. [Kovalev] is very athletic, but he’s also strong. He’s a bigger puncher than those guys are. And when he hits Bernard anywhere, Bernard’s going to feel it. If he beats Sergey, God bless him. He should be in the Hall of Fame that night. Forget that. Just knowing Bernard, the timing’s right for this kid.”
Jackson thinks “ego and greed” led to Hopkins accepting a 12-round fight he’ll enter as approximately a 2-1 underdog against Russia’s Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs). But Jackson, who helped train Hopkins from 2006-2010, still respects all Hopkins has accomplished throughout a remarkable Hall-of-Fame career that began in October 1988, when Kovalev was 5.
“You have to take your hat off to Bernard,” Jackson said. “I could sit here and bad-mouth Bernard, say stupid things, but that’d make me look like a fool. With everything he’s accomplished, it’s more than even he believed he would accomplish. You have to give him credit for that. To come from the background he’s come from – he came from prison – and not to go back, Bernard’s living in a wonderful house. You have to give him credit for that. He didn’t have that at one time in his life. Now he has it. He is an example for what fighters can do. He lives clean. He does the right things to take care of himself. And most important, he takes care of his money.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.