By Michael Doss
Three months ago, unified light heavyweight champion Andre Ward 32-0 (16 KOs) earned his claim as boxing’s top pound for pound fighter and erased any doubts by stopping Sergey Kovalev 30-2-1 (26 KOs) inside of eight rounds in their highly anticipated rematch.
Seven months prior, Ward had won a highly disputed decision over the “Krusher”.
Prior to and since the June loss, Jackson and Kovalev have had a lot of public friction between the two. The former world champion turned trainer has kept quiet for the most part on the status between himself and his longtime pupil.
Even prior to the Ward rematch, BoxingScene.com had broken a story that Jackson had been in talks with members of Ward's team to jump ship - because of the internal rift within the Kovalev camp.
Jackson recently told ATG Radio his current status with Kovalev:
“Right now by the way it looks now, I am not his trainer anymore. I was there for the rematch because there really wasn’t anything for us. Adonis hadn’t stepped up to the plate. That was the logical fight for him," Jackson said.
“I knew for the second fight that Ward was going to crowd him, if you give Sergey distance you’re in trouble, Ward is a very intelligent fighter so he knew going into the second fight that he had to crowd Sergey. I knew that we could have won the rematch but Sergey started making money, getting big headed and he didn’t want to train hard anymore. Every camp was worse and worse."
In the rematch, Ward's main strategy was to target Kovalev's body - which Jackson admits is the boxer's weak spot.
“I wanted the second fight to prove that we won the first fight but in camp for the second fight he did less than in the first. If he isn’t hungry anymore, that’s on him. He showed his true colors but if he comes back he is damaged goods. He would probably beat a couple of guys but now they know your secret. You can’t take it to the body, you’re in trouble," Jackson said.
“I've been trying to teach him for years to fight on the inside, in Camp, Don Turner was there and can witness. I was doing some body work on Sergey, I made him fold up. I’m 54 years old and he couldn't take it. I told Don, if Ward can get inside, withstand his early shots then he (Sergey) is in trouble and that is what happened, he proved me right.
“Before the second fight, I didn’t say much, I wasn’t trying to build the fight up or brag on my guy because I knew if Ward fought even half as he did last fight then it was over.
On Kovalev blaming him for the rematch loss to Andre Ward:
“Sergey likes to talk trash. He said a couple of things. He's blaming me for the loss but let me tell you this, you can’t blame me for your loss when you quit. He quit! Once Andre started hitting him to the body he was done," Jackson said.
“I told Don Turner in camp, if Ward goes to the body, Sergey is done, he can't take it to the body. So, right now he is trying to blame me for his loss but if you don’t train properly for the fight you can't blame me, you can’t blame me for things that you don’t do in camp that make you a better fighter and win a fight.”
On the controversy of speaking with Ward’s camp prior to the June rematch:
“I got a call but I kept it under wraps, a call to switch camps. Sergey and I have been going through stuff for years because he is a real assh*le, he is really bad. So I got a phone call from somebody in Ward’s camp and said, "What do you think about coming to our side" and then I said that you would have to make it worth my while," Jackson said.
“But if I do this they are going to call me a traitor and then a backstabber but they don’t know how this guy is in camp. So think about it, you call me in January, fight is in June but you are dragging on. It got to the point that I was in the office, every fight this guy (Kovalev) wants to cut my purse, he is a real piece of work.
“I was even guaranteed by others that I would get my full percentage after the fight but it was dragged out by Wards side, it was not Andre Ward’s fault, let me say that, I’m not blaming anybody. It just didn’t work out, so I stayed on his (Kovalev's) side but he didnt train. If you knew this cat in real life, you would want to leave his camp too”
On Kovalev’s selfish behavior:
“He makes Russian people look bad, all the Russians that I’ve trained, they are wonderful people man. They would give you the shirt of their back. This guy (Kovalev), is a complete d*ck. He wants everything for himself," Jackson said.
“Just a really selfish person, I hate to say it but I heard he is saying all kinds of stuff. He is just that bad but here is my thing, people said, "Well, you should have just left him" but my loyalty was to Main Events and his manager because they were always good to me.
“They made sure that every fight I got paid what I was supposed to. This cat here, when he got paid, he didn’t want to pay you. I stayed for them.
Thoughts on who Kovalev will work with in the future and how it will work out:
"Mann, everyone has a hard time with him (Kovalev). He thinks that he did everything himself, he gave me no credit, Main Events no credit. He says that he done this all on his own.
“Every fight he became worse and worse. All I say is that the next person who trains him better get a contract signed before because you won’t get paid what you are supposed to. You know it’s bad when everything that this guy has, he has his emblems on it. Krusher on everything. His car, his house, everything in the gym has it, the bags, everything. But when all of this sh*t drops, he is going to see how it is for him.
“Main Events, they still need him and hopefully he will be there for them. At light heavyweight, he had such a hard time making weight first of all. There isn’t much he can do at light heavyweight now. This other kid Artur Beterbiev, he was the person that I always thought would have beat Sergey. The reason why I say that is because he is a tremendous puncher and would have went to his body. He would break Sergey down. Andre was just smarter and got to him first."
Michael Doss is the host of ATG Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday. Please email any questions and comments to [email protected]