By Keith Idec
Sergey Kovalev might’ve learned something important from John David Jackson after all.
Kovalev revealed Thursday that he has been considering hiring Virgil Hunter, Andre Ward’s career-long trainer, to replace John David Jackson. Russia’s Kovalev confirmed Saturday that he won’t work with Jackson anymore because he doesn’t think the former junior middleweight and middleweight champion taught him enough to take his career to the next level.
Their parting of ways was hardly surprising, since Jackson has publicly trashed Kovalev recently as a difficult fighter to work with and someone who wouldn’t listen to him. In another fascinating twist to the Kovalev-Jackson saga, Hunter offered to train Kovalev after Ward defeated the former light heavyweight champion by eighth-round technical knockout in their rematch June 17 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Jackson caused controversy during the building toward their rematch when he admitted he had conversations with Ward’s handlers about joining their team following Ward’s narrow, unanimous-decision win against Kovalev in their first fight November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Now it’s Kovalev himself contemplating whether to enlist the help of Ward’s trainer to get his career back on track.
“I didn’t decide it,” Kovalev said Thursday during a press conference in Manhattan to promote his next fight. “I’m still thinking, but it’s a good offer. You know, maybe. Or maybe not. Who knows? I can’t get back to the team of my opponent, who I hate. Right now, it’s two persons inside me wrestling, like yes or no. It’s not easy to say yes or no.
“I’ll just keep going [by] myself right now, and I already almost understand who it’ll be [on] my team. But I’m just not ready to announce it because I’m not sure 100 percent. But I already decided who I want to see in my training camp and my team.”
If Kovalev decides to join Hunter, they won’t have to worry about having Kovalev and Ward in training camp at the same time because Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) announced his retirement Thursday. Kovalev is scheduled to return to the ring against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) on November 25 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.