SERGEY KOVALEV, his manager Egis Klimas and trainer John David Jackson walked out of today’s press conference. The source of the rancour with Andre Ward and his team stems, in part, from the controversial claim that trainer John David Jackson wanted to defect from Kovalev’s corner to join his antagonist Ward.

Speaking to Boxing News, Jackson said, “They’re trying to say that I reached out to them. I never reached out to them. They reached out to me. They made me an offer and in the end I said no. I stayed loyal to my guy. That was it. All they’re trying to do is play mind game, get inside Sergey’s head, but it didn’t work. What they actually did, without thinking, brought us closer together.

“You’ve got to do what you can to offset the other camp’s preparation and what they’re doing. They tried, they failed. I give them credit, at least they tried.”

Expecting this issue to come up at Thursday’s press conference, John David Jackson had resolved to leave. Kovalev elected to go with him. “I was going to do it. I told Egis, the manager, he said, ‘Let’s walk out together. We don’t want to be here either.’ I just wanted to say my piece, didn’t want to get in a big war of words. Let them do the talking,” the trainer said.

There was some confusion in the first fight, with input from a Russian friend in Kovalev’s corner. “That was the first time I saw him and the last time I saw him in my life,” Jackson said. He maintains that won’t be a problem second time around and highlights other key differences. “He has a new conditioning coach [Alexandr Mikhailovitch], he’s not killing himself to do certain things, 13 miles a day. It’s a better camp for him and mentally he’s better. The new guy came in,” John continued. “He went back already. He came for the conditioning and he’s gone.”

John David Jackson

Jackson explained why he believes Kovalev will outbox and hurt Andre Ward in this rematch: “He proved first fight that he could beat Ward at his own game. Sergey’s jab is so much stronger, he was knocking Ward off balance with it. But he wasn’t consistent with it in the second half of the first fight. Stay consistent, use the same plan that you used in the first half of the first fight, you will beat Ward. It’s not that Ward figured Sergey out, it’s that Sergey got fatigued and allowed Ward to get back in the game. What’s Ward going to do different? You will see come fight night.”