AFTER ripping away the WBO light-heavyweight title from Nathan Cleverly in 2013 and then terrorising the division ever since, Russia’s Sergey Kovalev has earned a fearsome reputation. His trainer, John David Jackson gives us an insight into how “Krusher” prepares.
There are only two gameplans in boxing. Either you’re going to slug or you’re going to box. It’s just the way you formulate that plan. There are two ways of boxing, either go forward or go backwards, and we’ve covered both bases.
It’s not rocket science. It’s a thinking man’s sport, you have to get deep into it to really think about what you have to do. I try to simplify it for my fighters.
We have a couple of [sparring partners] we’re working with, one mover, a guy who pursues him. He can get the best of both worlds. A guy who’s going to take off running and a guy who’s going to come at him.
The man that pursues him looks at me like I’m crazy, ‘Man, I don’t want to keep pursuing this guy.’ Hey listen, that’s your job. You’re in the line of fire. Move your head, don’t just get hit. But Sergey works well with both sides.
Kovalev’s work ethic is great. You don’t have to tell him what to do. We talk about what needs to be done and then we just do it. Every day he walks in the gym, I tell him what the plan is, how many rounds he’s doing. That’s all he needs to know. He does the rest.
Tuesday, Thursday is when we work on technique, the mitts, the bag, the speed bag. Those days we work on technique in preparation for the fight. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, mainly sparring, a little speed bag, jump ropes. Different days we do different things. Most of the physical work he does [with a conditioning coach] in the morning and we start training at 5pm.
That’s one thing about him that really surprised me, his natural punching power. At any weight he’s the most natural puncher I’ve met. His boxing skills are underrated. People don’t realise how good of a boxer he is.
He can box another fighter into situations that benefit him and set up a knockout for him.
DON’T CHANGE TOO MUCH
The only thing I worked on with him at the beginning were his feet. He has natural punching power.
The balance, the stance, sometimes he would be a little bit off balance when he punches. The footing I changed a little bit for him. I didn’t change the overall stance that he has because whatever he does it works for him tremendously.
The way he throws punches, the angles are so unorthodox most fighters don’t realise where they’re coming from.
When you get hit with it, the shot that hurts you the most is the shot you don’t see. They don’t know where [his shots] are coming from, because of the direction and the position he’s in.
When I first got him, he was a head-hunter. All he wanted to do was go to the head and knock you out. I explained to him that if you go to the body, you’re going to make your job a whole lot easier. Because he’s such a tremendous puncher, the body-punching is going to slow your opponent down for you and drop those hands and guess what, you can hit him on the chin all day long. The lack of his body attack, we improved that. He’s a hell of a body puncher now..
They have a rougher upbringing [in Russia] I believe. It makes them hungry just to be more successful. The [amateur] tournaments are probably crazy. They probably fight like cats and dogs over there, real hard. These guys are willing to do what they’ve got to do to become world champion.