"He won the fight decisively, but he didn't look as good as he could have. That might play into our favor a little bit with the upcoming fight...he's come a long way since I have got with him. He's become a better boxer and he stalks you a lot different...He has to concentrate solely on being a fighter and let everybody else do their job. He needs to worry about seek and destroy," stated world-class trainer John David Jackson, who talked about Sergey Kovalev's recent performance against Isaac Chilemba and their upcoming clash with Andre Ward. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the win over Chilemba. How much, if any, did fighting in Russia change what you had to do as a trainer?
JDJ: Not really for me because he had been down there before I had even gotten there, so it allowed him to get adjusted to it. I wasn't worried about myself. So as far as the time and things like that, it wasn't a problem for him.
PC: Sergey has definitely gotten people spoiled to him knocking his opponents out, so when the knockout doesn't come, a certain level of scrutiny follows. What were your thoughts on the performance?
JDJ: It could have been better. Sergey had a little bit of a cold and he also showed Chilemba a little bit of light. Chilemba is a technical boxer with decent power, nothing special though, and I think Sergey thought he was going to knock him out once he hit him with that right hand. I told him he should have used the left hook more and threw more combinations, but he wanted the knockout and I think he just had too much pressure of being in front of his hometown fans and ticket requests. He actually put too much pressure on himself to look spectacular and it didn't work out for him. He won the fight decisively, but he didn't look as good as he could have. That might play into our favor a little bit with the upcoming fight.
PC: You were a great boxer. You were a southpaw with a hit and not get hit style; a total contrast to what Sergey is. Was that a tough adjustment for you as a trainer to train a fighter who has a totally different skill set than what you brought to the ring?
JDJ: Actually Percy, with my style of teaching, and I had George Benton; I sat back and watched him and he and I had the same personality pretty much. I was able to deal with whatever style a fighter presented to me. I work off what he does best, not what I did as a fighter best. So with Sergey, he's a natural born puncher and I seen that right away, but I seen that his boxing skills wasn't as good as they could have been and his body punching wasn't where it needed to be. I had to work with him on certain things that he needed to work on as far as technique and things that he needed to do. Sometimes he doesn't give me credit for it, but he's come a long way since I have got with him. He's become a better boxer and he stalks you a lot different. When I first met him, he was strictly a head hunter. He said, "John, I just look for the head," and I told him, "The way you punch, you may want to look at another part and that's the body." A puncher like that, you want to hit that body and break it down. This last fight, things kind of got away from him. He was trying to impress the crowd and his hometown fans and was looking for that one-punch knockout. He was looking for that right hand too much. He forgot about the body and the jab and the hook. He was fighting a one-handed fight and he won it, but if he would've applied himself a little bit more and started chopping this guy down a little bit, he probably could have gotten this guy out of there. He hurt him and he showed that he can hurt him and drop him; he just couldn't sustain it as far as being in tip-top condition.
PC: That's a crazy thing because no matter how spectacular a fighter has looked leading up to their hometown fight, it always seems to be a stumbling block for them to where they don't look their best. And you hit the nail on the head. The demand is there and they put too much pressure to look spectacular.
JDJ: Percy, you said it exactly right. First of all, you have family and then you have friends and everybody wants tickets. Everybody wants the hook up. Nobody wants to buy tickets. You have too many requests and the thing is, he's also a promoter now, so he's wearing too many hats. For this fight, he wanted to wear too many hats. He wanted to be the trainer; he wanted to be everything. And I told him, "When you fight Ward, you gotta be one thing and that's a fighter." He has to concentrate solely on being a fighter and let everybody else do their job. He needs to worry about seek and destroy. And he even said after the fight, "You know John, I took on too much and I tried to be too many things at one time and I shouldn't have did that." For him, it was nice because he took a valuable lesson from that. Do what you do best and that's be a fighter.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]