“You can’t motivate a guy to want to train. John had problems with getting him to train correctly. Sergey Kovalev is a very shrewd guy and he’s very hard to work with...a lot of that is not rumor about Sergey. Sergey is very, very difficult to deal with. He’s the kind of person that wants people around him walking on egg shells. The more he elevated in status, the worse he became and the harder it was to deal with him,” stated trainer Kenny Ellis Jr., who confirmed stories from world-class trainer John David Jackson about how difficult it was to work with light heavyweight champion John David Jackson. Check it out!
PC: Kenny, you were right there with John David Jackson during the period he was with Sergey Kovalev. Nate, you are very close to John and I know you wanted to comment as well. I’m sure when you guys see some of the things Kovalev is saying about John not teaching him anything and things like that, you could chime in.
Nate Campbell: Let me tell you my opinion first because Kenny is going to tell you the inside stuff. Kovalev don’t listen. They showed a video of John sitting down on the phone while he was working out. John’s job was done by that time. He was working with his strength and conditioning guy by the time that picture was taken with him sitting on the ring. So John is supposed to watch him do exercises? Really? John is supposed to hold his hand. I lived in John David Jackson’s house and he never woke me up to run because he didn’t have to. I’m a professional. I know what my job is. They are paying me a lot of money to be in shape. There are certain things that I gotta do for myself as a fighter. He didn’t tell nobody about how much Vodka he was drinking.
PC: And I think Max Kellerman was right in saying for a guy that felt like he got a raw deal in the Ward fights, he sure did do a lot of soul searching.
NC: But it’s John’s fault? He did a lot of soul searching, but it’s John David’s fault?
Kenny Ellis Jr.: You can’t motivate a guy to want to train. John had problems with getting him to train correctly. Sergey Kovalev is a very shrewd guy and he’s very hard to work with. It’s a situation where...you ever been in a situation where you gotta take care of your family and pay bills?
KEJ: That’s the situation he was in because I know firsthand John wanted to get away from him, but when you got kids in college and you paying a mortgage, sometimes you gotta take certain things on the chin. He is a shrewd and rude dude. First off, John got Sergey when he was about 9-0 and put that balance in him. He showed him how to box. He showed him some tricks. You can fight, but can you box? John gave him that. Once he got to the big dance, he forgot who he came to the party with. He forgot who he should do business with.
PC: Was it a money thing or a power thing? Do you think the money he made, he got like that or do you think the more assertive he became as a fighter, he became like that because of the power his name carried in the sport?
NC: I’ma tell you something, Percy, everybody says Nate Campbell hard to deal with and Nate Campbell this and Nate Campbell that, and a lot of folks may believe I’m hard to deal with. And if you say something stupid to me, I might be. I just might be hard to deal with. I can’t knock how you feel. But whenever John David Jackson told me something, all he ever got back from me was two words, “Yes sir!” As a matter of fact, Kenny Ellis could attest to this, one day me and a dude got into a fist fight in the gym. It was Richar Abril. Me and Richar Abril got into it in the gym one day. We were boxing in the gym and he got kind of dirty. It was the first time Kenny ever worked with me in the gym. I told Kenny, “If he fouls me one more time, it’s going to get ugly.” Kenny said, “Come on, baby, get the work.” If you know me, you know I ain’t hearing that. You foul me, it’s going to be what it’s going to be and it is what it is. All of that extra talking was going over my head. So, you know how Kenny talk, “Man, get this work. We need this work, baby.” I’m like, “Man, fuck this work. He foul me one more time, I’ll burn this motherfucker down with him in it.” I’m in that place now. Out of nowhere, he fouls me again. I went bonkers. I went ape shit. I went bananas. And Kenny will tell you it went to a whole 'nother place. I beat him up. He kicked me while they were holding me. I caught it, but he tried to kick me in the face. I told Kenny, “Kenny, take these motherfucking gloves off of me. I’m about to fuck him up.” Kenny tells me, “I ain’t doing nothing. Go sit down over there. Get somebody else in here.” I said, “Alright, cool.” Next thing Kenny said he remember hearing is me biting off the tape and it came off. He said, “This stubborn motherfucker got this tape off.” Next thing Kenny heard was me chamber a round in my .40 caliber headed to the door. Kenny goes to cussing; John David, as calm as he is, Kenny, what did John tell you?
KEJ: “Go get Nate!”
NC: Calm as can be. He never got irate, mind you. I got a loaded semi-automatic hand gun. And anybody who know me knows it’s about to go all the way down in this joint. Ain’t no talking about it; ain’t no discussing this or talking about it. I’m about to do something to him. Kenny panicked. Kenny said, “I don’t know this motherfucker like this.” John never raised his voice. In a situation like this where it’s about to go down wronger than wrong; I’m armed at this point, bro. John David calmly defused that situation. After Marcus Upshaw grabbed me, I was still about to go out to my car and get one of my other 35 guns in the car. John defused the situation just like that.
KEJ: To answer your initial question, Percy, it was a combination of both; power and money. When he won his first world title, he changed. I was there for it. Did Sergey appear to be a little racist? Yeah! He didn’t appear to have too much for the brothers.
NC: He dealt with John because John had something to give him. He would just come in the gym and not say a whole lot to us. He never said anything slick, but you could just tell. As a brother, you could tell when somebody don’t have too much for you.
NC: I was going to come down to camp one time and anybody that knows me knows I’m militant. John David knows I will cuss, cut, or fight any motherfucker in the world. I don’t care who you are. Kenny could tell you, anybody that knows me from back in the day knows that I will set fire to the back door and shoot anybody that comes out of the front. That’s my mentality. When I was going to come out to camp, John told me, “Nate, I don’t think you should come out here.”
KEJ: He ended up firing the assistant. He couldn’t give a reason of why he fired him, he just fired him; Derrick.
NC: He said he didn’t want Derrick around him. That’s the guy that trains Sullivan Barrera, so you know Derrick wants that fight with Sergey.
PC: What did you see from Sergey in his fight against Shabranskyy?
KEJ: I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t even watch that shit.
NC: Man, that bullshit. They put him in with a crackhead. You must be out of your damn mind. They put him in with a dope head and you ask me what I think about it. You get a world title shot after back-to-back losses. They didn’t give me a world title shot after I lost. They made me fight everybody under the sun. I fought everybody. I knew the narrative would be “he’s back,” but he fought a crackhead. That kid look like he smoked crack 2 hours before the fight.
KEJ: I’ll end with this, Percy, a lot of that is not rumor about Sergey. Sergey is very, very difficult to deal with. He’s the kind of person that wants people around him walking on egg shells. The more he elevated in status, the worse he became and the harder it was to deal with him.
PC: Do you remember the moment you started to notice him change?
NC: When he won his first world title. I’ma tell you something, John didn’t say it, but he said it to me. You know how John is; he don’t say nothing, but he say it. I was like, “Damn, for real.” He was like, “Yeah Nate, he’s hard to deal with now.”
KEJ: I will tell you this, when they went and fought the boy Cleverly, John came back and told me, “His career ain’t going to be long. Boy, he drinks that Vodka like you wouldn’t believe.”
NC: I wanted you to hear it not just from me and what I was able to put together from talking to John, I wanted you to hear it from somebody. Kenny was in the actual camp with them. I needed for Kenny to get on the mic and talk about it because you ain’t about to make me feel wrong about my boy.
KEJ: There were times John hated going to gym and dealing with him. And he’s trying to make it as if John is some Uncle Tom, but if that is the case, we are all some Uncle Toms because we all worked with or for somebody that we really didn’t like.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]