(Photo by Kevin Howard) This Saturday night, the light heavyweight title is on the line as Sergey Kovalev looks to remain unbeaten when he faces top pound for pound star, Andre ‘SOG’ Ward. The highly anticipated clash not only holds implications for the light heavyweight division, but also to the sport in general, as many experts are touting it as the fight to prove who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Sergey Kovalev is regarded by most as the undisputed light heavyweight champion, a success gained alongside of his head trainer, John David Jackson.
I had a chance to speak with John David Jackson just days before the Ward-Kovalev showdown and got his thoughts on how he feels the fight will play out. John also discussed the prefight press conference as well as Virgil Hunter’s comments at the media event. Here is what John David Jackson had to say.
Jenna J: John, you just had the final conference for the Kovalev-Ward fight, were you surprised by what anyone said?
John David Jackson: Not any big surprises, some people went a little bit long with it, with what they were saying, got off of boxing a little bit. But for the most part, there is only so much you can say for a build up for a fight, by the time you get to the final press conference, everyone is tired of talking about the same thing, so at that point we all say it’s time for business and end the talking.
Jenna J: Virgil Hunter mentioned the pay for the fight during presser and that Ward was getting more. Do you think he was trying to get into Sergey’s head and do you think that talk bothers Kovalev at all?
John David Jackson: I started laughing because Kovalev is co-promoter for this fight, so he is definitely tied into the money, there is no way they can rob him, he is co-promoter with Main Events.
Jenna J: The fight is only two days away, now that it’s so close and the talk is over, what do you expect to happen?
John David Jackson: For a prediction, I am just going to predict a victory, whether it be knockout or decision. It’s not inconceivable that Sergey can win a decision, he just has to be smart and calculating in what he does in the ring and off set whatever traps that Ward may try and set. So for me, I’m hoping to see a knockout, it only cements his position as the number one pound for pound fighter. If he wins by decision and wins it convincingly it will be great, as long as he wins, that’s all I care about, whether it’s a split decision, a hairline decision, whatever kind of decision, long as he wins it.
Jenna J: Do you think this fight can live up to the hype that has been built up for it?
John David Jackson: I honestly hope it can, the reason why I have doubts is because Ward, you have a guy that sometimes can be a very calculated defensive fighter who wins on survival tactics. I think once he gets hit by Sergey, all that talk of him going on the inside and fighting, it’s all going to change. Once a fighter gets hurt, especially a guy like Ward who’s defensive minded, he tends to go back to what works best for him and that’s being defensive. I’m hoping that it’s a great fight, if Ward gets hit with a good shot, his instincts and those defensive mechanisms, they’re going to keep him right in place and he might get knocked out.
Jenna J: A lot of people compare Andre Ward to Floyd Mayweather in terms of the way they fight and trying not to take any damage in the ring. What comparisons do you make between the two of them?
John David Jackson: For me, I don’t see them that way because you can compare them in that they are both safety first boxers, but Floyd is a little more smooth as opposed to the way Ward does it. For me when people say that you’re kind of dissing Ward. Ward has his own style, no one else does it the way he does it, it’s a style that works for him. I would not tell any fighter to try it because a lot of times he leave himself open, but he is very smart in the way he uses it, basically he is a different fighter. Floyd has his way, Andre Ward has his way, but to me they’re still different even though, they both try and be evasive.
Jenna J: You as a trainer, you know what you expect from Kovalev, but of course there are things you don’t want to see. What mistakes do you think Kovalev could make that would cause him to come up short against Ward?
John David Jackson: Number one, following Andre around the ring, not cutting it off making him him engage with you. Standing right in the pocket and letting Ward use that good stiff jab and not moving your head. Ward is good, he faints you, he might faint you once and faint you twice, then he figures out how you react to his faints and he goes and capitalizes on it. You got to keep Andre busy, not just busy, but think about what he wants to do and do it to him. He has that type of style makes you think, you got to keep him busy and make him think.
Jenna J: A lot of people were surprised by the way Sergey out-boxed Bernard Hopkins. Could we see a situation where people are surprised again and Kovalev out-boxes Ward?
John David Jackson: I think you can, because if he can do it the way it needs to be done, he’s gonna shock a lot of people. If you’re a boxer, you’re more used to guys that are pressuring you, if I start boxing, you’re really not used to that, it throws you off your game. So Sergey has that capability, can he do it that night, that remains to be seen, do I hope it works that night? Yes I do. Let’s see what happens.
Jenna J: In closing, what kind of event can boxing fans expect Saturday night?
John David Jackson: I’m hoping that they get a fight that we talk about for the ages, but like I told you earlier, I think once Ward gets hit he’s gonna hold on. When a man gets hit, especially in that ring and he gets hurt, he’s not going to stand there all day long. Andre is a very good defensive fighter, so once he gets hit he will go back to doing what he does best and that is being defensive, so now that I said that to you, I hope it’s not the case. I hope he stands by his guns and surprises everybody and makes it a hard fight, because that would be the best thing for the fans, because then someone is gonna get knocked out.