The light heavyweight encounter between Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins is finally here. Hopkins weighed in at 173.5lbs, while Kovalev tipped the scales at 174.5lbs, with both men looking fit and ready to put on a great show for the boxing fans. In the lead up to the event I had a chance to interview Sergey Kovalev’s trainer, John David Jackson to not only talk about the event, but also get his views on the boxing stars that dominate the sport today.
In part 2 of my interview, I get Jackson’s training perspective on Floyd Mayweather Jr. and what he thinks is the game plan to give Floyd his first loss. I also get John’s views on a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao bout and who he thinks Mayweather should fight next. Additionally I get Jackson’s final prediction for how Hopkins-Kovalev will play out from the opening bell to the finish. Here is what John David Jackson had to say.
Jenna J: You being a trainer, you see things a lot of people don’t see. The big question in boxing today is, how do you beat pound for pound star, Floyd Mayweather? When you look at his style and the fighter he is today, how do go about beating Mayweather?
John David Jackson: It’s not an easy task. It would be easy for me to say how to beat him, but once a guy gets in there with him, it’s not as easy. You have to look at the guys that he’s fought recently and some have been successful by pressuring him, so at this stage of his career I’d say pressure, a lot of pressure. Try to cut the ring and make him fight you. That would be the best way to beat Floyd.
Once again, you have to hit him everywhere, don’t aim for the head, hit him in his chest, hit him in his shoulders. He’s older now, he’s been around for a long time in the game, you have to make him pay and you gotta hurt him and make his arms get tired. It’s easier said than done because Floyd is a very intelligent fighter but if you have to fight him, you gotta get in his chest.
Maidana did pretty good in the first fight, he surprised Floyd because he stayed on his chest and made Floyd work. Alvarez, I thought he would be better than he did but if you don’t have the proper teachers to show you how to cut the ring off and fight a guy and make him work harder than he needs to work, then you’re not gonna win this fight.
You need someone that couldn’t care less about Floyd and doesn’t get caught up in the hype. You have to fight him intelligently but you have to be aggressive, you have to be the one who dictates the pace of the fight and make him move more than he wants to because Floyd’s legs are shaky. You gotta watch the fights and look at the legs, you can see the cracks with his legs.
You gotta make Floyd move faster than he wants to move or you gotta keep him on the ropes and you gotta hit him everywhere but his head, don’t even aim for the head because that will come later. He’s vulnerable, Shane Mosley hurt him, he’s been rocked a couple of times.
You gotta hit him everywhere but the head, you gotta hit him with kidney shots, you gotta hit him with shots that are illegal but you gotta hit him in certain places when you can get away with it. This is boxing, we’re not here for a dance to walk around each other, so you gotta be dirty.
With a guy like Floyd you gotta be nasty and dirty and you have to use old school tactics which unfortunately in today’s games aren’t being taught. I’m not saying it’s right to do it but this is boxing, this is war, so you gotta do what you gotta do to win to a degree, without seriously injuring a fighter. Fighters aren’t getting taught to fight like that today, so a lot of the art is being lost and a guy like Floyd realizes that.
Jenna J: Mayweather has beat all of his opponents and he’s won most of them with ease, but now fans are getting impatient because they think he should fight Manny Pacquiao. Do you think Mayweather owes it to the fans to fight Manny?
John David Jackson: Honestly I think a lot of the luster with the Manny Pacquiao fight has been knocked off because Floyd’s slipping a little bit and Manny’s been knocked out and has been beaten. The average fan, they’ll probably still buy the fight because it’s still intriguing to them to a degree. Manny’s come back and he’s won so he’s back on the winning side and it makes it interesting.
I don’t know if Floyd’s ducking him recently. In the past they were both kind of wrong and it’s why the fight never happened but now everything’s pointing towards Floyd not wanting to fight for whatever reason, so all the blame is being put on him now. Four years ago it was a fight that everybody wanted to see, it’s a fight that should have been made three or four years ago, now a lot of luster’s been knocked off of it. Is it still an intriguing fight? To a degree yes, but I don’t think most people would care like they once did.
Listen, I hate to say it, but don’t fight Manny, fight Golovkin, he’s a little bit bigger. It’s like Bernard fighting Sergey, let Floyd fight Golovkin. One thing about Golovkin is he’s coming right at you, he’s coming to knock your head off, he’s not afraid of you. He’s just like Sergey, he’s coming right at you to knock your head off.
It would test two things, how much Floyd really has left and can he keep the younger man off of him with his defensive skills? Offensively I don’t think he would be able to keep the kid off of him because he doesn’t punch hard enough, especially at middleweight.
I’m not calling Floyd out and saying, “Fight him,” I’m just saying that’s in an ideal world, that’s a fight that the fans really want to see to see how much Floyd really has left and how great he truly is. It’s not so much Manny, Golovkin would be the guy that would test him at this stage in his career because Manny was a couple of years back. That fight is not really exciting; it doesn’t have the luster it once had.
Jenna J: I want to take things back to the Kovalev fight. From round one to when it ends, what do you expect to happen?
John David Jackson: I expect Bernard to come out very cautious because once you’ve heard about how great a guy can punch and you’re at this stage of your career — Bernard’s not a young guy, he’s not a young lion any longer, he’s old — he has to be calculated with everything he does because the risk is great.
Bernard’s not gonna come out and jump on this kid — if he did, great, that makes a great fight because now he’s gonna leave himself wide open to get clipped by this guy. I think he’s gonna come out and be very cautious, see what this kid has to offer and see what he can get away with. If the fight goes past the third or fourth round, now Bernard is gonna realize what risks he can take and what risks he can get away with and still not get hit by this kid.
If it goes past the first half of six rounds, I look for Bernard to then begin to take more risks. How big of a risk he will take, only he knows what’s left in the tank to take that risk. If you see him for the last few fights, he hasn’t taken great risks. Once he figures his opponents out, then he does what he does best, he hits you with two or three punches maybe.
The first half of the fight Bernard’s gonna be very cautious, very tentative, throwing the right hand when he can. The second half of the fight, he has to now really turn on the gas pedal and see if he can make a fight that he can win on the judges cards.
If it goes quick, it’s definitely Sergey, I don’t see Bernard knocking him out — he can try and he has power, I’m not saying there’s no way he can knock the kid out but the kid can take a great punch and has great determination. He may stagger Sergey, that’s great, anything is possible in boxing. Sergey’s gonna make him fight him either way and that’s what Bernard has to prove that he has something left in the tank. If it goes shorter, it’s definitely Sergey’s way. I look for maybe a sixth round stoppage myself.