The loss to Andre Ward was a severe one in more ways than one for Sergey Kovalev, since the first time the two fighters met, the Russian has gone 2-2 in contests, two losses both of which came via knockout, not to mention his rollercoaster of a personal life away from the squared circle.
Court Cases, drinking excessively, a car crash and a retreat to a monastery on Greece’s Mount Athos was what followed all of which shows the eratic behavavior of the man known to boxing fans as ‘Krusher’.
Ward quite rightly despised Kovalev in the run up to his first fight with the champion of the time making racist remarks and a general unprofessionalism being the order of the day, making the win over him that much more satisfying.
Today if you asked Ward his opinion regarding Kovalev, a change in stance has been applied, It’s more of a feeling of sympathy than hatred “Whether you think I won or lost the fight, he faded, He faded mentally, and he faded physically. There’s no reason Andre Ward, a 168-pound fighter, should have been in that fight after getting knocked down. It should never have even gone to the cards. And the fact that it did, it broke him.”
it’s a fair assessment given the fact that the rematch seemingly witnessed him quit before eventually getting stopped, the fall from grace was complete enough to throw him into a spin of excessive drinking as he slipped into depression whilst there were also rumours that he crashed his Mercedes going 90mph into a forrest.
It was the act of surviving the accident that brought a renewed faith to find God, his next move was perhaps the most quizzical as all luxuries were put aside to go on a pilgrimage to a monastery on Greece’s Mount Athos, known to Orthodox Christians as the Holy Mountain.
Coming down off the mountain, temporarily finding peace that the veil of invinsibility had been torn, he decided changes needed to be made with longtime trainer John David Jackson who was at this point long gone and Abror Tursunpulatov was chosen to take the reigns.
Tursunpulatov had previously made a name for himself from his time with the Russian amateur team, giving the impression that everything was back on course as he run through the challenges of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Igor Mikhalkin in winning back one of his three titles, the WBO light heavyweight crown.
Next up was the Colombian Eleider Alvarez who came into the bout unbeaten with a couple of notable names on his resume of Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, both of whom had long since expired in terms of championship quality. The prediction beforehand was that the bout would be a competive encounter but that Kovalev would emerge victorious.
Like a peep into a magic ball the bout took the same course with Kovalev appearing to edge the judges scorecards until not for the first time vulnerability reared its head, enought for Alvarez who is not readily known as a puncher was able to take full advantage of the mental lapse in securing one of the years biggest upsets with a stoppage win.
“I overtrained myself again,” he said, referring to the Ward fight. “… I pushed myself, and nobody was around me who stopped me. … I didn’t get the recovery days, and this killed me. … I didn’t have power to fight at all. … I was empty.”
Excuse after excuse rolled off the tongue of the beaten champion a trait which Kovalev had become accustomed to providing.
Again trouble returned like a bad habit that he was unable to kick, Kovalev found himself embroiled in a court case for alledgedly punching a woman. Whilst there are claims that have found evidence of a possible shakedown, its another story which doesn’t shock as he was released on $50,000 bail pending a possible further sentencing.
Another loss, another altercation, another trainer, this time it was the Russian trainer that found his way through the exit door, replaced with Buddy McGirt who has been credited with prolonging the career of the late Arturo Gatti.
McGirt relishes the job at hand “He knows he has to make certain adjustments,” McGirt said. “He understands now that not everyone’s going to go when you hit them. If he has to go 12 rounds, he’ll be ready.”
He will need to be because standing across from him Eleider Alvarez will be looking to catch lightening in a bottle twice, I doubt very much that will happen in regards to producing another knockout but he will however be the favourite of the two when they step back through the ropes on Saturday night.
The question remains, Does the Krusher still have enough to get the job done or is he about to find out that bully’s never prosper?
Andre Ward when asked may sound like he still holds contempt for Kovalev but that couldnt be further from the truth, he’s moved past it which is more than can be said of Kovalev.
“Like most bullies in the history of the sport, he’s the real deal. He won his titles on the road. But he’s used to guys being afraid of him, and that’s a problem.
“A reputation will get you a world title, keep a title for a while, even make you rich but once that aura is pierced by a guy like Andre Ward — or even Eleider Alvarez, it’s the beginning of the end”
“Alvarez is not a better fighter than Sergey Kovalev,” Ward said. “But he’s got heart. He’s got momentum. And he’s emboldened.”
“He can win this fight,” Ward said of Kovalev “But I don’t think he will.”