"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Weekend One - Two: Wearing New Pajamas, Sergey Kovalev Eyes New Trainer

What's My Motivation Here?

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Earlier this week a video began making the rounds on Twitter and Youtube. In this video the former strength and conditioning coach of the recently dethroned Sergey Kovalev talks very openly about the training habits of his ex-charge as well as some of his attitudes and the reasons Kovalev has looked so flat as of late. Although nothing revealed in the video really comes as a surprise, especially to boxing insiders, it's a doleful look into the mind of a supremely talented prize fighter who not only pridefully operates as a lone wolf in training but one that has lost a great deal of his motivation as well. It appears as though the once ferocious in ring destroyer has traded in his passion and work ethic for some very expensive silk pajamas.

Signs Of Trouble

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Some will point to his fights against Andre Ward as the point in his career where Sergey Kovalev's skills began to erode and another very small and vacuous group of fans will note that the Russian was exposed in these fights. Both camps are woefully wrong, especially the latter of the two. It's not father time that defeated Kovalev in his two most recent bouts nor did Ward pull back the proverbial curtain on the former champion, exposing him as crude puncher devoid of skill. Instead we learned in both of these bouts that Kovalev is his own worst enemy. Be it pride, wealth, complacency, or perhaps all of the aforementioned, Sergey Kovalev appears to be yet another boxer that can't get and stay out of his own way. Moreover there were hints of trouble before he ever stepped into the ring against Andre Ward. In his fight against Isaac Chilemba, Sergey Kovalev looked far less aggressive, effective, and passionate than he ever had before. The ferocious killer and finisher we had seen in every fight preceding the Chilemba bout had seemingly disappeared overnight and gave way to a boxer that was evidently content in listlessly boxing his way to a decision. Post fight, the majority of boxing's media and the Main Events PR machine gave Chilemba all the credit citing that "he's a tough out for anyone." This writer saw a different fighter in Kovalev during that fight, not a tougher than usual or awkward opponent in Chilemba, especially for a fighter of Kovalev's ilk.

If you follow boxing regularly for even a short period of time you'll see history repeat itself quite frequently. Countless fighters have lost their fire and desire once they become financially comfortable. Hell, this isn't even an exclusive tale to boxing. It happens across all types of careers and to people from all walks of life. Complacency is a wicked bedfellow that can ruin a career and smother the fire that drives an individual forward. In the case of Sergey Kovalev he's not only sleeping in silk pajamas but he's also someone who seems mulish in his approach to training and fighting. Being a lone wolf and having confidence in oneself isn't necessarily a bad thing but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. It's a well known fact that Abel Sanchez, trainer of Terry Norris and Gennady Golovkin, recognized a high level of skill and talent in Kovalev before dismissing him from his gym in Big Bear, noting very professionally that Sergey isn't necessarily a team player.

Shopping A New Trainer

Along with the video that hit the internet earlier this week, it was also reported that Kovalev is considering a move to another weight class and is interested in working with Virgil Hunter. Talk about pouring gasoline onto a fire that's already burning out of control....wow. Let's forget for a moment that outside of Andre Ward, Virgil Hunter has had zero success in the sport. Let's also forget that Hunter comes from a background working with troubled youths and that training boxers grew out of that line of work. What we must not be dismissive of however is the fact that Hunter emphasizes defense and a more passive style of boxing in his training. Sergey Kovalev is a fundamentally sound boxer-puncher who, until he became complacent, crafted himself one hell of a career by using his power. athleticism, and offensive mastery. Although its never the first thing people think of when they think of Kovalev his defensive game is indeed solid. Sergey Kovalev doesn't need a new trainer and Virgil Hunter certainly isn't going to do him or his career any favors. What Sergey Kovalev needs can't be found in anyone but Sergey Kovalev. Whether or not "The Krusher" is still inside of Kovalev remains to be seen but working with Hunter can only exacerbate the troubles he is having nor will it get him out of his new pajamas and back into his boxing trunks.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

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