It will all get sorted out in a Las Vegas ring tomorrow, and we shall see if Andre Ward can keep his superlative 20 year winning streak alive or if Russian born smasher Sergey Kovalev can exert a perceived power edge and have Ward wishing he stayed in the super middleweight sphere.
This light heavyweight super fight promotion has been pretty staid in terms of jockeying for mental supremacy on the part of the combatants. Ward is nothing close to being a shit talker and pretty much only Jean Pascal has fueled an edgy response from Kovalev in leadups to bouts.
The promoters haven’t chosen to add fuel to make the anticipatory fires burn higher, though Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events has let it slip to media that Roc Nation and Ward have been, to her thinking, sort of diva-esque with some of their demands and desires.
The trainers, Virgil Hunter for Ward, and John David Jackson for Kovalev, sparred some Wednesday, you could say, during a for-media debate.
Hunter gave us a hint that he’d be stirring the pot a bit when he came on the Everlast podcast “TALKBOX” on Tuesday.
That he did:
“I’m very attuned to body language, I’m very attuned to tone of voice, and from what I hear, from what I see, it’s safe to say that there is a lot of disarray in that camp,” Hunter stated on Wednesday. “What I mean by that is I don’t even know if Coach Jackson is getting the respect he is due in that camp but time will tell. For instance, why do we have to make an excuse for Kovalev in Russia for selling tickets and things. Don’t you have a team who could have taken care of that? You’re supposed to have a team to take care of that to take the pressure off the fighter.”
I reached Jackson on Friday morning and asked him about that. Disarray, then?
“I touched on that and answered it well at the debate,” said the Floridian, who on Monday pivots and joins Bernard Hopkins to oversee his prep for the Dec 17 career finale against Joe Smith. “Basically, we will speak to that when we leave the ring after getting our hands raised tomorrow.”
Jackson, to his immense credit, doesn’t go the BSing route and try to pretend that the sledding is always smooth as silk between the two grown ups. No, both have their ways and means of doing things and manners of communication and cultural imprints through which their interaction is filtered. Kovalev has his concepts of what he thinks will work best against the master nullifier Ward and Jackson has his. The trainer doesn’t try and put his foot down and demand total control. “We work together and I will adjust my game planning and suggestions based on Sergey’s point of view. We don’t always have to be in total agreement. We can have our moments when we differ,” Jackson said. “That’s ok.”
Hunter and Ward are on a father-son wavelength. Check out the podcast for more details on that. Jackson allows that is what it is, but as for “disarray,” he told me, that isn’t the right description of the camp they had, or their relationship.
See which team can claim their methods are superior Saturday (Nov 19), on pay per view, starting at 9 pm ET.
Thanks to David Spagnolo for the faceoff pic, above.