UPDATE: I checked in with trainer Abel Sanchez, to get the lowdown on his new guy, Nadjib Mohammedi. Honest Abel told me this isn’t some bid that we should call Project Takedown Kovalev. No sir. “My project is to make Nadjib another champion,” he told me. “I wish Kovalev all the success possible, as long as he doesn’t interfere with my project!”
For the record, Sanchez trained Sergey for eight fights…
Sanchez said he likes Mo’s building blocks and that, “I just need time to convert him to my type of fighter! He’s very strong, he just doesn’t know how to use it…yet.”
And is it a balance issue, or weight transfer or…?
“No, it’s delivery, timing, technique and momentum,” Sanchez explained. “He is experienced and is not caught up in being undefeated. He is willing to learn and to give me time to make him unbeatable!”
Boxing is home to characters, capital C types, but because the red light district of sports boasts such an array of weird, wild, wonderful and eccentric souls, we must be careful not to overuse the ‘C’ word.
I feel confident employing it when I describe Vince Caruso, the American advisor to IBF No. 1 light heavyweight contender Nadjib Mohammedi, the hitter who scored a second KO (2:16 elapsed) and is hoping to snag a crack against IBF light heavy champ Sergey Kovalev, on whose undercard he toiled on Nov. 8.
Caruso, a Jersey boy who lives in Arizona, is best known in fight circles for his association with Marco Antonio Barrera, being a proponent of THC therapy, Eazy-E’s legacy and his predictions on sporting outcomes, which I’ve found tend to be pretty darned solid. I chatted with him Monday and he told me that Mohammedi is making some waves with a new training hire. It seems that Mo is going to be working with Abel Sanchez, the tutor responsible for refining the style ond skills of the Bieber-faced banger Gennady Golovkin, the Good Boy with the Rude Fists.
Caruso let me in on how that pairing came about…
Basically, Frenchman/pop star Jon Ali advises Mo, his bestie for 15 years, and Ali and Caruso hit it off when Mo beat a man who was working with Caruso, Anatoliy Dudchenko, this summer.
Caruso was impressed with the work ethic and humility of Mo and his team, which he told me contrasted with Dudchenko’s attitude pre and post fight in a cruddy outing. They stayed in touch and Ali reached out to Caruso when Mo’s trainer was denied entry into America before the Nov. 8 Mohammedi bout in AC. Caruso came to the rescue; he asked Sanchez, who’d be in Jersey repping contender Sullivan Barrera, if he’d consider cornering Mo.
“I’ve known Abel twenty years,” Caruso said to TSS. Sanchez liked what he saw of Mo in AC, as his aggressive attitude is what Sanchez preaches.
Caruso sat down with Ali and the 36-3 (22 KOs) Mo after the bout, and they all talked about how to get to that next level. What if Sanchez were added to the mix full-time, and Mo could get some new skills? He’d been with his trainer since he was a teen, so some new blood could be a breakthrough concept. Plus, how bout this…Sanchez trained Kovalev for awhile, before John David Jackson, and they parted ways, and guess what, wouldn’t Sanchez have some superior insight into what strategies and techniques might be most effective in downing the Russian ace who showed Bernard Hopkins that there is no such thing as agelessness on Nov. 8.
“Nadjib did his thing, won the fight, and Abel said come to (the Summit Gym) in California. Last Monday, we loaded up the car, went to Big Bear, stayed the night, sat down, had a business meeting for a half hour,” Caruso said. They were all on the same page…So the plan is to start training in January, and help refine the strong and aggressive Mohammedi.
“Nadjib don’t go backwards,” Caruso said. “He has the heart of a lion, the strength of a bull. He needs some technique. But he fights like a Latino! He’s a bomber!” In other words, perfect for the likes of Sanchez, who wants closers. A fight with Kovalev could be easy or difficult…now it’ll be easier. “As they say in pro wrestling, you can’t fake gravity, you can’t fake his punch. But he’s not going to win of he doesn’t refine his skills.” The power, Caruso, reiterates, is considerable. He said Sanchez told him his forearm was buzzing after holding pads for Mo in warming up before the Nov. 8 fight. Like, buzzing in a badarse way, in the way it does when a certified bomber smashes pads. Caruso was pretty much rubbing his hands together in glee thinking about the work Mo will get in camps with Barrera, and yes, Gennady Golovkin, Sanchez’ prize pupil.
Caruso says promoter Kathy Duva and Team Mo will likely look to start hashing out a plan for next maybe late December or in January. “They will talk and then Jon and Nadjib will ask for my advice,” Caruso told me. “They will be letting Kathy know they want no more Demetrius Walkers, even if it is a non-title match, we want bigger names.. We want credibility. How about guys like Ryan Coyne, or Marcus Oliverira? We don’t even want a Gabriel Campillo. We don’t want a guy with more than two losses, really. If Mikkel Kessler were fighting we’d do that. I think Mo can wipe out seventy five percent of the guys at 175 right now. How about Seanie Monaghan, if they’d take that?”
Me, I love the enthusiasm Caruso has when he takes on a fighter. It is refreshing, and I think, it can be a difference maker for a fighter who could use some ego boosting. And I will say, the Sanchez-Kovalev angle makes a Kovalev-Mohammedi about three times more intriguing than it might otherwise be.