Kovalev Trainer John David Jackson Talks Why No KO of Hopkins

Did he think it would go like that? Nah, John David Jackson admits he’s like us, to a point, that he didn’t see his guy Sergey Kovalev pitching shutout ball against the Alien, winning all 12 rounds like he did.

“Thought maybe he’d win nine of twelve,” said the ex 154 and 160 pound champ, who retired from the ring in 1999, told me on Wednesday.

I was curious, did he derive personal satisfaction as he saw Hopkins, who dogged him pretty good in the leadup to the bout, and at the final presser before fightnight especially, get the L? No, JDJ told me, “It didn’t do anything for me like that. I was satisfied that the game-plan worked. Sort of made me look like a genius,” he said, chuckling. “But am I on the top of the world? I definitely am in that I think I will get the credit I deserve as a trainer. I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but…It was satisfying, that the pace plan worked. They might start listening to me!” He chuckled, then added, seriously, explaining why his satisfaction was limited, “But no, I didn’t beat Hopkins up.”

Yes, that gameplan..I’d say masterful. I told JDJ, a Florida resident, married with five kids, three older, two of them nearing the college years, I didn’t hear one single soul say pre-fight that a slow pace, a “Hopkins” pace, would be beneficial to Kovalev.

But that pace, as prescribed by Jackson, was indeed useful to Kovalev, who was able to go the distance, pace himself, keep the distance he wanted from a master at in-close defense, at clinch-y methods of defusing.

“Sergey was too strong for Bernard. He’s a crafty old man,” he said… but his strength, in punching, bodily, couldn’t match the younger man.

Thus, JDJ and I agreed, Hopkins knew clinching wouldn’t benefit him. That would mean he would have to get closer to Kovalev than was advisable and in a grappling contest, he had to know that would be an energy sapper. “Yes, Hopkins’ body language was, keep moving,” the trainer told me.

Now, that Kovalev didn’t seem to really crave a stoppage, didn’t really ever throw himself maniacally into a place where he looked like he NEEDED to stop the youngest old man in sports: what about that?

Did JDJ ever get even mildly frustrated that Kovalev wasn’t looking to do what it looked like maybe he could, if he went all in?

Nope, no frustration, the trainer told me. They talked about it after, and Kovalev told him he hurt his right hand a bit, from landing high on the head of Hopkins, and that affected him some. Also, his respect for Hopkins impacted him. “Sergey told me he didn’t want to KO him. He wanted him to go out with dignity. He gave the man the respect he deserves. He thought, why knock him out, give him the dignity he deserves. He hurt him, in that twelfth round, and felt that was enough. A twelve round shutout, that was satisfying enough.”

Fair enough. Totally admirable. But…that was the kind thing to do…but does kindness have a place in the prizefighting ring? Didn’t he leave an opening for the crafty old dog to launch a nasty bite, a Hail Mary launch?

“The next fight, it won’t be an old man (he respects like that),” he said, acknowledging that this pocket of mercy was a one time occurrence.

Check back for more from JDJ, including on what he thinks Sergey would do next, and how he’d do against guys like Andre Ward, and Adonis Stevenson.

Follow Woods on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

COMMENTS

-DaveB :

Like hell he didn't try to knock him out. Who does this guy think he is fooling? The last part of the 12th round was an all out assault. I was glad Hopkins survived it. Refs have stopped fights for a lot less but Hopkins didn't appear truly hurt. Those punches looked bad but I think head turning punches are a lot worse. I like Kovalev but I have to wonder how it would have been if Hopkins was his equal in power.


-the Roast :

Like hell he didn't try to knock him out. Who does this guy think he is fooling? The last part of the 12th round was an all out assault. I was glad Hopkins survived it. Refs have stopped fights for a lot less but Hopkins didn't appear truly hurt. Those punches looked bad but I think head turning punches are a lot worse. I like Kovalev but I have to wonder how it would have been if Hopkins was his equal in power.
I agree BS. If you get the chance to take somebody out then you take them out. In any sport. Step on that throat. You can't risk that player or that team or that fighter coming back. Kovalev would have loved to get that KO. The wily vet just slipped out of that 12th round.


-BFF :

i honestly believe the krusher had way too much respect for the old man except for the 12th round when bhop taunted him then i knew he wanted to take him out, but i do think he just wanted to show everyone he can box, and that he did, and some.


-brownsugar :

What Kovalev provided was a benevolent beat down of Bhop.. One that he will remember with bittersweet and involuntary reluctance every time he wants to get back into the ring. You could see the respect and admiration Kovalev had.... An emotion he rarely if ever shows his opponents .... But he was also able to mentally separate Bhop the ICON from Bhop the fighter. Kovalev beat him in every aspect of the game and then turned up the heat in the last round to show that he could have decapitated the man at any time if he had wanted to ......which is why there was nothing but sweet contentment and blissful homage on display by Bhop after the fight instead of a vitriolic demand for a rematch. Bhop is fully aware of the honor that was accorded him .. There was no need to make a public acknowledgement.... His classy post fight comments would suffice. If this fight had taken place 16 or 20 years ago perhaps the outcome could have been different. But that's all the solace Bhop can allow himself and still remain within a mentally healthy mindset.


-The Shadow :

Like hell he didn't try to knock him out. Who does this guy think he is fooling? The last part of the 12th round was an all out assault. I was glad Hopkins survived it. Refs have stopped fights for a lot less but Hopkins didn't appear truly hurt. Those punches looked bad but I think head turning punches are a lot worse. I like Kovalev but I have to wonder how it would have been if Hopkins was his equal in power.
Thanks, Dave. Go out with dignity? Such bullsh*t. He ain't fooling nobody. I hope. Kovalev tried to end Hopkins with everything he had in him and anyone who thinks otherwise "don't know sh*t about boxing," as the Black Mamba would say. Listen, there's a reason guys don't go all out with punches. I mean, come on. Really? At that level, you have to be smart with your punch selection or you will get KNOCKED THE **** OUT. Sergey Kovalev's legs BUCKLED in the 10th round from a hard right hand, did the Amir Khan two-step. Look like he was doing the Shmoney Dance at speed 8x. Kovalev knew he had to be intelligent with his assault, which he was. Smart, smart fighter with almost Lennox Lewise like timing and anticipation, just tremendous. And the 12th was as bad a pasting as I've seen Hopkins take. Took it easy on Hopkins? Nick Ashford must think people are stupid.


-amayseng :

Thanks, Dave. Go out with dignity? Such bullsh*t. He ain't fooling nobody. I hope. Kovalev tried to end Hopkins with everything he had in him and anyone who thinks otherwise "don't know sh*t about boxing," as the Black Mamba would say. Listen, there's a reason guys don't go all out with punches. I mean, come on. Really? At that level, you have to be smart with your punch selection or you will get KNOCKED THE **** OUT. Sergey Kovalev's legs BUCKLED in the 10th round from a hard right hand, did the Amir Khan two-step. Look like he was doing the Shmoney Dance at speed 8x. Kovalev knew he had to be intelligent with his assault, which he was. Smart, smart fighter with almost Lennox Lewise like timing and anticipation, just tremendous. And the 12th was as bad a pasting as I've seen Hopkins take. Took it easy on Hopkins? Nick Ashford must think people are stupid.
Agreed my friend


-The Shadow :

What Kovalev provided was a benevolent beat down of Bhop.. One that he will remember with bittersweet and involuntary reluctance every time he wants to get back into the ring. You could see the respect and admiration Kovalev had.... An emotion he rarely if ever shows his opponents .... But he was also able to mentally separate Bhop the ICON from Bhop the fighter. Kovalev beat him in every aspect of the game and then turned up the heat in the last round to show that he could have decapitated the man at any time if he had wanted to ......which is why there was nothing but sweet contentment and blissful homage on display by Bhop after the fight instead of a vitriolic demand for a rematch. Bhop is fully aware of the honor that was accorded him .. There was no need to make a public acknowledgement.... His classy post fight comments would suffice. If this fight had taken place 16 or 20 years ago perhaps the outcome could have been different. But that's all the solace Bhop can allow himself and still remain within a mentally healthy mindset.
Coming from you, I can respect what you say but I also respectfully disagree. That said, I'm in no position to call you out on anything you say since you utterly owned me, Radam and many others with your pre-fight analysis. That aside, I don't think he turned on the heat. Hopkins will discourage (as in limit) your offense with his hard counter shots. I have little doubt that is what we saw. Look in the middle of round 10. Like another comment remarked, when you have a guy hurt, you take him out. I think Hopkins was magnanimous because he knew he had been soundly defeated at his own game. Like Roy Jones said, "Kovalev better be careful. Hopkins' like a wounded animal." And he was. But Kovalev is a tremendous fighter. I'm kinda beating a dead horse here, but he's a mart fighter, underrated speed, anticipation, smarts, no foolish pride or bravery. He's even a showboater -- a peacock, I believe Radam calls it? -- but he knows when and when not to do it. He only did that hump-the-air move that he likes once, tentatively at that, because he knew the seriousness of the task. Very well disciplined fighter. On a different note, I think we're starting to see the product of the Soviet/East bloc amateur system coincide with the decline of the American one. Like Roy Jones said, the 1976, 1984, 1988 teams all hoarded medals like greedy trick and treaters on Halloween. Nowadays, the latest US gold medalist is Andre Ward. With Vasyl Lomachenko coming up, GGG terrorizing people -- and I have to think that GGG is an even bigger beast than we thought, given how he was better than Kovalev just a few years ago -- Kovalev and, of course, the heavyweight champ Klitschko, the Soviet strikers are going to make serious noise going forward. They better start doing something with the US amateur program. I was watching Ron Lyle and George Foreman earlier, noticing subtle things and skills that today's fighters just don't have. Even in a fight like that that looked totally devoid of skill, they probably displayed way more skill than many of today's guys do. What do you think, considering you came up as an amateur (and almost faced off with Evan Fields)?


-The Shadow :

Check out this awesome feature with superb analysis from TSS' own Frank Lotierzo:
->http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/magazine/bernard-hopkins-boxings-oldest-and-most-cunning-champion.html?_r=1 Great quote from Bernard: “If you don’t know your own value, somebody will tell you your value, and it’ll be less than you’re worth.”


-DaveB :

Another thing is that I think Kovalev was trying to pace himself. If he spent himself early trying to get the knock out but didn't, I'm sure he figured he would have played into Hopkins' hands. What he did was smart. It reminds me of when Chavez fought Sergio Martinez and that all out assault that came in the 12th round. Of course Chavez was getting beat down for 11 1/2 rounds but once again with not much time left here he comes. One other thing I have to say is that there was no dishonor in picking Hopkins to win that fight. I'm not eating crow or putting my head between my legs. Sergey was an unknown quantity that fought better than we figured he might. He blunted Hopkins strategy and implemented his own beautifully. What happened Saturday night was what was supposed to happen. But what is supposed to happen doesn't always happen in boxing. Those that called it wrong have nothing to be a shamed of and those who called it right shouldn't be beating their chests. Hopkins has left the emperor without clothes many times, this time he didn't. Those who picked against him made a good call and are to be congratulated for sure but it was a good educated guess plain and simple.