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From Ringside: Kovalev in good spirits after return victory

Sergey Kovalev is saying the right things and seems something of a changed man.

Sergey Kovalev v Vyacheslav Shabranskyy Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The past is history, the future a mystery, that was kinda sorta the message from Sergey Kovalev given in his post-fight press conference Saturday night/Sunday morning at the Madison Square Garden Theater, after he mugged Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in an attack that harkened back to the bad old days on New York City.

It was a mean mugging by the Russian, which had his promoter Kathy Duva in fine spirits.

“Krusher is back,” you saw by that attack, was her take.

Shabranskyy, we do wonder if we see him glove up again. Being stopped out by Sullivan Barrera and now Kovalev in a one year span might have him and family searching for a less brain traumatic way to make ends meet.

The press, as they are wont to do, focused on matters sensational and on the near horizon, more than what just played out before our eyes. Was camp this time smoother without John David Jackson, and with Abror Tursunpulatov being the tutor tasked with oversight and instruction?

“Jackson didn’t give me anything. He was like a passenger. But now I’m like a passenger…driver is Abror,” he said, pointing at his coach, who speaks no English.

He is on board with Abror, basically one hundred percent, and if there’s something he doesn’t get or agree with, they will talk it out, he said.

Kovalev also said that he kinda sorta trained himself, in that he brought forth things he learned as an amateur, because Jackson didn’t come to the table armed with tricks of the trade. He wanted to tell the world that it wasn’t working, and he also implied he wanted to boot Jackson earlier, but didn’t, because he didn’t have a replacement in mind.

The presser went into TMZ territory when Kovalev was asked about his drinking. He said him and Jackson had beers together a couple times. On Sunday evenings only, or at a BBQ.

“He say right now I drank every day, OK, if I was drunk every day for three years, I was champion. I was drunk champion of the years. It was good for me,” he said, chuckling hard.

Back to the present, briefly.

“I saw big open space (for his right hand),” Kovalev said, after I asked what were some of the new things he brought to the table after working a few months with the new trainer.

I noted he ripped filthy rights to the body of Shabranskyy. He told us that he felt Shabrasnkyy being hurt by both hands from round one, and he switched “my plan worked” to “our plan worked” as he relayed how he succeeded in being a patient predator.

He spent a full minute thanking fans for sticking with him, for believing he could bounce back from two losses, again, an indication that he has grown. I heard humility from him, not blanket and across the board, but he seems to see this as more of a team effort than before. He even gave Ward props, for doing prep right, for staying in shape in between fights, for example.

Kathy Duva, though, admitted she was happy that Ward retired. Watching him fight is like eating peas, she said. Nutritionally sound, but not a bit thrilling. That crack drew chuckles.

To solving mysteries, such as who he will be fighting next year. What about WBA 175 champ Dmitriy Bivol, who was present at MSG, and was humble and patient as he took press queries before first bell? He’s talented, Kovalev said, and Kovalev versus Bivol would be “an interesting fight in the future.”

More on that: manager Egis Klimas with an edge told media to please stop asking Kovalev who he wants to fight.

“Please stop asking me the same question again and again and again,” he said, when Kovalev was asked who he wanted to scrap with. (It’s actually a compliment, Egis! Better we care than we don’t! Not sure why this irked him so. Oh yeah, Egis also shut down a reporter asking about his guy Vasyl Lomachenko, who fights December 9 at MSG versus Guillermo Rigondeaux. This is a Kovalev press conference, he stated.)

Kovalev said that actually wanted to box longer, get work in, go 5-6 rounds, but he wasn’t disappointed that it ended early. He just will do more work in the gym.

One tidbit — Kathy Duva said Marcus Browne, the Staten Island standout, turned this fight down.

Also, Kovalev said he could see fighting three or four more years. “Yes, I’m ready” for a third fight with Andre Ward if he un-retires.

My three cents: “Krusher” is back. We will see if “KRUSHER” is back when he meets a Beterbiev or a Bivol, perhaps. But yes, I get the sense that it ain’t PR BS, Kovalev did indeed take something positive from back to back losses, and for now, has cut back on the out of camp fun-stuff, and is apparently eating clean as well.

So, I’m looking forward to the guy getting those callouts from the young guns that Duva referred to, and seeing if this revitalized vet can have a successful third professional act.

Overall, Yuriorkis Gamboa played it too cute in his fight with Jason Sosa, and Felix Valera was not in must-win mode versus Sullivan Barrera, so bad luck to have two similar styles of desire in the ring take up two of six televised slots.

But at least Kovalev gave the people what they wanted: structured violence, and an earlier exit time to the bars or the bed.

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