Kovalev Swears He’s A Changed Man, The Old Fire Has Returned



Kovalev Swears He’s A Changed Man, The Old Fire Has Returned


The losses to Andre Ward didn’t break me, Sergey Kovalev, a relaxed, and I dare say, fairly fresh faced Sergey Kovalev told media at a pre press conference Q n A on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, three days before his Thanksgiving weekend comeback scrap against Slava Shabranskyy in NYC, and on HBO.

Bent, it sounded like, but no breakage.

“Life showed me I should be more concentrated on my boxing career,” the 34 year old stated. And I looked at his face, and damned if it didn’t look more relaxed, his skin didn’t look better, than I’d been seeing from him at this point before other bouts.

The Russian born boxer spent ample time looking inward after he lost to Ward last year, and then even more so after he got stopped by the Oakland boxer in June. And, he came to realize a few things. One, he didn’t improve sufficiently, or heck, at all, after the first loss. Ward elevated himself after the first fight, and showed that in the rematch. He was here, Kovalev indicated with a hand signal, and I was here, dropping his hand lower.

Then, check out this video to hear Kovalev talk about how the car accident and a spiritual occurrence changed his mindset. Also, how he tells us he didn't drink every day, despite what some rumors are saying.

Another thing…you are what you eat.

He said he thought back to what Bernard Hopkins told him after he bested the wily vet in 2014. You will stay winning as long as you stay sharp mentally, treat your body right, and don’t let the fame change your game. Ah, but it did, Kovalev acknowledged on Wednesday.

That became clear when he had a car accident in July, in Russia, and escaped death. Then, he visited a holy place in Greece, and got wise counsel there. It’s time to get smarter, get professional, get more serious about why he’s on this earth.

And why did he decide to keep fighting? “I don’t know wht I could do besides boxing,” he said, breaking into a wide grin. And he didn’t achieve all his goals, he said. “Next goal this fight and I follow my dreams…you should have dreams to wake early,” he said. And, he implied, he is re-awakened, has a mentality that is along the lines of what he had was he was younger, and hungrier. He’d been coasting somewhat, he told us. Hopkins had warned of it, and damned if the old man hadn’t been right.

Now, he said all the right things, mostly, Wednesday. Nah, he still doesn't dig Ward. He said he didn’t even remember from round two until the final round of their June tango, and nah, he doesn’t now respect Ward, for his skills, because he thinks Andre acted like a jerk at times before their fights. He did allow that Ward in the ring, in his training, acted “very professional.” But “me is not.” That is growth, I do believe…

“I lost my concentration before my fight with Isaac Chilemba (in July 2016),” the Main Events boxer Kovalev said. “I missed a lot of workouts…and everybody saw what this type of life brought to me. Bad fight with Chilemba and two losses to Ward, and life teached me and kicked my ass! Awake…really, like God sent a word to show me how I should continue my boxing career.” Now, he’s bodily and mentally 100% percent, he told us.

Chase Square, Madison Square Garden (David Spagnolo pic)

It sounded great. He look good. But as one old timer said to me as we talked about this comeback…once you have those two losses, it becomes easier to lose. Money is banked…the option to not beat the count which once wasn’t present now is. I’m not sure if Saturday Kovalev will get tested to the point where the option to stay on the mat is there. What say you, readers…you think Kovalev is a “new man,” that he’s restored and re-vitalized? Or do you need to see what he does in the ring to gain definitive proof?

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.