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Sergey Kovalev Happy To “Be Following Instructions From Buddy McGirt”

Posted on 10/16/2019

By: Sean Crose

“We’ve addressed those issues.”

So said promoter Kathy Duva on a conference call to promote her fighter, Sergey Kovalev’s, November 2nd light heavyweight title defense against boxing’s biggest attraction, Canelo Alvarez. The Main Event Promotions’ honcho was referring to her fighter’s tendency to lose focus. “He let Ward back in the fight,” Duva said bluntly, referring to one of Kovalev’s two losses to Andre Ward. Now, however, Duva feels that the 34-3-1 Kovalev is beyond such errors – and she largely credits Kovalev’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, for the progress. In a sense, McGirt, a Hall of Famer and cornerman of note, was presented during the call as the secret behind the 37 year old Kovalev’s resurgence as a dominant force.

Photos of Sergey Kovalev during a media workout at The Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, CA on July 26, 2018.

“Right now I have a great team with great coaches,” said Kovalev, who was on the call with Duva and McGirt. “I’m feeling comfortable in my team.” So comfortable that he’s pushing away fear of judge’s well known love for Canelo. “I will be following instructions from Buddy McGirt,” he responded simply when asked if he felt he had to go for a knockout on November 2nd. McGirt himself came across as more than pleased with his fighter’s progress. “I just think they picked the wrong veteran to mess with,” he said of Canelo’s team.

Should Kovalev pull off the upset against Canelo, his relationship with McGirt may reach the esteemed status of Manny Pacquiao’s with trainer Freddie Roach, or Canelo’s with the Reynoso’s. First, however, there’s the matter of Canelo and November 2nd. “I respect Canelo because he goes up two divisions,” Kovalev said. “He’s trying to make his history, but I’m here.” Yet, while Kovalev was quick to recognize Canelo’s attributes, he also added that the generally smaller man is “a guest in my division.” After winning back the WBO title from Eleider Alvarez last February, the Russian doesn’t intend to take a step back.

There were a few awkward moments on the call. For instance, Kovalev seemed to take umbrage when it was suggested he had problems taking shots to the body. “I never lose a fight by body shot,” he said in regards to his second fight with Ward. “It was a low blow!” Kovalev was also asked about the legal trouble he’s found himself in. “The truth of everything hasn’t come out yet,” Duva said on behalf of her fighter, “and we’ll leave it at that.”

Overall, however, the mood among team Kovalev seemed upbeat on Tuesday. It was indicated that Kovalev has returned to the fighter he should be, rather than the knockout artist of lore. McGirt recalled looking at old footage of Kovalev’s fights and telling Kovalev he had to go back to a more scientific style. “He said ‘I’m the Krusher,’” claimed McGirt. “I said now you’ve got to be the smart Krusher.’”

“He’s smarter,” he added of Kovalev, “than people give him credit for.”

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Isaac Chilemba: “I Truly Believe I Am Where I Was Meant To Be”

Posted on 04/28/2016

Isaac Chilemba: “I Truly Believe I Am Where I Was Meant To Be”
By: Sean Crose

“We will find a way for people to see it.”

So said Main Events boss Kathy Duva on Tuesday during a conference call to promote Sergey Kovalev’s July 11th light heavyweight title fight in his native Russia against Isaac Chilemba. “It was hard to find the right partners to work with,” Duva stated in reference to making the fight in Kovalev’s homeland. “That was a lot of work.”


Kovalev’s opponent, the crafty Chilemba was on the call from South Africa to promote the event, as well. Although he was hard to hear at times due to connection problems, he came across as a pleasant, even thoughtful guy. Whether or not he will have what it takes to surprise the world on July 11th, however, remains to be seen.

For his own part, though, the underdog fighter seemed confident. “There’s no such thing as an easy fight,” he said, adding later that “The pressure’s on him (Kovalev). He’s the one fighting at home.” I asked if he felt that getting a fight with Kovalev after losing a controversial decision to Eleider Alvarez last time out shows that wins don’t always matter, even in this era where a perfect record is held in such high regard.

“Yes, he said, adding that “I truly believe I am where I was meant to be.” Chilemba’s famed trainer, Buddy McGirt, concurred. “I believe,” McGirt stated, “that good things come to those who wait.”

Duva herself also had some pointed things to say on the matter. “My job is to make good fights,” she said. “There’s a lot of fighters out there these days who seem to prefer to not take a risk…that’s crazy.” The lionization of having an undefeated record at the expense of challenging oneself is something Duva clearly found puzzling.

“It’s sad that people think that’s extraordinary,” she said.

Although the 24-3-2 Chilemba clearly isn’t afraid to risk having another “L” on his resume, he and his team also appeared confident heading into the fight. “This is one fight where Isaac can pretty much be Isaac,” McGrit said.

Still, the trainer made it clear that no one was going to take it easy. “Personally, I think that the key to victory is to box,” McGirt stated. “Everyone sees Kovalev as a puncher. I don’t see Kovalev as just a puncher. Kovalev can fight.”

“But,” he added. “My guy can fight, as well.”

Duva made it clear that she was pleased to give Chilemba a crack at the title, especially in an era where people are said to avoid the 29-0-1 Kovalev (“We know where they stand,” she said, referring to Adonis Stevenson’s camp). “Issac very much wanted a title shot,” the promoter stated. “He did everything we ever asked him to do.”

Perhaps Chilemba was right when he claimed that ultimately “being a good fighter is what it is about.” Will he be good enough for the Russian terror, though? What’s more will western fans be able to see the fight live when it goes down in Russia? Duva promises they will, one way or another. Referring to HBO possibly not showing the fight, she appeared unperturbed.

“It’s more a matter of logistical issues than anything else,” she stated.

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