Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion
I studied French in school for six years but I remember nothing because I wasn’t interested in this language; my time was spent learning English. It will be big action for Saturday night. I love to be here and I am glad to be here in Canada. I am expecting a lot of fans because I was here in November 2013.
Saturday night will be two best boxers of light heavyweight division facing each other. Jean Pascal is tough boxer and Saturday I will see how tough. I am not going say any prediction. This is boxing, anything can happen with a fight. For me this fight is very interesting because it is next step in my career, the next test in my career. For myself I want to prove who I am on this level, in front in this huge arena, in my first time fighting in huge arena like this. I am very happy and waiting for Saturday. Thank you so much.
[On comments by John David Jackson about Jean Pascal] I don’t know because I didn’t read what John said. It is his opinion. It will be me fighting in the ring on Saturday. What John sees is his vision. My vision is mine and may be different. I didn’t watch very many Pascal fights. I understand his style. I only watch a couple rounds of my opponents. I don’t spend much time watching fights of my opponents. If John thinks it is true, I believe him.
[On not fighting in front of his home crowd in Russia] This is a huge arena for me. This is something new for me. I love experiencing something new in my career. I love travelling the world to fight. If my job lets me travel and get victory, then it is good for me. It makes me happy. It is big motivation for me because a lot of people will be watching this fight. I am now responsible for three titles and it pushes me to work harder. I would like to fight in Russia but I don’t know when the opportunity will happen.
[On not taking easier fights] We are Russian, we are ready for anything. We are ready to make good fights. It is interesting fight. If I look for easy opponents, it will not be interesting for anyone. Who is the best right now in this division? We will find this out Saturday.
Jean Pascal, former light heavyweight champion
It will be a great fight. I have 15 trainers because I am a general and I have an army behind me. Kovalev doesn’t like to talk and lets his trainer do the talking. John David Jackson doesn’t have to get in the ring with me. Sergey does. He needs to man up and talk for himself. I am a general. I’m not a follower. I am a wolf, not a sheep.
In hockey, Russian players do well during the regular season and then not do well in the play-offs. So I think that, like those hockey players, Kovalev will not be able to perform the same on Saturday night against me as he has in the past against other fighters. Nobody should take me lightly.
[On comments he made to the press about knocking Sergey out] I said the best scenario is to give the fans 12 good rounds and then try to knock him out in the last 15 seconds of the fight.
I will give 110% on Saturday night but I cannot predict the future. This is like game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to win. I’ve got balls and big ones and you will see them on Saturday night.
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events
We are so happy to be here in boxing-crazy Quebec. This fight is exactly what boxing is supposed to be: the two best fighters who are willing to fight each other. That is what this promotion is about: The very best against each other. Jean Bedard and his team have created a market that is the model for other promotions. It is going be hard to go into opposite sides of the ring from Interbox on Saturday night. I want to thank HBO and Peter Nelson for having the vision to see what we saw in Sergey Kovalev. This is exactly the kind of thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. This is going to be an amazing event and I am privileged to be able to watch it live.
I am so relieved that this fight is not going to be between John David Jackson and Jean Pascal’s 15 trainers. It is not about the money for Sergey. It is not about the fact that he had to come here. He wants to make everyone who watches this fight into his fans. I am going to make the prediction that he will do that.
This has been a wonderful experience so far. Thank you to Interbox and thanks Jean Pascal for being a man for taking this fight.
Jean Bedard, President of Interbox
I want to thank our friends from HBO who have put their trust in us to deliver a great product. We intend to work with them in the future to bring many more great events to Canada. It has also been a pleasure working with Main Events and Kathy Duva. This sets the stage for what will be exciting times ahead in boxing. Interbox is optimistic about the future. Thanks to Jean Pascal and Sergey Kovalev for making this fight happen.
John David Jackson, Trainer to Sergey Kovalev
It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for allowing us to be here. I thought I retired from boxing. In this business, this is what we do. There is a lot of hostility from Team Pascal. I said a few things and it got a rise out of Team Pascal, so I did my job. We got under his skin so we did what we needed to do. He needs to back up all his talk on Saturday night.
[On his comments in the press] I am not going to back down on what I said. It is not about me. They have to fight on Saturday night, not me. I am glad they showed the weakness of their mentality. I said what I said and they reacted the way they did so I’m glad.
[On finding sparring partners for Sergey] It is always hard because Sergey is Sergey. In the ring he is all business. We aren’t going to find someone who fights just like Pascal to spar with. That is what boxing is about; a true fighter is going to find what he has to do to be victorious. Sergey is well prepared for Saturday night.
Egis Klimas, Manager of Sergey Kovalev
What a great city, Montreal. What nice people. It is a big pleasure to be here. I want to thank Interbox. I want to thank Main Events, our promoter, and HBO for bringing us here to Montreal. It is a pleasure to represent Sergey Kovalev. He came in 2009 to the United States. He put his career into my hands. I was 100% trusted by him. We had a long and interesting run to get here. He is proud to have three belts. I want to thank him for putting me in the situation that I am in today. I don’t know who talks but Sergey Kovalev does not like to talk and neither do I. I have big respect for Pascal for taking this fight. He could have taken an easier fight. He is a tough fighter. He is not a puncher. Don’t miss it on Saturday night. Be here or watch on television because it is going to be a great fight.
Marc Ramsay, Jean Pascal’s trainer
On my way to the Centre Bell, someone asked me if I was starting to get nervous. This is why we do what we do; we want to live these challenges. We don’t have the pressure to fight on the road, to defend an undefeated record like Kovalev does. This is a no-lose situation for us. For the last ten weeks we have studied Kovalev. We have a profile of him and I have a lot of respect for Mr. Kovalev. They know how to conduct themselves inside and outside of the ring. I have coached Pascal since he was 14 years old. I lead him to the national team and Olympic Games. I lead him to the world championship. It is easy to take a fighter who is already built up and do something with him. It is a different to work someone from the beginning. Until then, you [points to John David Jackson] should be quiet.
To me Sergey Kovalev is a solid classic boxer. It isn’t hard to analyze him. He is best opponent he have ever faced.
Roy Jones Jr., Jean Pascal’s Assistant Trainer
Thank you. It is an honor and a pleasure to be here. It is always great to be here and back working with HBO. It is a great crew of people here. Boxing is an egotistical sport. It says a lot about Marc [Ramsay] that he reached out to me to assist with Pascal’s training. He is open-minded because he is willing to ask for anything that Jean needs to help get him a victory. I would like to thank everyone for coming out for this. It is so great to see two of the top guys facing each other. That is what we live for. I can’t wait until Saturday night. I look forward to a great fight.
Peter Nelson, Vice President of Programming HBO Sports
Thank you. This is a great fight. We couldn’t be more excited and thrilled to be back in Montreal. We want to thank Kathy for bringing Sergey to us. We are a platform which provides the fans the fights that they want to see. Whenever the best fight the best the sport wins. The winner of this fight will benefit from their legacy. These fighters care more about their legacies than their earnings. Sergey Kovalev has proven that over and over again by telling us he will fight anyone. I want to thank Interbox and Main Events. We look forward to a tremendous fight on Saturday. Also Glazkov vs. Cunningham and Chilemba vs. Lepikhin are two incredible fights to make this a tremendous triple header.
Russ Anber, Assistant trainer to Jean Pascal
Kovalev, we welcome you here. We know you are a monster. We know what we are up against. Win or lose Sergey is going to be in the fight of his life on Saturday night. Which also puts Jean in the fight of his life. Sergey may be the most dangerous light heavyweight in the division in years. For both guys this is going to be an early contender for fight of the year. This is going to be the biggest fight ever to be held in this city. That is a fact.
[In response to John David Jackson’s comments] In defense of Marc Ramsay we are small unit of trainers. For someone turn around and try to discredit and be that disrespectful is uncalled for. Sergey understands what it means to develop as a fighter. He knows what that brings to the table. Not everyone is lucky to have a Sergey Kovalev fall in our laps like Jackson was.
Robert Schinke, Pascal’s Sports Psychologist
We are very excited about this fight. We don’t take it lightly. I have worked with Jean since he was 16 years old. In the psychological preparation for this fight, Jean Pascal he needs to be focused. He should not peak Saturday morning. We also needed to understand the opponent in front of us, the athlete and his coaches, their history and patterns. We are fully prepared.
Sergey Kovalev, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion
I am waiting for March 14. This day for me mean a lot. This is the first time defending two of my titles. I am sure it will be a really great boxing date on HBO.
Pascal will be the hugest opponent in my career. I fought top guys.
[On common opponents Darnell Boone and Bernard Hopkins] Any fight is different because opponents are different on different dates. I can win somebody very easy but then can be very hard for somebody else.
Pascal had problems with Hopkins but I beat him easy. It depends on the situation. It will be interesting what will happen March 14. Jean Pascal will see a problem.
[On his next fight] My plan is, first of all, to defend my three titles against Pascal. It is the most important thing in my career for now. After the fight, my goal is to get all four titles in my division.
[On the pressure to secure the knockout] I am going into the ring for my next victory. Knockout or decision doesn’t matter as long as I get the victory. Sure I am going to get my next victory. How it will happen, nobody knows. I am not speculating in the future what will happen. It just so happens that I stop my opponents early. Jean Pascal is my hugest challenger. This fight can be 12 rounds again. We can get score decision. Anything can happen. If it will be KO, it will be good for me. I am going to ring to show how I can do boxing. I want to see the result of my preparations.
[On the Hopkins fight] I am not going to say what I should do against Pascal. I have some strategy for the fight with Hopkins. Bernard Hopkins fooled me and made counter-attack. I felt this and I did what I came to do. It looked very smart.
[On the birth of his son] Thank you for your congrats. I am in training camp and they are home. We talk through the Skype and the phone for 5-10 minutes in the morning and at night after his bath before he goes to sleep. I don’t want him to forget how I look. After this fight I will see my family and hug and kiss them.
[On Adonis Stevenson] I don’t care who I fight next. My next fight against Pascal on March 14. That is the only thing I am thinking about right now. I am not thinking about anyone else.
Jean Pascal, Former light heavyweight world champion
This fight is going to be a great, classic fight of the best against the best. Sergey thinks he is the best. I think I am the best. It is going to be a big night in Montreal. It is like Rocky IV. East versus the West. I am a huge underdog. The odds are four to one against me and I am going to be the black Balboa. The fans need to show up for this epic night. I think Sergey deserves way more money and I am very glad I am giving him this opportunity.
[On his long layoff] I don’t think it is going to affect me. I have been in this game for 18 years. I am not scared about the public. I am going to give 100%. I am going to be sharp. I have taken nine months layoff to hone my skills. I am going to be well-prepared.
[On the common opponent in Hopkins] Sergey had a great fight against Bernard. In my mind I won both fights against Hopkins. Earlier in my career I defeated Darnell Boone. I whooped him and it took Kovalev two fights to defeat him. He has been dropped twice but I have never been knocked down in my career. That is why I am calling for an epic night on March 14.
[On Sergey’s fight with Hopkins] Kovalev did a great job against Hopkins. Nobody is perfect. Everybody has flaws. He showed that he can go 12 rounds. He is a great boxer. I am a man that loves challenges and Kovalev is a great challenge for me.
[On Adonis Stevenson] Right now I am focusing on Sergey Kovalev. He is my opponent.
[On Lucian Bute fight] Before the Hopkins fight everyone thought Sergey was only a power puncher. We know now that he can box. We know that I can bang as well. That is why this is a terrific fight. Kovalev is a power puncher and I have never been knocked down in my life.
[On achieving greatness] Definitely in my country after this fight I will be recognized as the best ever in Canada. Every fight that I lost was a close fight, even though in my mind I won those fights. After March 14, I will be the best ever in my country and then I will go after the world.
John David Jackson, Trainer of Sergey Kovalev
[On Sergey’s preparation] Every fight is different. Preparation is always different. Certain things we are doing will prepare us for Jean Pascal.
[On Pascal] You can take Pascal lightly. Sergey prepares for every fighter differently. All the belts are important to Sergey. Pascal is a very good fighter. He has good power. We can’t take him lightly. We are looking at Pascal as a good fighter with good skills. Pascal’s style is different. He is not one-dimensional. He throws punches from different angles. He doesn’t have defense. He is herky-jerky. He is unconventional. Sergey has to dissect him slowly. Sergey needs to do what he does best. Sergey isn’t a one-punch fighter. He throws combinations and does everything well. Rocky was a movie. This isn’t a movie. This is a real life. He has to do it. We can’t take him lightly. We are training for the fighter that he is. Sergey is a tremendous fighter. His power is unreal. He has great boxing skills. I don’t try to get him to fight the way I fought. I want him to fight his way. His defense is great. There are a lot of skills he has that he hasn’t had to use yet. No one thought he could go 12 rounds and then he went 12 rounds against Hopkins. I don’t try to make them like me. I want them to determine for themselves what they are comfortable with. In order to be a good fighter you have to have a style that works for you. I just let Sergey do his things.
Marc Ramsey, Trainer to Jean Pascal
We do two weeks in Montreal, four weeks in Las Vegas and now we are in Big Bear. When you fight someone with the quality of Kovalev you need to step up your training camp. We have done that for this fight.
Greg Leon, CEO of Jean Pascal Promotions
[On what’s next for the winner] Nadjib Mohammedi has stepped aside to allow this fight to happen and he will be the [IBF’s] mandatory opponent for the winner.
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events
This is a terrific fight. Sergey always wants to test his skills against the best. He gets to do that on March 14. Jean Pascal is a warrior. We also have a terrific undercard.
Jean Bedard, President of Interbox
This will be an epic fight between two of the best fighters in the division. We can already feel the excitement in Canada. Jean Pascal is always ready for a challenge. The Russian will not give up his title easily, but Pascal is up for the challenge. This is going to be one of the most exciting cards I have seen in a long time. This promises to be a memorable evening in Canadian boxing history.
[About ticket sales] They are going very well. We started just before Christmas. We had a great day of sales yesterday and we are estimating about 12,000 fans. We are expecting good sales in the remaining three weeks before the fight. We look forward to a good turnout on March 14. We will see if we need a different configuration. The experience on TV is getting better and better. Sometimes people prefer to watch from home than open up the upper seats at the Bell Centre. We will have a very good crowd. It will depend on the next three weeks. We are very confident that it will be a very nice crowd on March 14.
About Kovalev vs. Pascal
Kovalev vs. Pascal is a 12-round fight for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship Titles. The fight will be televised as part of a live triple header on HBO World Championship Boxing® on March 14, 2015 from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Tickets are on sale now at the Bell Centre ticket office, at www.evenko.ca, by telephone at 1-855-310-2525 or through Club de Boxe Champion (514-376-0980). This event is a co-promotion of Main Events and InterBox, presented by Vidéotron in association with Mise-O-Jeu.
Road to Kovalev-Pascal premieres this Saturday night, February 28, at 12:15 a.m. ET/PT on HBO.