Miami, FL: On March 14 Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) will compete in his first title defense as Unified WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion against former lineal light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Kovalev completed the first half of his preparations in Big Bear Lake, CA then moved to Miami, FL where he is finishing training camp with his trainer, John David Jackson.
Coming off of his big win against Bernard Hopkins on November 8, some expected Kovalev to take on an easier opponent than Jean Pascal, a former champion who has never been knocked down in his pro career. Sergey, however, does not look for easy fights. He prefers a challenge. When asked what makes Pascal a dangerous opponent, Sergey said, “His power and crazy style of boxing.” Sergey is also excited to return to Quebec, where he knocked out Ismayl Sillakh in his first WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship defense in 2013. He said, “I’m very glad to fight in Canada again because I like Canadian fans and country too. Canada remember me of Russian winter weather.”
This fight against Pascal will be a different test for Kovalev than Hopkins. According to Jackson, “Pascal is more of a herky-jerky type of fighter. Bernard was smoother in his approach. He was also more calculating in his risk. Pascal takes his chances because he punches without really looking at his target. He presents a different problem in the ring but it really isn’t a big problem as long as Sergey sticks to the task at hand. He needs to box him and set traps for Pascal to get caught in. Pascal throws punches with his head down and he is not even looking at his opponent. He is a little more surprising than Bernard; he can throw punches from any angle in hopes of landing that shot to hurt you.”
In the first real test of his championship reign, Krusher pulled off a stellar unanimous decision victory over Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins in Atlantic City in November of 2014 and added the WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship belts to his collection. Although Kovalev dethroned a ring legend, he was very humble about the victory. He said, “My life didn’t change after the Hopkins fight. I just got responsible for defending more titles now!” Sergey refuses to look back, adding, “I already forgot about Hopkins. I have to focus on this fight. It’s already past. Now I need to go forward.”
Going forward means providing for his growing family. Shortly before the fight with Hopkins, Sergey’s wife, Natalia, gave birth to their first child, Aleksandr. Sergey was not present at the birth of his son and did not meet him until he returned home after the Hopkins fight. For this training camp, he is separated from his young child again but, according to John David Jackson’s assistant trainer, Derik Santos, “Sergey always says this is a sacrifice, but it is for his family.”
Jackson added, “Now that Sergey is a father I think it is harder for him to be away from his family for training camp. He is a brand new father, this is his first child, and that weighs on him a little bit. He is a professional, however, and he is able to separate his feelings from the task at hand. He knows he needs to concentrate on camp. It may be tough on him but he doesn’t let it show. He just goes about his business of getting ready for this fight.”
Now that he is the unified champion, there are more demands on his time and additional scrutiny, but the Krusher is not fazed. According to John, “Slowly but surely it is beginning to sink in that he is a super star fighter. He is still humble to a degree where a lot of that stuff doesn’t bother him. He is not an attention whore and he doesn’t need all that attention on him like a lot of other fighters would.”