Kovalev Admits Lessons Learned From Ward

Sergey Kovalev admits that he learned an invaluable lesson from rival Andre Ward. Following their two battles in 2017, Kovalev admitted Ward showed him that to remain at the elite level, champions must prepare properly between bouts, even if they have to endure long layoffs.

The 34-year-old Kovalev re-dedicated himself to training after Ward stopped him in the eighth round during their light heavyweight championship rematch June 17th. One step Kovalev took was parting with former trainer John David Jackson and hired Abror Tursunpulatov.

Kovalev’s first fight since his loss to Ward showed the results as the Russian knockout artist performed accordingly by knocking down Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy three times and stopping him in the second round Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“I was a big lesson from the life, not from the Ward,” Kovalev said during a post-fight press conference early Sunday morning.

“Yes, Ward is a great fighter. He showed me how real boxers should be prepared for the fight, not to leave boxing gym even if you have a lot of time between the fights.”

Unlike his last few fights, a more committed Kovalev plans to return to training in less than a month to prepare for his next bout. He is expected to make the first defense of the WBO light heavyweight title he won by beating Shabranskyy on March 3 against an undetermined opponent in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In an exclusive conversation with FIGHT SPORTS, Kovalev said he is aiming for four fights in 2018.

“These losses showed me that I should be more concentrated on my boxing career, not spend time to travel a lot,” Kovalev said.

“I spent a lot of time after the fight going to my hometown, Kopeysk, in Russia. I changed a lot of time zones. It’s not good for [me]. I missed a lot of workouts and just the last fight [against Ward] I started just two months before the fight [getting into] shape. It showed me that it’s not good for boxing.”

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