Buddy McGirt believes brains and not brawn will get WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev 34-3-1 (29) over the line against world middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 52-1-2 (35) when they clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night.
The Hall of Famer took over training duties following Kovalev’s shock knockout loss to Eleider Alvarez in August last year. An immediate rematch with Alvarez delivered a unanimous decision victory in February and in August the 36-year-old turned back a spirited challenged from formerly undefeated knockout artist Anthony Yarde, stopping him in the 11th frame.
While Kovalev will have a marked size advantage over 29-year-old Mexican superstar Alvarez, McGirt insists the Russian veteran will be relying on skill rather than size to get the victory.
“This is my plan, to not go in thinking we’re the bigger guy, the stronger guy,” McGirt said to The Grueling Truth. “Our plan is to go in and be the better guy.”
When Kovalev split from trainer John David Jackson rumours were rife that he was difficult to work with.
Not so, says McGirt.
“His attitude was the exact opposite of what I was told,” said McGirt.
“His attitude was he took the blame for his loss (to Alvarez). He didn’t blame nobody. Most fighters they blame the trainer, they blame everybody. But he took full responsibility for his loss.
“He said ‘there’s some things I need to do, just tell me what you think’. Two days later he sent me one of his amateur fights. He was smart, he was using his jab, instead of knocking everybody out.
“He said, ‘I got away from what got me here’. He said, ‘I’m known as the Krusher’. I said, ‘you can be known as the smart Krusher. You can still be the Krusher but be smart about it’.”
Kovalev, who will be having his 17th straight world title bout, is equally enthusiastic about his new team.
“From the last fight I had just a small rest, like three weeks, three to four weeks, and I’m ready,” Kovalev said to the media this week.
“I’m back again to training camp. Now it’s really, really good under control with Buddy McGirt and Teddy Cruz. Right now, I’m feeling good.
“I have a great team with great coaches – Buddy McGirt and Teddy Cruz – and right now I’m feeling really comfortable with my team. I’m really happy that I found this coach.”