New trainer Buddy McGirt is tipped to be Sergey Kovalev’s secret weapon when he goes for revenge against WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion Eleider Alvarez in Frisco, Texas on Saturday 2nd February.
He was dramatically knocked out in seven rounds by Alvarez last August when he attempted to defend the same title and looks to regain his crown in the make-or-break return clash, live on BoxNation.
Kovalev is believed to be a prickly character and difficult to train. He dumped long time trainer John David Jackson after his second loss to Andre Ward in June 2017, with his invincibility as a wrecking machine in tatters.
Fellow Russian Abror Tursunpulatov took over, but has paid the price for the defeat against Alvarez in a fight Kovalev was winning on points.
Sergey’s manager Egis Klimas explained: ”We had been talking for a long time about trainers. When Arturo Gatti lost to Oscar de la Hoya, everybody was talking about how, 'Arturo Gatti is done. He should retire.’
“But then Buddy McGirt and Teddy Cruz came into the picture, and Gatti was able to extend his career for another five years. Main Events was promoting Gatti, and Kathy Duva (Kovalev’s promoter) brought up Buddy's name to us.
“I talked to Sergey about it and he liked the idea. We tried it, and it looks like it's working very well. That's how it started,” he continued.
“Against Alvarez, Sergey got tired. He over-trained and left everything in the gym, and it's not the first time. He didn't have a good conditioning coach and he didn't know when to stop.
“With his other trainers, Sergey was listening, but he wasn't hearing. With Buddy, he's listening and hearing.”
McGirt was promoted by Duva’s late husband Dan Duva, so the link up with her stable star was ideal.
McGirt said: ”The thing with Sergey that I noticed in sparring, he gets sharp quick. He's a guy that doesn't need seven weeks of sparring. He just needs the right amount of time.
“I studied Sergey for the first three weeks. I studied everything – I learned that from the old timers. Then you start to see how he reacts to things and you say, 'Okay, now this is what he likes to do, this is what he don't like to do.’
“Then you take them and you put them together and see what kind of soup you come up with.”
"You hear stories about people, but to me, he's a nice guy and he's willing to learn. You can tell a guy something, but if you show them, I think you get more results.”