Hall of Fame fighter-turned-trainer Buddy McGirt is largely responsible for the revival of Sergey Kovalev’s career that has seen the Russian rebound after a crushing KO loss to Eleider Alvarez in 2018 to go on and score back-to-back wins this year that’s put him on the path to fight Canelo Alvarez on Saturday.
McGirt, 55, is confident in his WBO light heavyweight champion even though Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) is listed as the underdog in Alvarez’s 175-pound debut.
“A big win like this change’s Sergey’s entire life, and I’ll be happy for him because he put in the work,” McGirt told BoxingScene.com. “I always wanted to learn and be better and teach that to others. To me, every fight is a big fight because it’s about the fighter, not myself. We’re going to detour from deep waters.”
The deep waters that McGirt mentioned refers to a potential punishing body attack that Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) is planning to deliver.
McGirt said that much like Kovalev kept his mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde on the outside with his superior jab in their August affair, he will have to do much of the same to fend off the four-inches-shorter Alvarez whenever he tries to move inside to target the solar plexus.
“I’m passing on little stuff, nothing major, but enough to get the job done,” said McGirt, noting that he is reteaching some of the old-yet-successful tools that Kovalev had learned to neglect throughout the years.
McGirt said he’s not concerned about Kovalev’s conditioning or propensity to take a punch to the ribs, which was his kryptonite in losses to Andre Ward, and for a moment, against Yarde that led him to deep waters that forced McGirt to threaten a stop to the fight in between rounds.
McGirt believes that a strong jab will be the answer to the 29-year-old Alvarez’s attack.
“He would say, ‘Buddy, I’m the Krusher.’ I say, ‘we’re going to be the smart Krusher now.’” said McGirt. “If he felt tired, he’ll ask for a day off. I know that he’s 36, not 26. You have to keep the super unleaded in him, and press the foot on the gas at the right time.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.