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John David Jackson: With Russians with Love


John David Jackson will be in the corner of Sergey Kovalev this Saturday night in Wales when Kovalev challenges Nathan Cleverly for his WBO light heavyweight title. In addition to the hard-hitting Russian, Jackson also trains Khabib Allakhverdiev, who holds a version of the WBA 140-pound title, and heavyweight hopeful Magomed Abdusalamov.

This trio is Russian if you haven’t noticed.
And for Jackson, that’s no coincidence.

“I’d say at this stage they’re hungrier,” Jackson said of his Russian clients, “and not to sound negative, I think the American fighters are not as hungry. Some people say it’s because of the others sports; I wouldn’t say that. I just think that the dedication and desire to achieve more for them is not greater than the foreign fighter because they live in America, man, and that’s the greatest place in the world. You’re not really starving if you just do a little bit of work. Where in other countries, if you’re not rich in Russia - you’re poor. The government’s so corrupt, the mob, the mafia; either you’re rich or your poor. And if you’re poor - you’re really poor.”

(We’re pretty sure these words won’t make Jackson welcome to Vladimir Putin and his country anytime soon.)

But he continues, “If you’re homeless in America, you can still eat. You can go out on the corner and get change, get dollars; you can beg. The government will get you something usually. These foreign fighters are hungry. Just right now, these Russian fighters are hungry and they’re incredibly strong and not from - what I’ve experienced - the steroids or whatever these guys take nowadays. Those are just some incredibly strong fighters and it’s a hunger to better themselves for their families and have a better life that right now is making them better fighters, the hungrier fighters.

“Americans are more talented; black American fighters are more talented - but they’re lazy.”
According to Jackson, who, by the way is African-American, “They want that big signing bonus. They want that care. They want all this but they don’t want to work for it.”
Uh, so are they “Al Haymon-ized”?
This brings a laugh from Jackson, who states, “I can’t blame it on him personally. It’s just the way of the world, the way things are in America today compared to before. These European fighters and other countries, they’re just hungry right now.”
Jackson, who during his days, was a respected junior middleweight champion and learned under the likes of George Benton, believes foreign boxers are more coachable than their U.S.-born counterparts.
“Yes, they are,” he states.”Like the heavyweight, Magomed, before his people moved him to California, he wanted to be more like James Toney with his defense, how to be able to avoid a punch with a counter back. And we were working on that. It’s funny; you ask me that question, a lot of guys, they all want to be like Floyd [Mayweather]. Well, only Floyd can fight like Floyd. He’s perfected what he does and he does it to the best of his ability. Those who try and come along and do it, they’re going to get their brains beat out.”
All throughout gyms in America, you see fighters trying to replicate the Mayweather style, down to the way they hit pads with the trainer. You’ve see what happens to guys like Andre Berto, whose sincerest form of flattery has gotten him beat up.
“The mitt routine itself, that’s for show. That’s more of a cardio workout. Floyd’s style is perfected on its own. We can talk about him in a good or bad way but he’s perfected it and it’s worked for him to a degree,” said Jackson, who’s also worked with the likes of Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins in the past. “The problem with boxing today is that there’s no teachers really in this game.”
Before Floyd, boxers tried to imitate the ring stylings of Roy Jones (which led to a generation of fighters who didn’t feel the need to work off the jab and led with hooks as they jumped in and out of the pocket). “Floyd’s the hot fighter right now, so they all want to be like him and they all mimic his style. But listen, it gets a lot of guys hurt. You can’t be like him,” warned Jackson.
So would Jackson rather just train foreign fighters?
“Uh, honestly, that’s pretty much the way I’ve gone,” he says, bluntly.”No, really, about a year-and-a-half ago, I told my friend, ‘Listen, this thing here, it’s getting too crazy. I’m getting tired of training the American guys who are ungrateful. It’s funny; when you’re in the beginning with these guys and you’re starving right along with them like a lot of kids, I would train them. I would take my 10 percent but I would give it back to them - especially when it’s like $2,000, $1,000 - I’d say, ‘Listen, I’m taking it from you but I’m giving it back to you because I want you to get used to paying me my 10-percent’ and so when they make big money, none of them want to pay you.”
That’s the unfortunate reality of this business. While the easy (and oftentimes lazy) storyline centers on fighters who are exploited, there are many boxers who flat-out stiff trainers. Every trainer has or will eventually suffer through this. It’s a rite of passage. You haven’t really been a trainer till a boxer leaves you empty-handed.
“It’s unfortunate; unless you have a fighter that has a manager who will pay you weekly,” explained Jackson. “I’m not in this business to just train you to train you. My services, they cost and if you can’t afford to train with me, I don’t want you. Because as the career starts to move on and you might become a good fighter, now you don’t want to pay at all.”
In about one month, Saul Alvarez will face Mayweather in the year’s most highly anticipated match-up. If Jackson were training “Canelo,” what would be his game plan?
“A guy like Floyd you can’t headhunt because you’re not going to hit his head,” explained Jackson. “He’s not going to let you hit him in the head, so you gotta hit him on his arms. You gotta hit him on his hips. You gotta hit him where you can hit him and beat him down for four, five, six rounds. Me and Eric Gomez [Golden Boy Promotions, matchmaker] were talking. I said, ‘Eric, this kid, ‘Canelo’ that’s going to fight Floyd, you need to bring someone in that’s going to show him how to effectively cut the ring off and beat Floyd up. Not his head but his body.
“He said, ’No, his people got it.’ I said, ‘Listen, God bless them but I guarantee you, if you let Floyd do what he does best, he’s going to beat you apart.’ Can he beat Floyd? Yes, but not unless he has the proper game plan to defeat Floyd.”
My latest offering on features Gennady Golovkin and the difficulties in finding him a suitable opponent for November 2nd on HBO:
Word is that moving up to 168 pounds might be considered if they can’t find a middleweight to step up to the plate.
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
Marcos Maidana tweeted (@ChinoMaidana) that he has inked a deal with adviser Al Haymon and he expects to face Adrien Broner in their first fight together...Still no word on if the bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Brian Vera has actually been rescheduled for September 28th on HBO...What’s going on with Von Miller?...Is there any progress between Time Warner Cable and CBS/Showtime?...I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.

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