By Keith Idec
FRISCO, Texas – Buddy McGirt stopped watching tapes of upcoming opponents a long time ago.
The veteran trainer didn’t make an exception when he began preparing Sergey Kovalev for his immediate rematch with Eleider Alvarez. McGirt, who recently wrapped up Kovalev’s training camp in Oxnard, California, still hasn’t seen the fight that resulted in Alvarez’s seventh-round knockout August 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Boxers that skip studying footage of their opponents usually leave that task to their trainers. It is uncommon for trainers to avoid watching fight footage if a boxer doesn’t do that, but McGirt firmly believes it’s a waste of time.
“No, I did not watch the first fight,” McGirt said Wednesday before an open workout in Frisco, Texas, where Alvarez and Kovalev will fight again Saturday night. “The night that they fought, I had a fight in [Uniondale] New York. You want to hear something? Whenever I watched tapes of an opponent, as a fighter, I lost. When I watched tapes as a trainer, my fighter lost.
“I watched tape of Meldrick Taylor, and I lost the fight. I don’t need to watch tapes. I’m old school. I prepare for anything and everything. If you watch a tape of a guy, and you see something, then you expect it to happen and you wait all night for it, and it doesn’t. If you get in a street fight you don’t have any tape on the guy. You have to adjust. So that’s what I go by.”
Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, urged Kovalev to hire McGirt, a former welterweight and junior welterweight champion who worked wonders with Arturo Gatti. The late Gatti’s career was considered all but over when the team of McGirt and strength and conditioning coach Teddy Cruz began rejuvenating him late in 2001.
After Alvarez dropped him three times and stopped him, questions arose about the 35-year-old Kovalev’s future. Now that they’ve completed a full training camp together, McGirt is confident Kovalev is prepared to give affirmative answers in their 12-round fight for Alvarez’s WBO light heavyweight title.
“I have watched quite a few Kovalev fights,” said McGirt, who replaced Abror Tursunpulatov as Kovalev’s trainer following his loss to Alvarez. “I have seen enough of him. Things that he told me how he prepared for the fight and what happened during the fight – that was enough for me to understand what we have to do.
“Sergey told me what went wrong in the fight and I just went from there. I had a guy fight Alvarez, Isaac Chilemba. We got jerked in the decision, but it is what it is.”
The Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez edged South Africa’s Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) by majority decision in their 12-rounder three years ago in Quebec City, Canada.
The Alvarez-Kovalev rematch will headline a four-fight offering that’ll begin Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN, before shifting to ESPN+ at midnight ET/9 p.m. PT. Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) and Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) will meet in the main event at Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.