One Night in Cardiff: When “Krusher” Kovalev came to town and all hell broke loose

Ten years ago, on August 17, 2013, Gary Buckland, Ovill McKenzie, and Nathan Cleverly were defeated by Stephen Smith, Enzo Maccarinelli, and Sergey Kovalev in what was considered one of the most brutal nights of fights in British boxing history. Now, a decade later, Smith, Maccarinelli, trainers Joe Gallagher and John David Jackson, and promoter Frank Warren reflect on that unforgettable night.

Frank Warren recalls that Nathan Cleverly had expressed a desire to fight Sergey Kovalev. Despite Kovalev’s reputation as a tough opponent, Cleverly believed in his abilities. Warren and Dean Powell, Cleverly’s trainer, warned him not to underestimate Kovalev. However, Cleverly persisted and begged for the fight to be made. John David Jackson, Kovalev’s trainer, admits that Cleverly was underestimating Kovalev, who was just starting to make a name for himself at that time. Joe Gallagher, Smith’s trainer, acknowledges that Kovalev had an outstanding amateur career and came with a formidable knockout reputation.

Enzo Maccarinelli remembers seeing Kovalev at the weigh-in and noticing his cold demeanor. On the other hand, Cleverly was enjoying a homecoming experience with the crowd’s support. Warren explains that there was a noticeable change in Cleverly’s demeanor during the weigh-in, reflecting a loss of confidence.

Stephen Smith discusses his strategy for his fight against Gary Buckland. He had been working on countering Buckland’s aggressive jabs with an uppercut. Smith remembers the moment when he landed a flush uppercut on Buckland, instantly knowing that it would be a knockout. Despite his victory, Smith’s concern for Buckland’s well-being overshadowed his celebration.

Maccarinelli talks about his own fight against Ovill McKenzie. He recalls feeling the pressure to win after a difficult year, including personal loss and a failed drug test. Maccarinelli decided to go all out and try to knock McKenzie out. With only thirty seconds left in the eleventh round, Maccarinelli saw an opportunity to strike and delivered a decisive uppercut. He remembers feeling a mix of emotions, including vindication and thoughts of his late father.

In the end, everyone reflects on the significance of that night’s fights, acknowledging the toughness and skill of their opponents. The memories and emotions from that night still resonate with those involved.

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