JOHN DAVID JACKSON, esteemed trainer of unified light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, believes that Andre Ward’s best years are behind him.

Speaking to the media at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Jackson was complimentary of his pupil’s next opponent but also did not mince words regarding, what he feels, is a great fighter on his way down from the pinnacle of the sport.

“I think he’s passed the plateau, where he was on top, for the last five years,” said Jackson. “He’s on a downward slide. He’s not on a steep decline but he’s going there. If you watch how he was five years ago, he was really smooth. He was really fluid. He doesn’t have the same movement now.”

Injuries and promotional issues kept Ward sidelined for a good portion of the last half-decade. He was dominant against the unknown, untested, and painfully overmatched Alexander Brand in his last fight but, when it was all said and done, failed to knock out a 39-year-old opponent that was barely removed from the club ranks.

“Andre’s a very good fighter,” continued Jackson. “I can’t take anything away from him but this fight here is a little bit more dangerous. Once he gets hit with a good shot, every fighter- I don’t care how good you are and what kind of plan you have- once you get hit by a really good shot, that changes your whole perception of the fight. Now you go back to what you did best. You have to. Your survival instinct takes over.”

Kovalev’s performance against Isaac Chilemba this past summer was as unimpressive as Ward’s bout against Brand, a fact acknowledged by fighter and trainer.

That said, Jackson remains confident that Saturday’s game plan, centered on Kovalev’s aggression and superior punching power, will render a true verdict in Andre Ward’s case for pound-for-pound supremacy.

“(Ward’s) at a point now where he can be caught and if he gets caught by this guy it’s lights out,” attested Jackson.