Boxing


Emanuel Steward: “Right now there is not any middleweight I would favor over Andy Lee, including Sergio Martinez”

manny stewardby Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who is currently training Miguel Cotto for his June 5 fight against WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman. Steward is also currently working with unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and middleweight contender Andy Lee, who scored a second round technical knockout against Mamadou Thiam last weekend. Here is what Emanuel had to say on a variety of subjects:

On how long before he believes Andy Lee will be ready to face an elite level middleweight:
“Believe it or not I have a meeting this week with someone actually related to Pound for Pound fights, so maybe within the next six months—a world title fight. He’s ready for a title fight it’s just that it’s been so hard to get a major fight with anybody. Even the fight with (Brian) Vera, it was a very tough fight. A good fight, he was ahead on the points, scored a knockdown, and just went all out trying to finish the guy got exhausted himself. So it wasn’t like he was dominated or beaten up soundly or whatever. It was a good fight and it’s been very difficult to get quality fights, to be honest with you, in the whole middleweight division today. It’s very bad. It’s probably about the least attractive of all the major divisions right now. (Kelly) Pavlik is gone, (Arthur) Abraham is gone, and we got a new champion and I don’t know what he’s going to do—whether (Sergio) Martinez is going to stay at middleweight or junior middleweight. He might fight as a junior middleweight because that’s where it seems the money is with the junior middleweights and the welterweights. In this division I told him (Lee) he could possibly be a star if he could get a title fight..



On how he believes Andy Lee has improves since the loss to Brian Vera:
“First of all, no excuses—we never complained about the stoppage, and didn’t say ‘Oh well, he had survived the storm and he even actually landed a punch as the referee stopped it’, meaning Andy. Andy never complained and I didn’t complain. He came to that fight very weak. He had a very bad cold to the degree that he only weighed 158. He’s never been that light. He couldn’t train for about four days, but he wouldn’t cancel the fight and I wouldn’t cancel. He said it was his American TV debut and he refused to cancel. So it was a mistake we made when I gambled on, and I gambled and we almost had him but we lost. In all sports people lose. You’re only as good as your last performance, but it wasn’t a disgraceful loss where he was outclassed. At the time he was very exhausted and cut and Vera, who I spoke to since then, said if that if the fight had went another thirty/forty seconds he might have been stopped. He said, ‘I was totally exhausted and I was just backing away myself and Andy was still coming at me’, but regardless of that he lost. We learned from that in the next fight, which people said I was crazy putting him with Willie Gibbs—a very tough fighter, and he had Gibbs hurt in the second round I think, but he paced himself, never got too excited, and I think he stopped Gibbs in the final round which was the tenth round. But he learned from the experience of going all out. Sometimes when you have an opponent hurt, in particular a guy like Vera who when you would hit him, because his balance was so bad, that also he would be falling and you would think he was hurt because of bad balance. So he learned how to pace himself and look for longer fights in case it goes, so we learned from that experience, too. I’ve since offered Vera ten times what he got from that fight and he has turned us down, so it’s something where we’ve just decided to move on.”

On whether he would be interested in having Andy Lee face the winner of Chavez-Duddy:
“We would welcome that. So easy, we look at that as an easy fight for Andy, either one of those, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. Right now there is not any middleweight I would favor over Andy, including Martinez.”

On Miguel Cotto’s preparations for his June 5 fight against Yuri Foreman:
“The preparations are going very good. He’s doing more than I expected. I thought he would have a rough time of adjusting from the head bent down elbows out type style and changing it to my style which is more of a balance style. The first thing I teach is balance, balance, even distribution of weight, and a left jab. So he’s doing extremely well and he’s been boxing ten-twelve rounds and not even getting exhausted. We’re mainly working on a lot of good balance moves. The biggest problem in this fight for me is Yuri is such a good fighter himself. It’s not so much just what Miguel is doing, but Yuri Foreman is a very underappreciated fighter. I think his talent, his boxing skills, and his speed is totally unappreciated, and therefore I had told Miguel that when I went to Las Vegas recently for the (Floyd) Mayweather fight with (Shane) Mosley I was talking with Sugar Ray Leonard. He said, ‘Steward, that’s one fighter that I would never have wanted to fight, even in prime’, I said, ‘I know’. Yuri Foreman’s going to be a very difficult fight for anyone.”

On what he saw in Cotto’s last fight with Manny Pacquiao that makes him believe he can improve Miguel as a fighter:
“Well I thought that Miguel was fighting way bending down too low. I mean, Manny Pacquiao is about 5’6” but actually if you look, he was taller when they were actually boxing. He was bending his head down so far and his feet were so far apart that he was not able to put combinations together because of the bad balance that he gradually drifted into. Actually, when he was hurt I think around the fourth round after doing very well in those first few rounds mainly with his left jab, but he couldn’t put combinations together because of his bad balance and when he was hurt the first time he said he never saw the punch, I think it was an uppercut type punch, because he was bending down so low with his hands in a position where he couldn’t see punches coming up underneath. The second time when he was hurt again it was from a punch again when he was bending down too low, it was on the side of his head. So I saw then that his problem was bending down too low. He’s 5’7” or 5’8” but he fights, and I actually stopped one of the workouts and showed him. I said, ‘When you’re fighting let me show you how low you have your head—you’re 4’11. That’s how low you have your head down and your natural movements are not going to happen because you’re in such an awkward position.’ So that’s what we worked on him—moving around with his weight evenly balanced because originally in his career when he first started out he was a beautiful boxer-puncher.”

On whether he believes it’s too soon following the Pacquiao loss for Cotto to jump up in weight and face a champion of Yuri Foreman’s caliber:
“Well, I’ll be very honest with you—the match was made before I got involved so I had no choice. I’ve always had a great amount of respect for Miguel as a fan. In most all of his fights I saw he’s always been one of my favorites. He’s been in so many very physical grueling fights. I mean I’m going back to 140 in his fight with (Ricardo) Torres, I remember the same night when Wladimir Klitschko was fighting Sam Peter. Now that fight was drama with Wladimir down three times, but I don’t know, when you look back at the Torres fight earlier, because I was in the dressing room it’s like, ‘Oh my God! Torres is in trouble, Miguel is about to finish him, and then all of a sudden nope, nope. Cotto is down himself. You come back and that Cotto’s coming back’. That fight, and the fights that he has with Zab Judah, even though he won the fight he took a lot of punishment, the (Antonio) Margarito fight, even the close fight with Shane Mosley, Pacquiao—he’s had a lot of tough fights, and I think the reason that the fans like him so much and me myself, he never, never has been a complainer. Even the Margarito fight, he could have complained about the hand wraps afterwards, he said, ‘It was my fault, we didn’t check the wraps, I have no complaints’, and those type of qualities is what made me respect him a lot. Coming in to training for this fight, yes, I would have myself preferred he adjusted to the weight a little bit gradually with someone other than a very big physical fighter or a very super fast talented guy like Yuri Foreman, but it is what it is and from here on in I just have to do what I can. But I’ve had to do this before with (Evander) Holyfield in his second fight with Riddick Bowe which to me was almost impossible in every way but we were fortunate to win. This is an extremely tough assignment here. The weight division, as you said, after campaigning most of his career at 140 and then go to 154 with an undefeated super fast talented fighter and after coming off of so many really tough fights but today a lot of fighters, once they made those big super fights they really don’t seem to get up for anything but big fights and that may be the situation here. We’re just going to be prepared and do the best we can and I’m feeling very confident about the way he’s looking, but regardless of what or who in any era, Yuri Foreman would have been a difficult opponent.”

On whether he believes Manny Pacquiao would be a more spirited competitor against Floyd Mayweather than Mosley was:
“Definitely, you know that with Manny and I think that’s another reason that makes that so appealing. What I was looking for and most of the fans, nobody necessarily favored Mosley to win, but most people I think expected a much more highly spirited competitive energetic type fight from him. Floyd shut him done, but nevertheless, I just thought even in the second round he still seemed jittery and a little insecure and I think it goes back to the interview the night before. With Manny Pacquiao the public knows, even though a lot of them think Mayweather will win, they still feel that he would finally be getting that challenge the way that Hearns, Duran, Leonard, and Hagler those guys fought each other because everyone is still looking for that type of a challenge for Floyd. I think the fight will happen. I think the fact that it’s not a fight that necessarily the managers, the promoters, or the fighters want. The fans have made the fight. When they demand a fight like that the way they did for the first Hearns-Leonard fight. The fight has to be made.”

His evaluation of Tomasz Adamek’s impressive victory over Chris Arreola and whether or not he would consider Adamek as a possible opponent for Wladimir Klitschko if they are unable to secure a fight with David Haye:
“I would definitely say that. I was so, so surprised and impressed with Adamek’s performance. I mean he boxed well. I never saw him box so beautiful, and he took the blows when he had to from a big heavy handed guy and just beat him out in every way. He outboxed him and out-gutted him in California, in a place where he had never been to. I was just really impressed. Right now when you look at the big shortage of appealing heavyweights I think after David Haye that would be the next best fight that people would want to see with Wladimir. I definitely want to see him with someone that’s fast. There are so many slow lumbering heavyweights out there and nobody has one punch punching power to me but Haye and Wladimir Klitschko. Vitali never knocks people out with one punch, really, but Wladimir has that extremely explosive one punch punching power and David Haye has it and they both have suspect chins and both are going to explosive early so I think that’s the dream fight, but after that, I think just off of that last performance of Tomasz Adamek, he’s definitely the next guy that the public would want to see and I as a fan would want to see fight Wladimir Klitschko.”

On the reported negotiations that are taking place between the Klitschko and Haye camps:
“Well, I haven’t spoke to Wladimir. He text me after Andy Lee’s fight Saturday and said to say congratulations to Andy, but I don’t know, I’ll be speaking to him in the next few days but I know that’s the fight that he wants very badly and I think next to the Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather fight, that’s going to be one of the most appealing fights for our sport. It would be a good heavyweight fight. We need one, and that’s the only one. It’s not like there’s a variety of them, it’s really that one and after that would be with Adamek, but still, Adamek just really broke into the scene. Haye and Klitschko would have a tremendous big international flavor and the fact that both guys have verbally been going at it now for nearly two years. I think the fight will take place because I don’t think anyone wants to see Haye run off and fight Valuev again or Holyfield or all these other crazy things that’s been mentioned. He’s the one that started the verbal attack and then when Wladimir stepped up to him and called him out he’s become extremely quiet now. I mean his manager and trainer do the talking. He doesn’t even speak any more. I know that he’s got second thoughts about the fight but I think the fact that he’s out there and he started it and Wladimir now has now stepped it up and started verbally abusing him, the fight will take place.”

***

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Article posted on 21.05.2010



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