Emanuel Steward: “I personally don’t think that David Haye has any guts at all when it comes down to fighting the Klitschkos”
by 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 trained and prepared Miguel Cotto for his impressive victory against WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman this past weekend at Yankee Stadium. Steward is also currently working with unified IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Steward talked about Cotto’s victory and his future and also touched on some recent news pertaining to Klitschko and a potential unification showdown against WBA champion David Haye. Here is what Emanuel had to say:
On how he would rate Miguel Cotto’s performance against Yuri Foreman:
“I thought he fought a very good fight. I would give him, I would say out of a ten, probably about a nine and a half, a nine—it was close to a perfect fight. He did everything he was supposed to do and I was very proud of him. To lay out a plan is one thing but to actually execute the plan is a different thing. He fought a very smart fight, was totally relaxed—probably the most relaxed person in the whole arena, and that included me. His jab worked very good, but also I think the fact that he was so comfortable with the fight and with everything that was going on around him—which really surprised me, especially after being in so much drama in his recent fights and his personal life..”
On what he told Cotto after round four when Yuri began having success landing lead right hands:
“The fourth round was probably the best round for Yuri Foreman. I think in the first minute, he landed about three maybe four lead fast right hands and to Miguel’s credit, Miguel adjusted himself. As a matter of fact, I thought he won the last two minutes of the round but nevertheless I gave the round to Foreman because of the three or four effective punches. But actually, Miguel stopped getting hit with the right hand himself. I didn’t even have to speak to him at all about that. When the round ended, it was not even a topic that was brought up in between the rounds because he blocked them by using his left glove one time, and then he started actually parrying them and catching them in his right open glove and throwing a left hook after catching them. So he made the adjustments himself. I didn’t even have to speak to him really after that. I told him to pick up his pace again and get back to the jab, which he was getting away from, and he just said, ‘Okay, no problem’. He went out for the fifth round and went back to being a little busier, so it really wasn’t anything dramatic. It was just like anyone in the course of a long fight and they have a mental lull or relaxation for a minute, and then you make the adjustments and he did it himself without me even speaking to him.
On when Foreman stumbled while back-pedaling and injured his knee:
“Well the whole night, as far as the referee’s actions, was totally confusing to me and that didn’t help matters. Foreman was moving at an extremely, extremely fast pace for the first four rounds. I mean he was going left, right, back and forth and I was kind of surprised, because in his training session, I don’t think there’s ever been anything mentioned about him having any problems with his knees. When he went down I felt bad because it looks like it was going to be a great victory for Miguel that was going to be tainted, and there’s nothing you can do about that. I had a champion of mine, Hilmer Kenty, he ended up with muscle spasms in his legs in a fifteen round title fight around 1980 and he had to go three rounds just laying on the ropes and naturally everybody was going crazy, but nevertheless, it happens in sports. I think the fact that his leg was hurt did really handicap him but regardless of that, I feel that the fight would have ended in the ninth or tenth round, regardless. At the pace that it was going and the direction that the fight was moving in, because systematically Miguel was breaking him down and then when that happened with his leg Miguel actually felt kind of guilty and didn’t really want to punch as he had wanted to. He was punching, but he still came in after the round and was very frustrated. When the towel came in later on and the referee disallowed the towel, I mean, I never saw anything like that. He was just determined to make the fight go on even when the fighter’s corner—and they threw the towel in. There was no question about who threw the towel in—a towel comes flying into the ring with blood. I mean, people don’t go to the fights and tell their wife, ‘Give me a towel out of your purse’ or something like that. His trainer actually told him that he threw it in and he still wouldn’t stop the fight. Someone could have been very seriously hurt in that situation.
Miguel did what he had to do and I think Yuri fought very courageously and did what he had to do and it turned out to be a lot of drama and a lot of it centered referee’s actions more so than just the fighters. But it’s a fight that was one of those unforgettable type fights in many ways, a lot of it because nobody expected Miguel Cotto to come out looking the way that he looked. He was very fresh, he seemed to be very sharp. I liked the exchanges when Yuri, who has very fast hands, would punch—Miguel would meet him with the same speed and accuracy in all of the exchanges and that, to me, was very impressive. He took away Yuri’s rhythm. Yuri was moving very fast, but actually Miguel himself I would give credit to, when we were watching the tapes, he said, ‘Steward, watch—he moves very fast but he doesn’t punch while he’s moving. Like some boxers, like Tommy Hearns’—who he’d been watching tapes—‘Tommy moves and jabs while he’s moving, but he doesn’t do it. He moves, moves, and then when he gets ready to come in, he stops before he punches and that’s when I’ll work the jab on him’. He was very intelligent himself and he analyzed a lot of things and the fight was a lot easier than I expected. I expected a very difficult fight, but Miguel made it very easy. He was very relaxed and very confident throughout the entire preparations and the fight itself.”
On whether he was ever worried that Cotto would revert back to some bad habits and whether he was surprised by how well Cotto made the transition to style adjustments that focused primarily on good balance, a strong jab, and fighting tall:
“I was very concerned that he would resort back to his old ways. It was just amazing that after his second day of training—when you deal with champion fighters I learned that they are all extremely intelligent and aware. I found that out from De La Hoya, Chavez, Holyfield, Lennox, Wladimir, and it’s a certain characteristic of all the champions. They’re very intelligent and once you explain to them what you’re trying to accomplish and what you feel is the problem, they will think about it and actually and almost always the next day they’ll come up with something to add to that. So that was what happened in his case and he listened to me and said, ‘Steward, you don’t have to speak anymore. I understand. I used to box very good like that and when I was an amateur I was a very beautiful boxer and I’ve gotten away from it and I’m going to go back to it. I’m going to do just what I used to do’, and I said, ‘Great’. I can see him in the mirror shadowboxing, working on balance by himself, they said he would be at home in the yard working on just keeping his weight balanced back and forth. So he was the one that really carried it to another level by himself and the never getting hit with punches up between the middle, not that Foreman threw them, but he was very conscientious of his left and jab and jabbing to the left eye, which I told him to work on because Foreman keeps his right hand in position where you can jab over top of his right hand and still land a jab. But Miguel himself is an extremely intelligent fighter and I was very surprised that the things in the gym he would come in and say and start wanting to work on something new, a move or technique, that he himself had been thinking about during the night.
So it was very good chemistry in the camp and he was very comfortable and we still never got away from the patented trademark which was the left hook to the body. Even though we worked on the right hand and jabs, but everything was to move the opponent into position so he can shoot the left hook to the body. He’s a very, very intelligent fighter himself. I have to remember that he had a great amateur career, probably one of the best amateur careers for Puerto Rican boxers, because most of them don’t have very long amateur careers because they are pretty much like the Mexicans. They are pretty much mentally raised towards being professional fighters. So he had a long career I think as a National Champion three or four times and he fought in international matches so he was very well prepared, but what he really did was go back to his basic amateur and early professional style of fighting.”
On whether he would be interested in seeing Cotto have a rematch with Manny Pacquiao and whether he believes Cotto can have more success in a rematch, in particular if it was at 154?
“I think he would have much better success and Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest fighters of all time to me. For quite a few reasons, one, the 145 (pounds) which may not seem that significant but sometimes the human body is very strange. It can have a little certain point that it can get to and it says if you go one pound more you’re going to actually cross the borderline from New Jersey to New York—which means it’s a new Governor, new rules, everything, and the human body can do that sometimes. Maybe the 146 or 47 was the line that changed everything in the physical system of Cotto, but beyond that, I think that fact that he told me that his biggest problem he had in the fight was, number one which we corrected, he was fighting too low. The punch he got hit with, he said the first time he never saw it. He was down in such a position where he really couldn’t see punches that good at that stage because he was bending too low.
So he has his balance better, and he feels that the speed—the speed of Pacquiao bothered him tremendously because I guess in his sparring he wasn’t with fast type guys like that, and as a result he had problems. But this fight, we had him in with one of my top young professional fighters, Dominique Dolton, who was supposed to have been on the undercard who is 6-0. He’s a very, very fast guy on the same speed level of a Sugar Ray Leonard. So he adjusted to the speed very easily, and so therefore, Yuri Foreman’s speed was not really much of a problem to him compared to Dolton who he had in training. So I think the fact that he would be better prepared physically with the higher weight and also that he would be better prepared and adjusted to deal with the blazing speed of Pacquiao would give him a definite different odds of winning because Manny is a great fighter who fights from a rhythm and it is very difficult to anticipate his movement with his feet as well as his hands. He’s a very, very good fighter. He doesn’t just come in with a straightforward type of position. You have to be able to deal with speed as well as power.”
On how Cotto compares to guys like Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis in terms of having the ability to bounce back from the low point in his career in order to still go on to accomplish great things:
“I would say so, but one of the things—yes is your answer—but one of the things that’s very tough for Miguel is he’s in a super, super talented division. I should say divisions, which means when you’re fighting against a super star, almost all Hall of Fame future fighters, and you’re fighting them on a consistent basis, it’s very difficult. Lennox did not have that many really super talented fighters at that time. There were good guys, but not on the level that Miguel has and he’s right there in between that 147 and 154 which is only seven pounds. So the fights that we can make with him would possibly be with Paul Williams, and maybe the Mayweathers and Pacquiao, Cintron, Angulo—I mean, there’s lots of difficult fights where it may not be that easy for him to be so dominating, but I think he’s in a great position now to be right in the mix and very respected as compared to where he’s been the last two or three years with the very tough fights that he’s had and hasn’t had a decisive victory over any of the elite fighters so to say. Just closely getting by with Clottey and Mosley, then the Margarito fight, even the Zab Judah fight was a very brutal tough fight. All of those fights were very physically tough fights that he suffered a lot of punishment in, so he’s an amazing person just to see him training the way he is with the enthusiasm looking like a young kid.”
On the clinics he is planning to run to teach trainers how to train:
“Well I think the biggest problem in boxing today and the biggest void is actually a lack of really good boxing trainers. Really in all of my fights that I have, I really feel that I’m cheating today because all I do is teach basics and basics is cheating because I teach fundamentals. Even in Miguel’s case, it was just basic balance, a good solid jab, a one-two, left hook but always keeping your body in good position. So at this stage in my life I think would like to spend more time now just trying to give back some of this knowledge I’ve accumulated in fifty-seven years in boxing. It’s something that Wladimir, naturally, and some of my fighters don’t especially like for me to do because those are the simple fundamental things that made the big difference between victories and losses sometimes. All of the fighters that I see, and I go to the camps, they have guys that are great as nutritionists for them, and they got guys for weight lifting and weight gaining, and another guy’s good for the running, and they got their million advisors, they got promoters, they got managers, and they got the guys who can hold up the pads and do the little pop-pop-pop-pop-pop and it puts on a great show. It’s nothing but a form of speed beating on a bag the way they really do it that way. Nevertheless, there’s nobody that really teaches the basic fundamentals properly—little simple things that can make the difference between winning and losing. I’m going to be doing a series of clinics in quite a few different cities throughout the next year all over the country. I’ll be giving clinics teaching all of these things that I’ve learned, sometimes through failures and successes. It’s about hand wrapping, and different things, and nutrition, and drastic changes in diets, the proper type foods and whatever, and even to the equipment itself. The first one we have is going to be taking off I think in Atlanta next month, and then the following will be in Tampa, Florida, and we’re going to be moving all over the country and we expect a pretty good attendance from the response we’ve been getting. For anyone who wants to get any information you can go to http://www.emanuelstewardonline.com/ and you can get the information related to the clinics.”
His views on the recent news that David Haye ignored a 50-50 offer with no future options from the Klitschko Camp:
“I don’t think they will ever get that little puppy David Haye to come out from under the bed. He’s going to let his manager stay out there and lock all of the doors and protect him. I don’t think we’ll ever see David Haye fight. We may see him draw some more cartoon sketches and cut them up and do stuff like that, but I can’t understand how a guy can claim that he’s even a solid heavyweight, let alone hold a belt, and let a man talk to you the way Wladimir’s spoken about him or I’ve spoken about him. He has had no response and Wladimir is putting I think about three titles on the line plus the Ring title, and doing everything—and he still won’t even sit down and even talk about it. I personally don’t think that David Haye has any guts at all when it comes down to fighting the Klitschkos and he can’t find all these excuses about money when the man is willing to put all of his titles on the line and do a 50-50 share right down the middle with you. And it’s the only big fight out there in boxing in the heavyweight division that people want to see, and really, the biggest fight in boxing outside of Mayweather and Pacquiao. With all of that interest that he created with his mouth, never did he do anything with his fists, and still to be in that position that makes him look like a genius if he took the fight because without doing anything, just running around and bragging and hassling and bad-mouthing the Klitschkos—he has worked himself into a great position to make possibly up to, I don’t know, maybe twenty or thirty million dollars. Then to walk away from it, the only way I can look at it is he doesn’t have any guts.”
On a potential fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin:
“I think that with Teddy training him, I think he will improve and he’s a good solid fighter. He has a good solid amateur apprenticeship behind him just like Wladimir, but Wladimir is just such an exceptional fighter that I just can’t see Povetkin or anyone beat Wladimir the way he’s fighting now at the top of his game. At least in Povetkin, he is a solid balanced type fighter who is technically very sound, but he just doesn’t have that extra super punch, or extra craftiness, or extra speed, or that little extra something that it would take to be a real big serious threat to Wladimir, but it would be a very interesting fight between two Gold Medal winners in the Olympics and everything. The big fight is really Haye, but Wladimir is doing what he should do. He said, ‘I’m going to stay busy, and until Haye wants to come away from under the bed, I’m going to just go out and fight whoever I have to fight’. Povetkin is a guy, he’ll fight Povetkin, it will be a very interesting fight still but I just can’t see right now anyone in the heavyweight division really beating Wladimir at this point at time. Povetkin is probably about the best solid challenge out there next to David Haye, and maybe the only challenge because David Haye I don’t think wants to get involved in any of this, anyway. So it’s a fight Wladimir has to take to stay busy and to maintain and keep his IBF title, which he considers all of his belts very precious and he’s never taken the attitude of ‘Oh I can just give up a belt’ or ‘It doesn’t mean anything, I’m bigger than the belt’. Those belts mean a lot to him, even though sometimes I question him, but he says they mean a lot to him and he wants to keep all of his belts so that’s it. I hope it takes place in September or October.”
On whether he believes we will ever see a fight between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye:
“I don’t think so, with the kind of money and the public attacks he’s undergoing and everything else, I don’t think that David Haye will ever fight Wladimir. I mean you can’t give him any more. The public has demanded the fight. You, David, created it and still after getting the kind of money—it’s not like he even came back talking about even more money. He doesn’t want to talk, period, anymore. He’s got laryngitis now, but I don’t think we’ll ever see that fight.”
On who he would like to see Cotto fight next:
“Personally, and it was interesting, when the question came up and we were being interviewed by the HBO team about him wanting to get revenge he said it doesn’t really matter, and that’s just the way he is. He doesn’t care about the revenge, he said he just wants to fight the best biggest fights, and that’s probably what has enabled him to be one of the favorites of the fans. He just wants to fight whoever Top Rank or whoever tells him he has to fight and that’s his attitude. Me personally, I would like to see him fight more in the welterweight area. I still think even though he’s a junior middleweight, there’s a big height discrepancy in some of the guys who are so much taller, but height he said doesn’t bother him. I think Pacquiao would be better and the one I would like to see, though. I would like to see Pacquiao. Based on what Margarito has been found guilty of, I just hate to even reward him by seeing him come into a big mega million dollar fight after what he did. I think he should fight some fights first and try work himself back up. I think it’s not fair for him to be given these big super fights right away.”
For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins at approximately eighteen minutes and eighteen seconds (0:18:18) into the show.
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Article posted on 09.06.2010