Emanuel Steward: “Chisora is talking like David Haye but he’s going to fight, and David wouldn’t fight”
by Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s 96th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who discussed a slew of different topics, including Vitali Klitschko’s victory over Briggs, Wladimir Klitschko’s upcoming title defense against Derek Chisora, Lennox Lewis, Miguel Cotto, Andy Lee, Freddie Roach, Naseem Hamed, Marquez-Katsidis, Hopkins-Pascal, Pacquiao-Margarito, and much more. He also spoke about his October 23 Boxing Clinic which will be held at the Maple Avenue Gym in Dallas, Texas. Here is what Emanuel had to say on his latest appearance on the show:
His views on Vitali’s Klitschko’s unanimous decision victory against Shannon Briggs:
“Well, it wasn’t the most impressive fight to be very honest with you. I anticipated a better performance from Shannon because of all of the hype that he had built. Then he came out, and first of all he seemed like he was afraid to commit. He was jabbing to the body and throwing a right hand to the body, but for the most part his mind was just on bending back. I don’t know. It wasn’t even really a defensive motion because he was getting hit so much. I thought if the guy’s going to keep hitting you with one punch over and over and over, at least he’s going to learn how to roll his shoulder and come back with a counter or do something. It just seemed like he was determined to go the twelve rounds and to get hit almost, which is kind of crazy to say.
Vitali did what he was supposed to do. He was able to jab-jab, keep him at distance, and keep throwing the right hand because he was very vulnerable for it. It wasn’t an explosive knockout that I kind of look for in a heavyweight fight. I just didn’t see the fireworks. I thought that Briggs would have been more exciting and more of a challenge for at least two or three rounds, and then probably had chance of maybe winning. He never seemed to have mounted any type of confidence or attack throughout the whole fight. I was very disappointed and it was really, really sad to see him take all of those blows.
I was speaking to Wladimir this morning and he said, ‘Emanuel, mostly what I was watching was for them to stop the fight in his corner’. I said, ‘Wladimir, I know this because I was watching on the internet and I noticed in between rounds, you were not even paying any attention to what was going on in your corner with your brother. You were just continually looking at Shannon Briggs’ corner’. He said, ‘Yeah, because I was just waiting for them stop the fight because he was getting hit over and over and over and over’ with punches from a big guy and not returning anything, not trying to clinch, or even to duck or do anything. It was a win, but not a very super exciting fight to me.”
On whether he was surprised that Shannon Briggs was able to last the distance:
“I was surprised somewhat that he was able to take those blows like that, but it was the same blow. I guess he was getting hit with it so much that the I guess mentally the side of his left face was prepared to keep getting hit with it. I don’t know, but I didn’t think he would go the twelve rounds. I thought that about I think after the eighth or ninth round, I told the people that were with me I said, ‘The fight is definitely going to end in the next round, there’s no way it’s going to make it through twelve rounds’. So it looked at a certain point like that was his victory, just to go the twelve rounds and not be knocked out, but he could have done a lot of different things not just being a professional fighter, but just common sense things—especially when you’re getting hit with the same punch over and over.
Nevertheless, it was just another win and that’s not what we need. We need a little bit more excitement right now in boxing, in particular in the heavyweight division. I think the upcoming fight with Wladimir and Derek Chisora, even though Chisora’s not a super experienced or talented fighter, I understand that he’s a young aggressive guy and he’s going to come in with a desire and a challenge and a belief that he could win which is going to be a slight change of pace for Wladimir, because most of the guys have been veteran fighters and they all knew how to survive. They were more into defensive modes than they were into offense for the most part. Except that Sam Peter did try to mount a fairly decent offense his last fight. For the most part, this will be a challenge in terms of just someone that’s coming in with a plan and a belief that can win, and I think will try to win.”
His views on the differences between the 1998 Shannon Briggs who fought Lennox Lewis and the 2010 version who fought Vitali Klitschko:
“Well when he fought Lennox, he was a very aggressive dangerous guy in the fight. I remember very vividly that Lennox came back to the corner at the end of the first round in a little bit in trouble, and I had to do one of my little Japanese tricks in the back of his neck to get his head clear. Lennox came back from that point and slowly and gradually took control over the fight. No, Lennox was hurt because Shannon’s a fast guy with a big punch and good speed.
In this fight here I saw a guy that came out and showed that he had the slick moves. He had some moves still left, but he didn’t have the mindset to be aggressive. He wanted to pretty much fight a safe fight and I was a little bit surprised. In a case like this, I thought he would have came out and let all of his punches go, at least like he did even years ago. It’s different when you may get tired or your timing may be off, but when you just don’t throw punches period, that’s the difference. Even if your timing is off or you will get tired, at least you throw the punches but he didn’t throw any punches, hardly. I just wonder and worry a little bit about the amount of damage he received in that fight. To be getting hit by a 250 pound man consistently, I mean sometimes maybe like fourteen out of sixteen right hands that were thrown had hit him. For round after round of that, that doesn’t do anybody any good health-wise.
On why Derek Chisora was chosen as Wladimir Klitschko’s next opponent:
“Well it really wasn’t a case of choosing. For most of the case, it was who would accept the fight. I was told day-to-day, I would be talking to Wladimir and he would tell me, ‘Listen, maybe we should go to YouTube and check him out’ and then the next thing I knew he turned down the fight, and then this one. I forgot the list, and so finally this guy said he would take the fight. This guy was coming off of a victory I guess a few weeks back and he said he would take the fight. Even in that case, it took about another two weeks to get that completed.
It’s a case of who will fight the champions now. I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t know. The IBF is trying to put together an elimination tournament, and every time I hear that this guy pulled out, and then I was told that guy pulled out. I’m just totally confused and baffled. The guys don’t want to get into tournaments, don’t want to fight the champions of the world, and that does not help boxing, in particular the heavyweight division. So the champions are thanking whoever will accept a fight for accepting the fight.”
His views on the type of threat Derek Chisora represents for Wladimir Klitschko:
“I think the way Wladimir Klitschko is fighting right now it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to really even be able to hit him, because he’s controlling his fights so well. I don’t think that Derek will be able to do too much except the fact that he comes in with a mindset of a winner, which we have not had that in a long time. Wladimir said they just had a press conference I guess today in Germany, and he said he was very surprised with the confident attitude of Derek Chisora. He said he’s very confident and he said, ‘It’s really got me even pissed, and I’m going to go training tomorrow’. He’s really upset, so evidently whatever Derek said, and the guy really believes in himself, too. So he’s not just talking. Chisora is talking like David Haye but he’s going to fight, and David wouldn’t fight. He said, ‘I believe this guy is going to be a challenge to me, Emanuel’ so I think that’s the mindset. To me it’s always about the mind. If you have a person who believes in himself, I experienced that with the Iran Barkley’s and the Tommy Hearns fights and those types of situations. That happens. People get knocked out or they lose fights. I don’t think he will beat Wladimir, but it does present a challenge, though.”
His views on Prince Naseem Hamed before he trained him:
“Well I thought he was extremely to watch, which he was always that way. I think one of the biggest assets he had is a lot of the fighters who were going to fight him in England at that time didn’t even know what to expect. His style of luring you into an exchange, with those gifted reflexes, you would get into an exchange and the punches would be like a right uppercut from weird angles with his hands down, and leaping at you because he had those strong legs, and they didn’t know what to expect. He was a very exciting colorful fighter. I think he did a lot for boxing. As far as the Arabic world, he’s one of the biggest sports stars probably ever. In fact I can think of another athlete that was bigger than him. In my gym today, I have about probably 30% of the boxers I have that are Arabic kids all because of Naseem Hamed and the pictures that I have when I was training him. He was an unbelievably exciting and I just believe he was good for boxing.
When he first landed here in America, his first fight with Kevin Kelley—oh my God, he couldn’t have come out with anything better than that. From that point on, though, the fighters that he fought here in America, they all pretty much figured him out once they had seen him. So he was really not so overly devastating with his performances if you really break him down after that, but his showmanship was just unbelievable. I know the fights with Wayne McCullough and some of those type guys, they knew what to expect after seeing him on American TV. So he was never able to really have that type of consistency with dominant performances, like say Manny Pacquiao has, but for just plain showmanship and things. People today ask me, and they say, ‘Oh, I sure loved that little British fighter you used to train, he would be talking and telling them all what he was going today’ and they were laughing. He was a really true puncher, though, and we could use another one like him right now.”
His expectations going into the fight between Naseem Hamed and Marco Antonio Barrera and what he thought of the type of fight Barrera fought that night:
“Very much what happened is what I had thought. I don’t know if you know, it was on the British TV and we were training. Naz took him so lightly and he was believing the hype. You would be shocked at the unbelievably small amount of rounds he sparred. He was really, not just even confident, but he just had no respect for Barrera. I knew at the same time that Barrera was training up at Big Bear, and I was getting my reports that he was training very hard and very focused. Naz was totally lax in his training. He just didn’t have the respect. He just thought beating on the pads and everything, that it all wasn’t going to be necessary and I’m getting the reports on Barrera.
In fact, Barrera had just fought his last fight and I remember I did the broadcast on HBO and he looked sensational. At the end of the broadcast I think Larry Merchant said, ‘Emanuel, he looked very good tonight. What are your thoughts especially with your guy Hamed getting ready to fight him?’ I said, ‘Larry, if I had my way I would cancel the fight’ and I really meant it. So when I got back he asked me and he said, ‘Manny, you were saying on TV that you could cancel. Do you really think Barrera was that good?’ and I said, ‘Yeah’.
Basically for the most part he was watching tapes of Junior Jones and Barrera, and at that time that was like five years ago and I was very upset at that. I said, ‘You want to look at this guy and prepare for him at his best and how he looks today’. He just totally didn’t believe it, and he just said that he was going to go and knock him out. I saw the intensity and seriousness in Barrera’s face when we were watching him get his hands wraps on, and I knew we were going to be in trouble.
Barrera just fought a very good technical fight, a smart fight. I’ll be honest with you, if he would have really wanted to open and up and had been aggressive he probably would have stopped us. We couldn’t have made it through the fight, because Naseem had no defense for him. He couldn’t counter the punches. His timing was off because he didn’t have the proper sparring, and just the whole atmosphere. Most of his fights were on the east coast here in New Jersey, and New York, and naturally in London and places like that. Then all of a sudden you’re going to Vegas, which is a whole different atmosphere and everything. There are not many Arabic people going to be there on a major level supporting him. I think when he was getting ready to come into the ring and doing his little skit to come into the ring, someone threw some beer on him. So it was just horrible. It was a different crowd that he had never been exposed to, so emotionally and spiritually he was totally unorganized. That was the one fight I don’t even think he leaped over the ropes like he normally did. He was unorganized from the beginning, and Marco Antonio Barrera came out and just really gave him a boxing lesson. Thank God he was not too aggressive in that fight, because it would have been very difficult to stop him from scoring a TKO probably if he had opened up.
Naz was one of those very rare breeds that you get that has so much natural charisma and excitement and punching power, that you just don’t get and that was naturally him, too. So it was not just the hype, that’s the way he was. I had met him when I went to an event when I was managing Dennis Andries once when he was just getting started. We were at this event and he came over and was talking to me, and I told Dennis, ‘Who is this short little guy that’s telling me he’s going to knock out everybody and he’s going to be great?’ He said, ‘That’s a little kid, but he can punch a little. He’s very exciting for a little guy and he could hit pretty good’. From that point on, I watched him and followed his career. He was a very good, good puncher. I don’t know how he would have done with a lot of the all time greats because the unknown element of his style is really what got him to a certain point, but once he came here and we saw him on TV regularly a lot of the fighters were able to be better prepared for him.”
His opinion on how Hamed would have fared against someone like Erik Morales or Juan Manuel Marquez:
“Well I’ll be very honest with, Naz was great excitement. None of those guys still have really got to the level where he did in terms of crowd appeal, but I think they would have beat him. They were fundamentally too sound, and they were basically too sound for him as boxers. So they would have been a big problem for him.”
His views going into the fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao considering most observers heavily favored Barrera:
“I felt the same way. I had seen Manny. I think his first fight here we did on television Ledwaba who I think it was a boxer from South Africa. I got a report from a friend of mine who was from the Philippines and he said, ‘He’s a pure fighter. He’s a little tough street kid here who shoots pool, he is a pool hustler or whatever, but he can fight. He’s never in a boring fight so don’t take him lightly’, because I didn’t think he could do anything. Anyway, when he knocked out Ledwaba he had punching power and intensity that I had not seen in a long time, but I did not think he was going to beat Barrera.
When he beat Barrera, I was just totally shocked and I think he beat him in San Antonio if I remember. I mean everything was totally out of order for him in terms of being in a Mexican town. I was just very impressed the way he fought with such intensity and confidence. Then he did it again and he did it again, and throughout the years he not only made a big believer out of me, but he is probably my favorite fighter in the world today and I think definitely one of the greatest fighters that I ever saw because of his consistent performance over all of these years with the top fighters. He’s been performing on the top level, and I think lost only one I think maybe to Morales where he stopped him in the return. I judge a person on his performance against the best, but he’s been performing on a consistent level against the best fighters for all these years and has held up.
In Barrera’s case, he’s one of the few fighters that I ever saw who made a complete transition from his early career, from being a ‘baby-faced assassin’ or whatever, where we looked at him with McKinney and those type of fights with ‘Fight of the Year’, ‘Round of the Year’. It was mainly from tough aggressive fighting and a typical Mexican style of fighting. It seemed like he just transformed everything. He maybe even changed the whole culture of the Mexican boxers with Morales and all of them. He just changed and became a technical boxer, and at the end of his career he was known as more of a I call him ‘boxing machine’. It’s very seldom you could have someone do that, especially when they’ve had like twenty or thirty fights completed.
We were fortunate in this time to see two of the best probably featherweights, and junior lightweights, and lightweights maybe in the history of boxing. All of them have been right here and they’ve been fighting each other, which has been good. Instead of the situation where we can’t get Floyd involved. I guess Barrera and Morales and Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have all been fighting each other. More than any one person, I would definitely have to say Naseem Hamed brought the focus and attention to the lighter weight divisions. Without him, you don’t invest them money or you don’t do this with the small fighters. The TV wasn’t even interested in watching the small fighters. I’m not sure, but I think it was Lou DiBella who really was the one who went over there and convinced HBO to try and invest in this situation with this colorful little fighter from over there in England. Once he hit New York and started talking and had one of the greatest kickoffs, if you will, that we had in history at Madison Square to crawl off the floor with Kevin Kelley and he ended up winning by knockout. It was like the timing was set for greatness, and from that point on I think that’s when they got interested in all these other smaller guys. But Prince Hamed was the guy that I credit more than anyone else for really bringing the focus on the smaller guys in boxing.”
His views on the work Freddie Roach has done with Pacquiao to make him a more complete fighter:
“I think Freddie did what words won’t be able to describe what he did with him. He definitely transformed him from being one-dimensional, and that’s why I wasn’t that super high on him to a certain degree, because he would move around, move around, and throw a long straight left hand with his full power, but there was no other balance or combinations or anything. It was mainly just a strong straight left hand punch. The chemistry between him and Freddie, and you get this sometimes rarely when you have a certain trainer and fighter that just have a chemistry that is unbelievable. The chemistry worked perfect for them, and he’s became a balanced fighter with a right hand now that’s just as deadly as his left. He boxes well with his right jab, his right hook, he’s a tremendous counter-puncher, and what is really unusual about him also and special, he’s the type of guy you have to be careful with when you go into an exchange. A lot of his knockouts and knockdowns come when people are in the middle of exchanges. He has unbelievable cat-like reflexes where he could be slipping punches and landing punches at the same time, and then slip another punch that’s coming in, and land another punch and slip again. So he’s a very dangerous guy to fight, and it seems like they have a great relationship not just in the ring, but out of the ring. He has definitely been Freddie’s signature fighter that has been really great for both of them in terms of money and recognition that they’ve gotten as a team.”
His views on the upcoming fight between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito:
“Originally when the fight was made, I thought with Margarito being a tough big, big man who’s big even for any welterweight. Don’t forget, he drowned down big guys like Cintron, and guys who are 5’11”. To put him in with a guy who is about 5’6”, and in my opinion Manny is still nothing but a little over the lightweight limit. From what I was told and what Freddie’s said, he still stays around about 138 and that’s with eating and feeding him and sometimes weighing-in and eating the day before the fight just to make 142 or something. So for him to be what I call really a lightweight/junior welterweight or whatever, to be fighting these types of guys who seem too big for him. The fact that Manny’s such a special, special machine, and I haven’t seen him fight since he lost to Mosley, I didn’t see Margarito’s fight in Mexico—his timing and coordination is not going to be able to deal with him. Even though he has a physical advantage, I just don’t think he’s going to be sharp enough to deal with the speed and accuracy and pinpoint punching of Manny. Even though he’s physically much smaller, I think he’s going to just be too much for Margarito.”
His views on the upcoming fight between Kelly Pavlik and Bryan Vera:
“I think that Kelly should beat Bryan, because Bryan is the typical type fighter that’s is good for Kelly. Kelly basically likes to fight guys who are a little bit shorter and don’t have too much movement. That’s what always has bothered Kelly, guys that I call crafty fighters who always would be a problem. I just don’t know about Kelly fighting at 160. I thought he was going to go to 168. I think his best weight is probably about 164 or 165 so he’s somewhere in between, but I don’t like him going back to 160 but if he can make it and he’s comfortable I would have to favor him. I think he’s still a step above Bryan in terms of all around skills and the fact that Bryan does not have all the fancy movements, and the pivots, and the turns that Bernard Hopkins had and Sergio Martinez. So he’s more of a straight line fighter and I think he would definitely have a good edge over him. I’ve always liked Kelly because he’s one of the guys right here in my region that as a little kid used to go to the tournaments and I watched him grow up and become a world class fighter. I just wonder about his weight. That’s what I’m always concerned about. Where does he fit in terms of weight? It seems like 160 is too much for him. He can make it, but can you make it and perform on a top level effectively is one thing. I was really hoping he would move up to 168, but anyway I think he’ll win the fight. I just don’t know whether his future lies with going back to middleweight going back with Paul Williams and Martinez. Who knows?”
On whether he believes Kelly Pavlik can have the same success at 168 that he had at 160:
“That’s a tough division right there, and what’s unfortunate for Kelly is most of the fighters up there are pretty much technical what I call crafty type fighters—like Lucian Bute, and Andre Dirrell if he ever gets back, and Andre Ward. Those are guys that will give him problems. Even though Arthur Abraham is a strong guy, but I think that style-wise maybe he would have a better chance with him even. I think the crafty fighters are what gives him difficulties and that’s what that division is loaded with, so Bute and those guys will be a big problem for him. Looking back at the middleweights, with Martinez and Williams those are guys who are moving types and shifty type fighters, too.
So he’s going to have a problem in any division he goes into unless he makes some changes and concentrates on his footwork a little bit more, because he’s more of a straight-in fighter. When he was fighting with Bernard Hopkins, his instructions were to jab-jab-right, jab-jab-right. As soon as he was throwing the first jab, Bernard was very crafty. Bernard would start moving over to his right making Kelly have to make a little pivot, and Kelly couldn’t do that too well and Bernard would tap him with a little combination and move around. Bernard did his homework and fought a very smart fight. Even going into the late rounds his trainer was still telling him the same basic instructions, but it just wasn’t working. He’s got to spend a little bit more time on his footwork I think, moving and changing directions. If he could do that, he will be a much better fighter for both divisions but his footwork is going to hurt him in both of those divisions right now.”
On how he first became involved in training and what advice and tips he would have for aspiring trainers:
“Well I guess I was born with it. I started boxing actually when I was seven or eight. I had my first fight at eight. So I was always in boxing. At sixteen, I would go down to the gym and there were so many little kids running around that my trainer at the time couldn’t train all those kids so I started helping him. I would start training the little kids and then wound up training even my own fellow Golden Glove guys. I won the Golden Gloves the same year, and then as soon as I won my fight I was back in the corner helping the coach with the other fighters that I was training. So I got into it just like accidentally.
The best thing about training is teaching basic fundamentals, and you can never ever tell in the beginning who’s going to be the great star and who’s not. The fighters I’ve worked with, if I would tell you the list of my superstar fighters you would probably say you never heard of them. The guys who go on to be the great fighters are usually guys who have discipline. Believe it or not, and they’re determined. The rest of the guys, the super skilled guys, they go through life and you’d be surprised with some of their options. But teach basic fundamentals, proper balance, a proper jab, and just remember that this sport right here requires more personal attention than being on a team sport. That’s basically what I would say. Just try and learn the basics.
If you got to EmanuelStewardOnline.com you can see where I’m doing these clinics and stuff. We’re going to in fact be trying to put some of this stuff on the internet where you can learn the basic fundamentals and then let everything go from there. Take time to learn and teach the basics, and if you can teach the basics you can train in the gym until you have actual fights because you could still just develop to a certain degree. But just teach basic fundamental boxing starting with the footwork, and anybody can be a trainer. In fact a lot of times guys who had been boxers don’t make the best trainers, believe it or not, because they are all set in whatever style they were into and they don’t really learn to be balanced out and try to teach.”
On his October 23 Boxing Clinic in Dallas, Texas:
“It’s at the Maple Avenue Boxing Gym and we’re expecting a big, big turnout in this one based on the responses of people that are already registered. We’re going to cover a lot of things and also it will be just prior to the Pacquiao and Margarito fight. There are a lot of topics about the new hand-wrapping rules that they have down there in Texas that will probably be employed in that fight, so we’ll discuss all of that and the regular basic fundamentals, and little tricks and diet stuff, and the politics and everything else. It should be a well attended clinic from what I can tell with the registrations that are coming in already. It’s at the Maple Avenue Boxing Gym.”
His views on the upcoming fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal and whether he believes Hopkins is crafty enough that he can pull off another big upset:
“No, to be honest I just don’t think he could do it with Pascal. Pascal’s a little too fluid and I’m watching the fights where the guys have these little fluid movements, and even though he’s not a Calzaghe, but Pascal is still a crafty enough good moving type of little fighter that I think his coordination and speed that are going to be too much for Bernard. Bernard, basically when he has other fighters who are moving around a lot him, he always a tendency to punch and come in with his head down a little bit and not have his best balance. Bernard is very good when he can box, but when he has to be in this case here, trying to keep up with the footwork and movement with Pascal I don’t believe he’ll be able to do that well. That’s just my personal opinion. He’s surprised a lot before, but this time I just don’t see it, though.”
His assessment of Andy Lee’s two recent knockout victories against Michael Walker (TKO8) and Troy Lowry (TKO4):
“Well I thought he fought very well in both of his recent fights, and the fact that he said he wants to fight if he could sometime in the next two weeks. It’s very refreshing to have a fighter that wants to fight that regularly, and the guys he fought were not complete bums, either.
We’re right now finalizing details on a fight with him and John Duddy. I was in New York and we’re trying to put the finishing touches on that. It’s interesting and could be just a good match-up without even a title, like Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti. The chemistry between these two, it’s like fighting for the bragging rights of Ireland and New York so to say, because Andy spends a lot of time in New York. We’re trying to get that together and hopefully it will take place in late January or February, and there should be an announcement in the next week or so related to that. So hopefully it will be the talk of the holidays since unfortunately we don’t have any hot fights that I know of right now that’s been made or signed which I’m a little bit frustrated about that because going into the year I’d like to have something.
I know I’m excited about this fight with Juan Manuel Marquez against Michael Katsidis. Now that, oh my God that’s going to be a good fight. I’m very, very excited about that but beyond that there is no other big fights that I know of right now that have been signed and sealed for next year.”
On whether he thinks it is far that a lot of fans are criticizing Vitali Klitschko’s win against Shannon Briggs because he could not knock Briggs out when Lennox Lewis knocked him out more than ten years ago:
“I can understand how people would say that. I won’t say whether it’s fair or not, but I can understand it. Lennox was a very complete fighter. When people ask me about the heavyweight champions I’ve worked with, and I guess I’ve worked with about five of them altogether, and I say Lennox is still the best heavyweight champion that I ever worked with. I think that for just plain all around talent and coordination and things, Wladimir is maybe superior, but for the best champion it’s still Lennox because Lennox could change up and do what he had to do. He had more of a variety of different tools. If he had to, he could punch to the body, he could punch with a good left hook and a good right hand, and if he had to he could just come out and be totally aggressive and very physical like he did in some fights like going back to his fight with Riddick Bowe in the amateurs. Then if he had to get on his toes and box, he could box.
He was a different fighter and a very physically strong man, more than most people realize, including the fight with Vitali. After losing the early rounds he came back and I said, ‘Lennox, we’re losing the championship of the world. You’re used to pulling back and being the tall guy and being out of range’, which was similar to what Shannon was doing and getting hit. I said, ‘He’s reaching and hitting you with punches when you think you’re out of range and you’re not, because you’re not used to a guy that tall. Go out and be aggressive and when you jab, push the jab all the way through with him. When you get inside, hit him with the left hook if you can and push him with the shoulders. When you get in throw uppercuts. Just totally change up and go the streets’. Lennox said, ‘I got you’ and he went out and won the fifth round big, and then the sixth. That’s what made him an exception. He could change up right in the middle of the fight and do what he had to do and could be sometimes just plain physical.
It’s just not Vitali’s nature or style. Vitali’s a technical fighter, but he’s not that devastating one punch single puncher like Lennox. Lennox could knock you out with one punch, and Wladimir has that ability. Vitali systematically wears and breaks people down. That’s just the way he fights. It is very seldom you see him knock someone out with one punch. His fights with Sam Peter and almost all of his fights, he systematically breaks people down. That’s just him. Lennox was a totally different type of fighter and very unique.”
On why the fight between Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Junior is no longer happening:
“Well the original announcement that I was told from the inside was that Julio Cesar Chavez’s camp felt that he wasn’t ready. They felt he was not ready and wanted to take another fight in between, and shortly after that the big to do was about trying to get somebody for Miguel to fight. Not coming up with anyone that was appealing enough to Miguel, because he said he only wants to fight really big super fights at this stage of his career. The names that were thrown out were not that attractive to him, plus the fact I think he said his shoulder was not 100%. So he said, ‘Rather than trying to force myself to go into a fight I’m not that excited about, I will just go ahead and take full advantage of the situation and let my body heal up’. That’s what I was told what really has happened, so he decided to just wait until March and maybe by then things will have sorted itself out and he can get a high profile opponent that will be more attractive to the public and he will have healed up 100%. But he was ready to go on with the fight, even with the shoulder not being completely healed.”
On whether he would be interested in having Miguel Cotto face the winner of the Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams fight:
“Well the way that the boxers are on the top level now, except for a couple of exceptions, that’s what the fights are willing to fight—whoever the top name fighters are. It’s more of a business side situation with the champions today. I think it’s possible. It’s very difficult to visualize at first with the height of Martinez who’s maybe about 6’0” himself and I guess Williams is about 6’3”. Regardless of what they put on paper, he’s about 6’3”. If the weights come in right and it’s the right kind of money out there and I guess the fights will find the fight attractive. It’s a good possibility that fight could be made. Also the fact that Martinez and Williams keep saying that they are not full middleweights, that they can make junior middleweight if they wanted to, so I would say it’s going to be a fair possibility that that fight could be made.”
His analysis and prediction for the upcoming fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Michael Katsidis:
“Oh my God! I can’t predict on that one. I mean Marquez I think is a more technically solid fighter, one of the best ever. But this Katsidis may be physically very strong. I guess Marquez, I’m stupid to say this, but I guess he’s a lightweight now. I still keep seeing him in my mind as a good 131-132 pound guy. In his last fight that he fought in with Juan Diaz, he was 133 about a week before the fight. I don’t know, I think that Katsidis may have a little edge in strength, but the technical skills are with Marquez. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s going to be a very exciting fight because with both guys, as soon as they get hit they fire back. If Marquez gets hit, he’s not going to take a step back. That was a mistake that a lot of guys make when they fight him. He’ll be boxing, but then once they hit him it’s like waking up a sleeping dog. He comes right back right away and I know that’s going to happen, and I know Katsidis has the same type of attitude. So it’s one of those fights that I just see as a pure guaranteed exciting explosive fight.”
For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and thirty-four minutes into the program.
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Article posted on 22.10.2010
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