Emanuel Steward: ďPovetkin wouldnít fight Wladimir Klitschko because he never thought he was ready, so they created a situation where he can still fight and be world champion without fighting KlitschkoĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 139th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward who spoke about a wide variety of topics, including Wladimir Klitschko, Nazim Richardson, Chad Dawsonís upcoming fight with Bernard Hopkins, Miguel Cottoís rematch against Antonio Margarito, Andy Leeís upcoming rematch with Bryan Veray, Pacquiao versus Marquez III, Mayweather versus Ortiz, Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, the WBA, Ronald Hearns, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
JENNA J: We have a trainer who is no stranger to On the Ropes. He has made 15 previous appearances to our program. He has trained Hall of Famer Lennox Lewis. He is training the current heavyweight champion of the world Wladimir Klitschko. We are joined by Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward. How is everything going today Emanuel?
EMANUEL STEWARD: Iím doing pretty good. Iím just coming in from the gym.
JENNA: Alright, well good to hear. Since you said you were coming back from the gym who are you working with right now?
STEWARD: Andy Lee, Ronald Hearns who just came back and started with us for his fight with Chavez after being gone for four years, and Tony Harrison, and K-9. Tony Harrisonís my young prospect. Heís a junior middleweight, 20 years old, and heís had three fights already in July alone since Iíve been working with him.
JENNA: Well one thing that kind of caught me by surprise there was Ronald Hearns. I remember he used to work with you in the past. What do you think about his upcoming title fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Junior?
STEWARD: Well I told him, ďThey selected you because they figured you would be an easy fight, and nothing that you did really qualified you or justified you even getting the fight, except for the fact they think itís a guaranteed win. So based on that you have a lot going for you, because there is not that much respectĒ. Heís got to come out with a tough mindset. Iíve been involved in those type of fights quite often. In fact, Iíve been very fortunate. Iíve won all of those where Iíve gone in, in those home town situations, but you have to come in with a mindset where you donít read and you donít do anything thatís going to un-motivate. You have to be totally focused and intense, and I think he has a good chance of winning the fight because of his height, his natural athleticism, and I think that maybe Julio Junior will not be as focused as he should because of thinking itís an easy fight in addition to fighting in his own home town. All of the odds are stacked against him, so once you know that you have to go in and you have to be looking and preparing for a knockout. So while heís training at the gym heís training for a knockout. He cannot expect to get any breaks or to win a decision there, but I think heís very fortunate to be given this type of opportunityótwo championship fights back-to-back, and then having lost the first one and not having done anything to get the second. So itís a great situation for him. Itís a no-lose situation, really.
JENNA: Well you know people have actually been a little bit hard on Julio Cesar Chavez Junior for taking this fight. Heís taking it on short notice and the promotion is kind of getting rushed. Do you think all of these things can play in favor of Ronald Hearns?
STEWARD: I think that can be in favor, but also Ronald is on short notice. In his fight with Felix Sturm he broke his hand and he has not been into a gym of any type until two weeks ago because of the hand being broken. So itís a short notice fight for him even more so. In fact Julio has just fought recently, and so heís in much better shape especially fighting in his home country with the altitude and everything favoring him. You know Julio Junior has been fairly active so I donít think itís really that much of a short notice for him. I think they were already considering having another fight for him because they made up their minds that they have to keep him busy. I think t he main plan is he doesnít have that much time on his hands and has to fight regularly, but anyway I think that the notice will hurt Hearns who hasnít fought since being stopped by Sturm and hasnít really even been training at all because of his hand being broken.
JENNA: Well you also mentioned youíre in the gym with Andy Lee. Heís preparing for a rematch with Bryan Vera. Itís been long talked about, long rumored, and now itís finally going to happen on October 15. What do you expect to happen in the rematch?
STEWARD: I think Andy will fight a much more experienced style of fighting and be more patient while still being technical, and I think heíll knock Vera out in the later rounds.
JENNA: Now you said heíll be a little bit more technical and you think heíll knock him out in the later rounds, but have you tried to do anything different with Andy Lee? Are you trying to work on anything different? I mean in his fight with McEwan he showed some weaknesses in his defense. What are you working on?
STEWARD: Well if you remember his first fight he was ahead on the scorecards. He scored a knockdown, but thatís why they have fight go longer than three or four rounds when youíre in the top league. So it wasnít that he was technically that unsound, itís just that he went overboard trying to knockout Vera because he got excited and it was a St. Patrickís crowd there. At that time we didnít have that much respect for Vera. None of us had for the most part in that camp, and he shot his wad trying to finish him off and when that didnít happen, he was exhausted and tired and he took a big pounding, even though he came back and landed a punch just as the referee was stopping the fight. The referee was still okay and justifiable in my opinion of stopping the fight.
Weíve learned from that and the main thing is to be a little bit more patient, and if we get him hurt donít get carried away and throw a lot of punches. Pace yourself a little bit better, and naturally after fighting a guy that youíve lost to, you have respect for the guy a little bit more, too. So thereís a lot more respect for Vera going into this fight. I think Andyís all around boxing skills, and his defense will be much, much better than it was in the McEwan fight for lots of reasons. But as a rule, other than the McEwan fight he never was known as having that bad of a defense. That was the fight that all of his criticism is coming from, and it was bad for that fight, but that was because physically he was not right either but thatís another story. But anyway, for this fight his defense will be better, heíll be a little bit more focused and more patient, and will use his boxing skills and his size to take advantage of and stop Vera in the later rounds.
JENNA: Okay well letís talk about your big fighter, that being Wladimir Klitschko. People are still talking about who he will potentially face in December and you mentioned on previous shows that he could fight Chris Arreola. Well Chris Arreola recently pulled out of a September fight. Is that the fight weíre going to see next for Wladimir?
STEWARD: I donít know. Itís the fight that I would like to see. I would like to see Chris. If you look at the landscape itís amazing how Chris loses a fight, and then they put him right back on TV, then he wins a couple, then he loses again against Adamek after losing to Vitali, and heís back in. Everybody loves him, but also they keep him on TV and heís t he one that we see the most in America. I personally like Arreola because his style is the style that will force Wladimir to fight better than any other style I know in the game right now. Heís not going to be technical the way that a lot of these other guys are and he has just enough speed and enough of a tough mindset that I think heís going to force Wladimir to have to really fight.
Wladimir wonít be able to sit back and stay in his comfort zone like he has in most of his fights. I think he will win the fight, but I think Wladimir will be pushed the same way that Vitali Klitschko was pushed when he fought Arreola. Even though he beat Arreola, Vitali today has said that is still his toughest fight because Chris kept pushing him all the way. I think he is the only guy who will force Wladimir to have to come out of his comfort zone and have to fight, because Wladimir controls guys so easily with just his size and his skill that he can get away with it. But this would be a different fight. Itís a fight as a fan and also as a trainer with Wladimir that I would like to see.
Beyond that, I really canít see anybody else. Itís even to the point where a couple of weeks ago I talked to Wlaidmir and he said, ďEmanuel, what do you think about the name of Tua?Ē
I said, ďTua?!Ē I said, ďOh my God!Ē
He said, ďWell who else can you think of?Ē
I thought for a minute and there was really nothing else I could think of. The only other name with any market value I can think of is Tyson Fury, and Tyson is saying he doesnít want to rush himself. Heís just 22. He wants to take his time and get his seasoning, and basically he wants to fight more in the European league first before making a big move. When you take him out of the question, all I could think of is just a bunch of ordinary guys. I thought well Tuaís name is not that great, but itís just as good as anybody. Then Tua gets beat by Monte Barrett the next day or so, who Wladimir beat ten years ago. Thatís when if it goes back to me the only fighter that I would be excited about is going back to Chris Arreola.
JENNA: Alright well there is another fighter out there that actually recently mentioned that he would be interested in fighting Wladimir. He had some name significance, especially in the United States. Thatís Antontio Tarver. Do you think that type of fight would interest Wladimir at all?
STEWARD: Yeah you know I think Antonio Tarverís name is just as good as anyoneís. I mean itís like the Klitschkos are in one league and then everybody else is in a different league right now. But Antonio is still a seasoned fighter and he just had a good win over there beating Danny Green. Heís someone that I would have to respect because heís got skill and heís got heart. Heís got not a lot of height, but heís not the shortest guy in the world. So yes, I would consider that as being a serious challenge.
JENNA: Okay, well Emanuel weíre also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff.
GEOFFREY CIANI Hey Emanuel. Itís a pleasure to have you back on the show.
STEWARD: Okay, well itís my pleasure being on the show too Geoff, always. Itís my favorite show.
CIANI: Thank you. You got a lot of tough fights coming up here in the next few months Emanuel, and Iím wondering as a trainer from your perspective, which one of these three fights do you view as your biggest challenge? You have Chad Dawson going against Bernard Hopkins, and then you have two guys trying to avenge previous losses with Andy Lee fighting Bryan Vera as you and Jenna talked about before, and also Miguel Cotto fighting Antonio Margarito. Which one is the toughest challenge to you as a trainer and why?
STEWARD: Well itís very difficult to pick from those fights, and as you said all three of them are tough fights. I mean Vera beat Andy Lee the last time, and thatís his claim to fame really is beating Andy Lee and Iím quite sure heís going to be up for this fight. Chad Dawson has much, much superior skills than most fighters that Iíve worked, but still the fight heís fighting is against Bernard Hopkins. Itís one that I have to be very weary of and respectful because Bernard is a seasoned fighter, a very intelligent fighter, heís been with these guys, heís a complete boxer. Heís a student of the game. Whereas Chad doesnít have that intensity and focus into boxing the way that Bernard does, even though heís got height, and youth, and skills. Then the fact that in all honesty the whole crowd and the whole boxing business is going to emotionally and businesswise pushing for a Bernard Hopkins victory because Bernard is really red hot. I mean Iím one of his biggest fans myself, so based on that weíre going to have to dig down very hard because Bernard knows how to take advantage of every trick and every opportunity, whether itís physical, or skill-wise, or just psychological.
Margarito, even though heís been beaten by Manny Pacquiao decisively and brutally, Miguel is physically still a lot smaller than Margarito. Unlike Manny, Miguel doesnít dodge and dip in, and move, and punch from all those angles, whereas Manny being a small guy punches from so many different angles, and heís twisting and turning, and tipping, and he neutralized the physical advantages of Margarito. Miguel doesnít have that. He boxes a lot better now, but I think that Margarito is physically such a big guy and he applies such pressure, and psychologically heís going to be very much still up for this fight even though he lost to Pacquiao. Itís going to be a tough fight. Even though I think Miguel is boxing better, heís going to have to get some respect from Margarito because somewhere along the line early heís going to have to punch and stand toe-to-toe and try and hurt Margarito. In the first fight Margarito made him move and almost run at a faster pace than Miguel was prepared for, and I could see it in his eyes when I was doing the broadcast. When he would go to the corner, even though Miguel was winning the rounds, I could see in his face that he was like, ďWow! Oh my God! This guyís got me moving so fast and heís putting pressure on me. Iím not used to making anyone making me back up so fastĒ.
When Miguel would land his punches he was landing them and by the end of the combinations he was like trying to get away to get some space. Margarito was closing the gap again. When Margarito went to his corner he had a little run and he could see in his eyes, ďWhoa! I love this!Ē So thatís what we have to be prepared for, that we donít let Margarito dictate the pace and make Miguel fight faster and move away too much. He has to fight a very intelligent fight and must punch with authority to get respect early in the fight.
All three fights are some very tough fights. I canít make up my mind, but I know starting October 1 until December 3 I got some tough, tough fights and I have to be extremely focused myself, too, entirely just on those fights.
CIANI: When we had you on the show after Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal in their rematch, you told us that at a certain point you could just tell Bernard was going to win because he was so determined and so focused. One of the knocks against Chad Dawson has always been that at times he doesnít seem to have that type of determination. What do you do in the middle of the fight if you see Bernard Hopkins coming out with that same type of determination he had against Pascal?
STEWARD: Well you know thatís whatís happened. Iíve asked myself that over and over and over. Itís going to be very tough because Iíve trained Chad and heís a great talent, but he does have a tendency to kind of drift sometimes and go in and out, and thatís my biggest concern in this fight right here. Iíve been able to work miracles a lot of times with like Wladimir, when Iíd see him drifting and force him to knock guys out which would have otherwise went to the limit and went to a decision such as the Sam Peter fight and with Eddie Chambers. But in this case here thatís my biggest challenge is to have this man totally focused throughout this fight all the way, especially when youíre going to have a crowd that every time Bernard just makes a feint or something the crowd is going to go crazy. Maybe in between rounds he might start doing pushups again or whatever to keep the attention.
Thatís a rough job I have, not so much with the skills of Chad Dawson which is fantastic as all of us know, but to keep him totally focused and not have him drift off. Itís going to be a major challenge and I donít know really what Iím going to be able to do. Iím going to spend a lot of time in training preparing him for this. Thatís the best you can do. So when it happens and I talk to him he wonít be like what are you talking about. Itís a tough job in this case here, but I feel he has the skills to pull it off. Thatís my biggest challenge is just to keep him focused, in particular with a guy like Bernard with his skills and his mindset that he has. Heís a different Bernard than before. Bernard exchanged punches with Pascal, which shocked me. He was hurt twice, and even when he was hurt he never clinched. He actually fought himself out of the fog and actually wound up winning the last part of those rounds that he was hurt in. I feel I got my work cut out.
CIANI: Now the last time we had Bernard on the show, I donít know if you heard it, but he said: ďI donít see Emanuel taking any stiffs to train. That says it all! See youíre not fighting Chad Dawson. Physically you are, but youíre fighting Emanuel Steward.Ē Iím curious what you think of his comments there viewing it as a fight against you strategically, and if that helps perhaps even give you some added motivation for this particular fight?
STEWARD: Well itís probably the greatest compliment Iíve ever had in my career in boxing coming from Bernard Hopkins. I guess we have mutual respect for each other. Iíve always been a big fan of Bernardís. It kind of puts a little pressure on me though, and I feel itís unfair to some degree that most people are putting all of the winning or losing factors on me and not so much the fighter, and I think thatís not fair to the fighter because heís the one whoís ultimately going to have to do the fighting in there. Itís a compliment, but I wish it would be more on the fighter than myself. Nevertheless it is what it is, and itís very true that in this case here itís just about keeping Chad focused.
I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve that Iíve learned throughout the years, but also in Bernardís case I know Iím going up against a good strong corner with old school boxing people too between him, and Naz, and also they got Danny Davis so Iíve got three really good boxing minds that Iím going to have to go up against in addition to a really talented all time great fighter. Itís going to require a lot of strategy, but more so than strategy, mental conditioning for this fight with Chad. The skills are there, but at any point time Bernardís skills in addition to his other factors can neutralize all of these the things that Chad has going for him.
CIANI: Emanuel you mentioned Bernardís corner there, and Iím curious to get your views on how you would rate fellow trainer Nazim Richardson amongst the best in the game today?
STEWARD: I think Nazim Richardson is definitely one of the best. He hadnít been able to get with a lot of high profile fighters until he got with Shane Mosley with the great performance he had over Margarito. But heís always continuously been there with Bernard, even when Bernard had his other trainers, Bouie and all of those guys, they were getting all the credit but he was always there. Naz was always there working pads and doing things, and he didnít get moved into that top trainer position, and from there I think Bernard was helpful in getting him hooked up with Shane Mosley who at that time were all part of that Golden Boy situation. What I like about Naz is he learned his boxing from the grass level and still is involved with the amateur program. I see him at the tournaments all the time with his sons and all of the kids that he has with his amateur team that he has over there. So he knows boxing from all the way at the bottom dealing with the junior kids to dealing with the legendary fighters like Bernard. So he knows all of the tricks of the trade and itís going to be a real challenge going to wits with him. Itís like going in against Eddie Futch and some of those guys, but itís a challenge.
JENNA: Alright well Emanuel we just have a few more questions before we let you off the line, and I wanted to get your views on two fighters that were kind of intertwined earlier in their careers and both seem to be going in different directions. One is Jermain Taylor who is going to be returning to the ring this year, and there is also Kelly Pavlik who was known for beating Jermain Taylor and his future seems in doubt. Out of both of those guys, who do you think has the brighter future left in boxing?
STEWARD: Well from what Iíve seenóthatís a tough question! Boy! Wow! After Jermain has been more brutally knocked out probably than any big time celebrity fighters in many years that was considered such a prospect, heís one of the few fighters whoís been knocked out like that. Then with Kelly, I think Kelly is in more of a tailspin that it may be harder for him to get back on track believe it or not than Jermain. With his personal life from what Iím just reading and hearing too, because Iím right here in Michigan and Ohio, heís more out of control and I donít know if heíll ever be able to get it back, and get organized, and get in control again.
Itís a rough situation there because both of them were good for boxing. Jermain we thought was going to be the next Golden Boy for boxing and everything, the great athlete, the body, everything, and he went to the Everlast offices with big pictures all over the doors and everything, and then that fell apart with the loss with Kelly and we thought Kelly was going to be it. I mean he was your true blue collar everyday working guy, and then boom! Both of them are in a tailspin and itís unfortunate for them personally, but also I feel for boxing. I wish they both could come back to pick up some of the momentum that they had, but itís going to be more difficult for Kelly I think than even Jermain believe it or not.
JENNA: Alright well let me get your analyst views on a couple of upcoming fights this weekend and itís the heavyweight division. We donít usually see heavyweight fights on television, but the two of them will be on the Epix channel. That would be Alexander Povetkin against Ruslan Chagaev and also you got Sergei Liakhovich against Robert Helenius. Do you think either of those two fights will impact Wladimirís future as far as opponents?
STEWARD: I think yeah, definitely! Out of those fights somebody is going to have to wind up fighting Wladimir sooner or later just based on the way that the business is right now and with the shortage of heavyweights. Helenius I think will win his fight. Heís basically and fundamentally sound and heís been fairly active compared to Liakhovich. The other fight was Povetkin, and thatís a really, really tough, tough fight to pick right there but I would say Povetkin should win that fight, also.
JENNA: Alright now speaking of Alexander Povetkin he will be going for the WBA regular belt. In your opinion what does this belt mean if Alexander even wins it?
STEWARD: I think itís a disgrace to boxing, not just because of this because itís the heavyweight division. When you have a world champion and then youíre coming up and creating another world champion. I thought I was the world champion? No, we just gave you a title. Youíre the super champion, or youíre the platinum champion. Boxing is so confusing with four major boxing bodies and four champions, and now youíre going to start splitting it up and having two world champions in the same weight and same organization. Itís totally a joke and itís an embarrassment to boxing. There is so much confusion that if I wasnít just in boxing at the level I was, just as a general fan in the public, I wouldnít have any interest any more. There is too much confusion already. You were the WBA champion. Povetkin wouldnít fight Wladimir Klitschko because he never thought he was ready, so they created a situation where he can still fight and be world champion without fighting Klitschko and they did the same thing in the WBC where they gave it to Julio Cesar Chavez Junior and they created a situation where he could be a world champion without fighting a world champion. If we continue to do this, boxing is having its problems already except maybe for just the super fights, this doesnít help us at all.
JENNA: Well Emanuel I have one final question. 2011 is coming to a close. In your opinion what fights can the boxing fans get most excited about?
STEWARD: I think the two fights coming up between the two guys the public wants to see fight is the best. Iím really excited about Manny Pacquiaoís fight with Marquez and Iím very excited about Floyd Mayweather Juniorís fight with Ortiz. I mean those are two great exciting fights for me. I donít see anything in any of the other weight divisions that Iím excited about. If both of those guys could win, and I think both of those are dangerous fights for both guys. Neither one of those is a give me fight. I believe that Floyd Mayweather Junior will have to go back to what he did in the amateurs, because he is fighting a young fresh fighter. If he can do what he did when he beat Augie Sanchez when it was one of his tough fights to make the Olympic team and he did it! I mean he wonít be able to stay in his comfort zone I donít believe in this fight as much as he has in the past. I think he will dig down and show his real true grit, and there is a good chance he might have one of his best and most spectacular performances in this fight where he might have to start out a little bit earlier in order to get respect. But Iím very excited about those two fights. Those are the two most exciting fights and the only ones Iím excited about on that level for the rest of the year between those two guys who we consider the two biggest money makers. We always say best fighters all the time, but also biggest money makers in boxing.
JENNA: Alright well Emanuel, it has been a pleasure as always having you on the show. I thank you for your time and Iím looking forward to seeing you back in the corner.
STEWARD: Okay! Itís a pleasure being on the show as usual.
CIANI: Thanks Emanuel. Best of luck on all those tough fights coming up.
STEWARD: Okay, bye bye!
For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and thirteen minutes into the program.
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Article posted on 26.08.2011
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