Emanuel Steward: ďI hope Floyd realizes this is going to be a challenge and not just another one of these easy fightsĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 142nd edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who shared his views on the upcoming showdown between Floyd Mayweather Junior (41-0, 25 KOs) and Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs). Steward also touched on a variety of other topics including Vitali Klitschkoís tenth round stoppage win against Tomasz Adamek, Pacquiao-Marquez III, and whether boxing needs a super heavyweight division. Here is Part 1 of 2 for the complete interview transcript:
Article posted on 17.09.2011
JENNA J: Letís move to our second guest of this weekís show. He is making his seventeenth appearance with On the Ropes Boxing Radio. We are joined by Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward. Howís everything going today, Emanuel?
EMANUEL STEWARD: Everything is going fine.
JENNA: Alright letís talk about a fight you called just this past weekend, Vitali Klitschko versus Tomasz Adamek. It was a fight that a lot of people wanted to see for awhile even though people thought it would be a mismatch. Now that the fight has played out, what did you think of it?
STEWARD: Well the fight went pretty much as I expected. I was hoping for something different. Vitaliís a very tall man. He fights very tall and heís about the best Iíve seen for being able to handle smaller guys by using a jab. The way he jabs he doesnít commit. He doesnít step in. He like leans in the jab always keeping his body in a position where as soon as you punch him, heíll pull back and then heíll start jabbing you again. He moves his opponentsí heads very well where guys can never get in position to take advantage of him if he misses a punch. So he fought a good fight. Adamek was just too small. Itís a case where if you asked Adamek just to wipe the sweat off his brow, Adamek would normally need a chair or a stool or something so he can do that. So itís hard to see him being competitive hitting him on a consistent basis. He was just too small, and Vitali fought a very, very smart fight. After the first round I could see in the eyes of Adamek that he really didnít want to be there, and he welcomed the stoppage when the referee finally stopped the fight.
JENNA: Alright now with Adamek in this fight, a lot of people were saying Vitali could have stopped Adamek sooner if he wanted to, if he pushed more for it. In your eyes, could he have?
STEWARD: He could have, but that is Vitali. Thatís the way he fights. If you look at the Shannon Briggs fight, if you look at the Sam Peter fight when Sam Peter himself stopped the fight, thatís the way about 90% of his fights guy. He systematically destroys and beats the guys up. Heís not the type of guy who comes out and blasts you out, because he doesnít put combinations together like three or four hard punches. He doesnít do that. He puts maybe one right hand, maybe two, but he doesnít put punches together. Heís very effective with what he does that way, and thatís just the way he fights. He doesnít have the explosive one punch punching power like his brother, but heís a busier fighter, though, and he wears guys out a lot more.
JENNA: He has been very successful in his comeback. Do you think he would be boxing as well as he is if he didnít have those four years off leading up to this?
STEWARD: I do not believe that he would be boxing as good. I think the layoff did him great because he was saying that he was fighting with his body more than he was with his opponents and his sparring partners. His body was really in bad shape because of the injuries that he suffered from his years as a kick boxer, which is what he really was before he really got seriously into boxing. He was telling me about injuries with his legs, and his thighs, and his body was worn from the results of those injuries. So he rested four years and then his body healed up completely, so I think it did him well.
JENNA: Okay Emanuel, now what do you say to boxing fans out there who say Vitali Klitschko has more of a claim to the heavyweight title than Wladimir does, being he was a champion before he retired?
STEWARD: Well I think that the statistics are right and that it should be Wladimir. Wladimir has been consistent without ever having a break off, and even when Vitali was off, he was still fighting the top notch fighters. Even though Vitali fought Sam Peter, when Wladimir fought him the first time that was when Sam Peter was a prime Sam Peter, and Wladimir had to come off the floor three times. Those are the type of drama fights that Wladimir had to go through, and then Wladimir fought I think about five undefeated fighters that he stopped. So heís definitely, and itís not just because he has all of those belts. Heís been consistently active since 1996 when he won the Gold Medal here in Atlanta. So he is the one that should be the champion.
Itís so unfortunate with the heavyweight situation. With just one dominant fighter, like Vitali or Wladimir, cleaning up the division would create a major problem. But now when you got two of them! Itís like two of them gobbling up everybody. Itís made it even worse for the quality of the fighters in the heavyweight division. Itís not their fault. All you can do is be the best of your era and go up against everybody thatís there. You canít fight past eras and you canít fight the future, and thatís what those two have doneótheyíve been the best of this era. Itís not good for boxing. I was hoping the fight would be a good fight here with Adamek, and it wasnít. Then the fight with David Haye and Wladimir I was hoping would be a more exciting fight. So both of those fights didnít live up to what my expectations and hopes were, and Iím quite sure that my feelings are probably the same as the general boxing fan.
JENNA: Emanuel, with the whole mess with the WBA, and you commented on that before about giving Povetkin a beltódo you think boxing should adapt a super heavyweight division now? Just because it seems because it seems theyíre hell bent on finding belts for other heavyweights who are trying to avoid the Klitschkos, maybe that they should have their own division?
STEWARD: That is what these organizations should be doing! Itís definitely clearly been established a long time in amateur boxing, the differences between the heavyweights and the super heavyweights. I donít understand why they resisted against that when itís so plain to see in so many recent fights a good big man beats a good little man. You saw it when David Haye couldnít handle Wladimir, and Wladimir had speed to equal him plus the size. We saw it with Vitali being too big in addition to being good. Still they come up with all of this stupid crap with creating a super champion or a platinum champion. That to me is totally ridiculous, and usually I go along with most things. But that is something that I am totally against, and Iíve always been for having a super heavyweight division. The fighters are bigger and better coordinated. It used to be if a guy is 6í4Ē or 6í5Ē, but usually once a guy got to a certain size or height they had no coordination. Thatís not the case now! In fact look at the top heavyweights that are up there. You got Robert Helenius, heís about a 6í7Ē guy now, and you got Tyson Fury. Tyson is 6í9Ē, Wladimir is 6í6Ē, Vitali is 6í7Ē, and these guys are all fairly well coordinated in addition to having the height and weight. So there definitely is a big need for a super heavyweight division. You look at the dominance by Lennox Lewis and then the Klitschkos, all of these guys are 6í5Ē and up. When weíre looking at probably the next dominant heavyweight, I still feel number one is Tyson Fury even though a lot of people overlook him and play him down. Tyson Fury or Helenius or one of those guys, those are all big guys.
I donít like to go so much into the WBA, because theyíre like well heís just doing it because of Povetkin and Wladimir. Thatís not the case. I feel that to me itís a disgrace the way they are creating these two or three world champions in the same weight division. I mean Iím still confused as to why Sergio Martinez, who I thought was the middleweight champion of the world is no longer. Now itís Julio Cesar Chavez and Martinez is the platinum or whatever, the super diamond champion. Then they got the rules in some organizations that youíre a diamond champion when you unify all the titles. Itís just a joke. Itís so complicated that we wanted to explain on HBO the situation why Gamboa was not the champion even though he won the championship, and it was so complicated that when we were doing our meetings just trying to get understood among us, we decided to not even do anything on it. How do you think the public can understand it?
JENNA: From what youíre saying there Emanuel, do you actually think that boxing having all these belts, all these super champions, interim belts, gold champions, regular champions, and all of thisódo you think itís actually ruining the game because no one knows who the champion is?
STEWARD: Thatís whatís ruining boxing more than anything. Itís bad enough we have four major bodies, and you got weight divisions about every six poundsóI think thereís 105 pounds, 109 pounds, 112 pounds, 118 pounds, 122 pounds, 126 pounds, 130 pounds, 135 pounds, 140 pounds, but you have all these weight divisions as well as all of these organizations. Then when you have a world champion in all of these divisions you could possibly end up with a world champion and a diamond world champion. I mean itís too much confusion, and the fans after awhile donít even want to look at any of the fighters as champions. The belts mean very little, and I donít like to say this but itís created with greed and money. I donít see any other point. Itís nothing but confusion. Itís definitely not for the betterment of the sport. The damage that itís doing I think is terrible, especially at a time right now when people are so confused about who the champions are anyway. When they finally think they got it figured it out, then they find out they donít have it figured out.
JENNA: Okay Emanuel. As always when youíre on the show, Iím joined by my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Emanuel. As always itís a great pleasure to have you back on the show.
STEWARD: You know itís always my pleasure being on this show.
CIANI: Emanuel, I wanted to ask you with Vitaliís dominant win and Wladimir having a dominant win against Haye in two fights that fans had high hope for some type of competitiveness, whatís it going to take for someone to really test a Klitschko? Is it going to take a scenario where there is something unusual or maybe an injury suffered by one of them for a fight to actually be competitive with either one of them in the foreseeable future?
STEWARD: Well Geoff, I hate to say this but I think everything you said was pretty much a good summary of the situation. Itís bad! I donít see anyone out there thatís creating any excitement except Tyson Fury. I mean everybody else has got their own ideas, but Iím looking at all of them and I like Robert Helenius, also. But these are all European fighters. Very few people here are familiar with them. I mean I am more so than most because I spend probably a third of my time in boxing in Europe either training or being at the fights, and naturally I study when I go to the gyms over there. Whatís even worse, not only are the only credible fighters that we have coming up in Europe, but I see nothing coming up over here even in the amateurs. Itís funny. We were looking at that heavyweight picture we put on the screen with future heavyweights. I mean outside of Arreola, everyone else was from Europ. We kind of had to go through a little stress even putting Arreola in there, because every time he gets to a certain point he disappoints and falls apart. But heís the one that we promoted the most here. Tony Thompson and Eddie Chambers are preparing to fight, and I think both of those guys are good. At any other point in time without probably the Klitschkos, both of them would probably be world champions. But itís not looking too good right now and in the future. Iíve always said I thought the most talented of the American fighters was still Eddie Chambers. Even though he is physically small, I think heís the most talented out of all of them.
CIANI: Without that real interest in the heavyweight division for American boxing fans, they tend to turn their attention towards guys like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. In the case of Floyd, heís got the fight coming up this weekend against Victor Ortiz. I know Iím actually getting excited to see it. What are your thoughts on that fight, Emanuel?
STEWARD: I think itís a good fight for boxing. Ortizís name is not a big name to the general public, and he just really came on the scene with one fight. That was really the fight that he just had with Berto. Other than that nobody knew anything about him. I think he brings excitement. To me as a boxing person who has been studying the sport for years, because of his youthfulness and the fire inside of him, I think itís more than anything than Floyd has fought in a long time. Really you have to go back to the first fight with Castillo, which I really do still think Floyd had hand problems in that fight. So itís really not fair the way everyone said he got a bad decision. Even though it was controversial, I thought he was injured going into the fight. He proved himself in the rematch in the next fight. Nevertheless, this still is the first fighter that Iíve known of since then thatís coming in to fight Floyd with that type of energy and attitude.
CIANI: When weíve had Roger Mayweather on the show, he said that even a fighter as talented and good as Floyd is, when you keep taking these long layoffs you canít expect to stay at that elite level for a long time. What Iím wondering Emanuel is, for Victor Ortiz, what do you think his best chances are of pulling off the upset in this one? Do you think his best chances come early in the fight?
STEWARD: I think heís got to be prepared to fight, if he can, the same type of a high charged energetic fight that he fought with Berto. He needs to come out and try to force Floyd fight out of his comfort zone, pressure him, and make him fight faster than he likes to fight. Floydís a very intelligent fighter, and thatís the only way that heís going to be able to beat Floyd. Floyd is a great technician with a lot of experience, and heís gone up against the best, really going all the way back to í95 or something, and even in the Olympics. He was the first guy to beat a Cuban in the Olympics in a long time, and then he lost a controversial decision there.
So heís proven himself, but this is a new type of fighter. The type of a fighter that beats a lot of the great fighters usually is a guy with a lot of speed and a lot of energy. Kind of like what Cassius Clay did to Sonny Liston I remember at the time, when he came out all brash. If you look at history even the eighth fight by Leon Spinks in his first fight with Muhammad Ali, where he set such a fast pace and tempo that Ali couldnít keep up with him. Floydís biggest thing that you have to be concerned about, is if youíre winning so much for so long, itís a tendency for all of us to lose a little track of reality. Youíre confident when you have everyone around you telling you everything that sounds good.
These layoffs, they will take their effect I think. In this fight here I think he should be favored, but I think itís going to be a tougher fight than he had in a long time. If he wins this win very impressively, he would really, really score big with me personally. I saw him fighting and beating these names, but none of them brought the energy or the fire into the ring that I was hoping for. I thought Mosley was going to bring that energy into the fight because of the phenomenal fight that he had with Margarito. I thought wow, heís got a really good chance of really giving Floyd a really good test. But when we interviewed him prior to the fight in his suite, he seemed like a mild little old man. I just couldnít believe the personality change that I saw from the Margarito fight. His attitude was like he was just so glad at his age to be in a big super fight with Floyd Mayweather. That was his attitude as compared to when he fought Margarito. I donít know what happened in between.
Right after we finished the meeting Jim Lampley asked me, ďEmanuel, do you still feel strong about him giving Floyd a really tough fight?Ē
I said, ďI felt that way, but the way this manís body language and demeanor are, I donít think soĒ.
Even though he had Floyd hurt he never was physically or mentally there. Floyd said himself that, ďIf I had stepped up I probably would have stopped himĒ, and he would have.
I think this is a totally different fighter here, and I hope Floyd realizes this is going to be a challenge and not just another one of these easy fights, because if heís prepared properly Floyd definitely will win. I believe itís going to be a tough fight.
CIANI: Now Emanuel, previously on our show you have said that you personally believe Floyd would have a good shot at beating Pacquiao, but for whatever reason he doesnít seem to believe that himself. Do you think if he beats a young energetic southpaw like Victor Ortiz, who throws a lot of punches, and looks impressive doing it that he might come around and finally accept the fact that fans have been demanding this for years nowóthat heíll be apt to take that Pacquiao fight?
STEWARD: In my personal opinion I think everybody is close to closing a deal on the fight on both sides. I think the biggest problem that Iím seeing, and maybe Iím crazy, is they both have some tough fights coming up. I look at Pacquiaoís fight. Itís going to be a tough fight and I think Floydís fight is tough. But I believe that Floyd and Manny will come somewhere together on this with whatever, the performance enhancing drugs thing. I think theyíre coming together on both sides, but Floyd does seriously believe that Floyd is taking something. So itís not like heís just saying that not to fight. He really does believe that, and regardless of what anybody else believes itís up to him. If he feels that way we have to respect it, but he does believe that, though. I think that they will come together some kind of way and that the fight will take place if they both can get by these next fights. Thatís what my concern is.
If they do fight I think Floyd in my mind still has to be given a slight edge maybe, simply because of the physical size. Once again, weíre going back to these sizes. Even though theyíre both fighting at welterweight, I think that Floyd is a true solid welterweight. I saw him actually muscle Mosley around and I could heís very strong, and solid, and big now. Mannyís really still a junior welterweight. So I think the size might be a problem for Manny. Then the tempo that Manny sets is I think one of the tests that Floyd is going to experience in his fight coming up with Ortizóseeing if he can fight a fighter with that type of tempo and slow him down and make him adjust to his pace. So the fight between Ortiz and Mayweather is going to be a good gauge for a fight between him and Manny because they both can make exciting fights.
I think that Mannyís fight with Marquez, that style is always going to be a dangerous fight for him. The difference I see right now this time is physically I believe Manny is bigger and will have the strength and size advantage, even though they might weigh in similar. Based on the fight that Marquez had with Floyd, it just shows coming in at 142 or 144 didnít fit well on his frame. Itís like trying to put a Mac Truck on a Volkswagon frame. It just doesnít work. I just think his natural weight is nothing but a good 135 or 133 pounder, and I think Manny is grown up where heís a really good solid 140 pounder. Outside of the knockdowns, Marquez probably would have won those first two fights. One of them ended up a draw after he was knocked down three times. Still he battled back that well that he still got a draw in a fight he really won except for the system of the knockdowns scoring. Then the second fight he got knocked down again in one of those exchanges. Other than that he would have won in that fight. So probably in his mind heís won more rounds, but just due to those knockdowns and the system he lost.
So he believes that heís won both fights and this is his dream fight. This is the one fight that heís been obsessed with. When a fighter gets that type of fightólike Floyd was when he got his fight with Oscar and it was his dream from childhood, and we know what Tarver did when Roy Jones. This is the fight throughout this little rivalry Marquez never thought he would get, and now that heís got it heís going to come in unbelievably wired up physically and mentally. Itís going to be a challenge. Manny is a little bit bigger I think naturally now, but itís going to be a very exciting fight.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF 2 TOMORROW!
For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and seventeen minutes into the program.
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