Emanuel Steward: “I would absolutely think that Antonio Tarver would do better than maybe anyone against Wladimir”
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - Last week’s 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 a variety of topics, including which Klitschko he feels has the greater legacy, Andy Lee’s upcoming rematch with Bryan Vera, Hopkins vs. Dawson, Miguel Cotto’s December rematch with Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez, possible opponents for Wladimir, and more. Here is Part 2 of 2 for the complete interview transcript:
Article posted on 21.09.2011
JENNA J: Okay Emanuel, let’s change things back to Wladimir as you mentioned earlier. There has been a lot of talk who his opponent will be if he actually fights in December. I hear rumors that he will be fighting Mormeck, a former cruiserweight champion, and I’m just curious what you’ve been hearing?
EMANUEL STEWARD: Well I’ve heard so many names that have came up, and I told Wladimir whoever you fight you won’t be criticized. That’s just how bad the rest of the division is, especially after David Haye and the way between him and his brother they’ve pretty much eaten everything up that is out there. So whoever it is, it will be acceptable. Nobody is going to like it because nobody is going to create the excitement like David did by talking, but there is no excitement out there from anybody I see. I have no idea myself still who it may be, and we talk fairly regularly.
JENNA: From you standpoint, do you think someone like Antonio Tarver would be somebody that could sell a fight and get American fans interested even though he is grossly outsized?
STEWARD: Well first of all I’d like to see him fight back in America, regardless. We don’t have too much to choose from. We got Antonio and we’re back to Arreola, again. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Thompson and Chambers. We don’t have too much, but I would absolutely think that Antonio Tarver would do better than maybe anyone against Wladimir because of the fact nobody is going to be favored to do that much. But through Antonio talking so much, which he’s a good talker—he’s one of the best that’s out there in the history of boxing that I’ve listened to. He can talk it up and make it a big fight.
JENNA: Alright, let’s talk about another one of your fighters and that would be Miguel Cotto. His rematch with Antonio Margarito is on December 3. It’s going to be at a catch weight of 153 pounds. It’s going to be hyped up by a 24/7 promotion. Do you think this fight will be as competitive as the first one?
STEWARD: I can’t say. I hope that Miguel wins it easier, but I don’t know. Styles make fights, and once again I go to this physical thing. There’s a reason why you have weight divisions. I mean size is a factor. I think that Margarito is not the fighter he used to be, but Miguel has stepped in there and had some bruising fights too, and not just the fight with Margarito, but the fight with Clottey as well as the fight with Manny. Everybody saw how badly Margarito was beaten by Pacquiao, but see Manny moves in, and dips and dodges and punches from weird angles, and nobody else does that but him. But in this fight Margarito’s size could be more of a factor because he’s still a big man. He’s about six feet tall almost, and the weight is not much different. They made it 153 for some reason in this fight, and they should have left it at 154 as far as I’m concerned. Even though he suffered a lot of punishment with Pacquiao, he’s still a guy that is going to be putting on a lot of pressure, and pressure from a tall fighter is much different and more difficult to control than pressure from a short fighter. Miguel doesn’t move around and punch from the angles the way Manny does, so he’s got to be able to actually hurt Margarito and get a little respect in this fight early. Otherwise Margarito will force him to just do a lot of running and burn up excessive energy like he did the first fight. Even though Margarito suffered a lot of punishment in his fight with Pacquiao, I still see him as a strong talent and a tough fight.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Emanuel, going to one of your other fighters that has a fight coming up even sooner, this is one that you’ve been saying you’ve wanted for about as long as we’ve had this radio show, and that’s Andy Lee’s rematch with Bryan Vera. How excited are you that this fight is finally coming and are you expecting Andy Lee to make a statement in this performance for this rematch that has been building up for so many years?
STEWARD: You say all the right things. (laughs) Yeah, we’ve been waiting on this fight for a long time. Even though Andy’s had about eleven fights in between, this has been the fight that we’ve been wanting so badly. Finally once we made a deal with Lou DiBella,that was the main thing that we wanted. We told Lou, we want Bryan Vera, and he was saying, “Well Andy had such a rough, tough fight with McEwan. He got hit a lot”, and this and that, so he said, “Maybe Andy should take an easier fight?”
Andy said, “Definitely, definitely no!”
He told me to tell Lou he wants this fight. It’s the only fight that he wants and he’s not interested in any other fight but this fight. He wants to make a statement in this fight, and then his next fight he wants a fight with Sergio Martinez. But based on the performance, which wasn’t that super impressive in his last fight with McEwan, he didn’t feel he was in a position. He was sick going into the fight, but that doesn’t mean anything. People just saw the fight for what it was, but nevertheless he feels if he can come back and score a sensational win in this fight here, he’d be in a position to really standout and holler for a big fight with Martinez.
But he has to look impressive and not only just win the fight. Once again we have this style factor. Vera is the type of guy that might always be a problem with Andy. We’ve looked at the tapes of him. He’s just got a little style where he comes in, and he throws a looping right hand around the side, and then he throws a right hand through the middle, and he gets in, and he punches and pushes with his weight all while he’s punching, going full force. So we’ve been working and focusing on this fight as if it was a big, big super unification fight.
There is no way I can see Andy losing the fight, though, not so much because of skills. But just mentally where he is at this time and his state of mind that this is the fight that he wants, and his whole career is based on that. Otherwise Andy said, “I just got to pack up and go back to Ireland and start working with my father in the landscaping business, or something”. So with that attitude and the way he’s been looking in the gym, we’re feeling very, very comfortable about the fight.
CIANI: Now you mentioned Sergio Martinez as a possibility for Andy if he beats Vera in this rematch. I’m curious Emanuel, Sergio is a guy who’s looking for a big name fight where guys like Pacquiao and Mayweather don’t seem to be looking his way. Do you think Sergio might avoid Andy still hoping to look for one of those bigger money fights?
STEWARD: I think that Sergio, if I was Sergio and I was his manager or promoter or whatever, I would not want to be fighting an Andy Lee type of fight. I would want to be fighting one of those big super fights, and he deserves a big fight. It’s just unfortunate that it looks like it’s not going to happen, because he’s too big for one situation, and maybe too small for another, and he’s too good to some degree, too. He’s a big fighter that’s good when you compare him to some of the guys in the junior middleweight and welterweight divisions with the Mayweathers and all of those types of guys. Then I just don’t see him being big enough for the super middleweights. He’s really like caught in between. I think he’s really a full middleweight now, but he’s caught in between and he’s got a style that nobody wants to fight to some degree.
It’s funny. He’s a big attraction on the television, because he’s had some sensational wins, but for live gate attractions—he’s still one of these guys who really hasn’t become a big live gate attraction. I think if he looks around and he can’t get a big fight, I mean he’s the only big middleweight name out there. If he’s got to fight a middleweight it’s going to have to be Andy Lee! I mean these last two fights that he fought, it’s not his fault, but I think he cannot go back to a third one of these guys that nobody in the American public knows anything about. So with Andy Lee, when you look at the whole picture, it’s going to be Andy’s turn and that’s if he does fight and defend his middleweight title.
CIANI: Emanuel, I also wanted to ask you, you were in the news this past weekend when it was announced that you won’t be training Chad Dawson for the big fight coming up with Bernard Hopkins. I was just wondering, from a fan’s perspective, are you still really excited about this fight and seeing this matchup?
STEWARD: Yeah you know, when I work with a fighter I always keep myself kind of neutral to some degree as a fan, too. I think the fan part of me takes over a lot more so than as a trainer. But yeah, this is a fight that I find very, very intriguing because it was a fight that Hopkins has avoided for quite awhile. They were all saying that Bernard was afraid of him, but I never felt that way. I felt Bernard didn’t want the fight because it was always going to be a difficult fight for him and Chad didn’t have the big name that he wanted, and then the money wasn’t there. So that’s why he didn’t want it, but now it was part of his deal to fight for the title with Pascal, if he won the fight. That’s why he entered the fight. It’s not that he wanted it, but I think the style of Dawson is always going to be difficult for Bernard. But Bernard realizes that and he’s a real true old school boxer, and what makes him even more difficult to fight—he’s old school, and he’s surrounded by nothing but old school solid people who understand his language and speaks like him, and he’s in a very good comfort zone coming into this fight with Leon Tabbs, who was look at as a cut man. He was the guy who first told me about Bernard when Bernard first got out of prison, and since then I’ve always followed Bernard and been really a fan of his. He’s got Nazim Richardson who is a really good boxing guy with an old school mind, Danny Davis, and Bernard himself! So he’s got a good solid team going into this fight, and I’m quite sure he’s going to have a strategy of some type.
Right now I was just made aware today that Chad is going to be trained by John Scully, and I think that’s a pretty good choice because I think John is a good boxing trainer to begin with. He worked with Chad in his earlier career, and also the fact that they both live there close to home is convenient for Chad because he’ll be able to train and stay close to his family where he wants to for this fight.
We’ll just have to from there, but I’m excited about the fight because you never know what’s going to happen in the fight because Chad in his fights has been inconsistent. He’s fighting good, and that it’s like he goes on holiday mentally, and then he explodes again. In the fight with Pascal, the only one he lost, in the same round that they stopped it he was on his way to knocking out Pascal when he kind of woke up. Once he realized that he was losing, it just shows his talent! He came out and was destroying Pascal and then they had the head collision, and he wound up losing the fight. In this fight here he cannot afford to have those mental lapses. You have to be totally, totally focused 100% for the whole 36 minutes or whatever that he’s going to be in there fighting with Bernard, because Bernard is an extremely strong-minded man physically and mentally, he’s very intelligent, and he’s an intense man throughout the entire fight. That’s where the problem lies for Chad, but he’s still got his youth, he’s got unbelievably fast hands and reflexes, and his size is good, and he’s left-handed. All of those things, regardless of who he’s fighting, means he’s still a problem. With or without me, Chad’s still going to be a threat and a danger for Bernard, and Bernard I think is going to be very focused and very, very intense for this fight because it stands in the way of everything that he wants. He’s got the limelight that he never had before. Not only is he on the cover of Ring Magazine, I’m getting all my British boxing magazines, he’s on the cover of everybody’s magazine now and he’s got a lot of big plans coming up. He’s got to get by Chad before all of those things could become a reality, so it’s a very crucial fight for him.
JENNA: Alright Emanuel, we just have a couple of more questions before we get you off the phone. We talked a lot about the stars of today: Pacquiao, Mayweather, Martinez, B-Hop, the Klitschko brothers—all of these guys in their 30s and 40s, and from your perspective who do you think are the future stars of the sport that we’ll be talking about ten years from now?
STEWARD: Oh my God! I should have written a list down. I see a lot of good fighters coming up. I mean Donaire, you can’t just say he’s good. He just hasn’t been exposed that much. With everybody he’s just still a solid decent fighter as world champion. I go to the fights. I like to go to the arenas, me and Harold Lederman before a lot of the other announcers come in, to watch the beginning fights. I see a lot of good fighters coming up, but not so much in the heavyweight. That’s what bothers me. But in all of the other divisions I see a lot of good fighters coming up. There is a junior welterweight from Puerto Rico. I forget what his name is. He signed with Lou DiBella, I know that. He is a phenomenal fighter, but I look at boxing and I see the future of boxing looking very good with a lot of great young fighters when you take the heavyweights out of the equation. From the welterweight division down it seems like, not so much in the middleweights. But from the welterweights on down, I see a lot of good fighters coming up.
JENNA: Emanuel there has been a debate amongst boxing fans, between Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko, who is the greater fighter. From your perspective, when both men retire, who do you think will go down as the greater heavyweight?
STEWARD: You know when I’m watching and when they pull out statistics and things, it goes and shows Vitali. As Max Kellerman, my fellow broadcaster, was really going on about how Vitali’s never been behind on the scorecards, he’s never been off his feet, and a lot of this and that. Then a lot of people look, and even though Wladimir lost three fights by knockout he came back and I think avenged two of those. He is still the more talented, and gifted, and coordinated one. It’s going to be very interesting, but I think it’s a great situation for the two brothers to be up there and considered among the all-time greats and arguing about which one is better than the other. They enjoy that, themselves. There is still a lot of competition among themselves, which is good. They’re very competitive. Vitali was very upset that he didn’t get to fight David Haye, so if he gets the chance he would fight Haye probably even though Haye doesn’t deserve it, just so he can try to shut him up and beat him up better than his brother. So they do have a strong competitiveness.
I don’t think it will ever erupt or boil over to them fighting each other, because Wladimir said, “The last time we sparred, it was just so brutal. The ring would be bloody, and we would be fighting, and they’d call time, we’d still be fighting. So we just decided that’s it. We’re too competitive.”
I said, “That’s what makes a great fight if you guys ever fought”.
But he said, “One of us would end up with at least permanent physical damage”, and he said that very seriously.
But they’re very competitive, so they are going to be competing I think in the next few years by trying to outshine each other with opponents, in particular common opponents. But who will go down as the greatest in history? I really couldn’t say because right now I see a lot of people are pointing to Vitali because he did have that great performance and his signature fight in the fight that he lost! Lennox Lewis was his signature fight, and it’s funny. He got more credibility and was solidified by the fans from the fight that he lost more than any of the fights that he’s won. Now Wladimir has not had that signature fight yet. I think the signature fight was still with Sam Peter in the first fight, but people have forgotten about that. If he would have had a great fight and a competitive fight with David Haye then it would have been great for him, but it didn’t turn out to be that way.
JENNA: Emanuel I got to ask you about Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko. Just from your perspective, have you ever wanted those two to meet again in the ring?
STEWARD: Yes. I told Lennox after. I said, “Lennox, I feel that we owe it to Vitali to fight this rematch. Sometimes you fight for your glory and money, but this is a fight that we owe to the fans. We’ve made millions of dollars in boxing. We need to do this”, and Lennox was in agreement for it. Even a year after Lennox had quit, he and I would be talking about the fight and he worked alongside me in the broadcast for one of the fights with Wladimir. He would say, “Look! He’s dropping his right hand when he jabs!” He was talking to himself like really getting wired up and envisioning himself fighting Vitali, but his wife was the one that said, “Nope! That’s it”. It was like one of the conditions when they were married. She didn’t want him to fight anymore, but Lennox did have the urge to fight again and if they did fight a rematch it would have been an unbelievably exciting fight. I felt that if they had fought within six months time I still said Lennox would have won the fight because he would have had better time to prepare for the size. Vitali is a tall guy and he fights tall. He keeps his body in an erect type statue-esque position, and he walks that way. He’s very, very tall. When he fights he’ll bend over and it’s a little funny the way he jabs at you, but it’s a jab where he could always pull back and move his head at the same time he pulls back. Him and Lennox would have been a great rematch and I think it would have been an exciting fight. It’s something that after about two years I told Lennox to forget about it, it’s too late now.
Right at the time when Vitali retired, I said, “Well if he comes back and you were to come back and fight, this would be the time you guys would fight”. If they would have fought, I would have naturally went with Lennox. Vitali and Wladimir made an agreement when I started that if a Lennox fight ever came up with either one of them, that I would work with Lennox and they understood that.
JENNA: Alright Emanuel, I have one final question for you. People when they talk about you, they mention all the big name fighters that you’re working with—Wladimir Klitschko, Miguel Cotto, Andy Lee. But people don’t often talk about the lesser known guys, some of the young fighters you’re working with and some of the other fighters in your stable, and I’d like to give you this opportunity to tell the fans about some of the other people that you work with.
STEWARD: Well I have a few young guys, but there is one particular star I will tell everybody to look into without going into details—Tony Harrison. He’s a junior middleweight now. He’s like a combination of Tommy Hears and Floyd Mayweather. He’s a very exciting fighter. In fact he’s fighting on the 23rd of this month in Hollywood, Florida. He turned pro on the Wladimir Klitschko card in his last fight when he fought David Haye. He had three fights in July alone. He’s a very exciting fighter, too. Not just good, but he’s very exciting. I have other kids coming up, but he’s exceptional. And still in my stable I got K-9. We’re trying to get a fight for him. We call Don King up everyday asking for a fight, and we’re hoping he can fight and not have to wait until he fights a mandatory every twelve months. Hopefully we can get a fight with one of the other stars. We thought we had something with Alvarez, and that fell apart.
JENNA: Alright well Emanuel, it’s been a pleasure as always having you on the show and there are a lot of good fights coming up. I’m looking forward to seeing you on HBO calling them because you do an excellent job, not just as a trainer but also as an announcer.
STEWARD: Thank you very much.
CIANI: Thank you as always Emanuel. It’s been a pleasure having you back on the show.
STEWARD: Okay! It was a pleasure being on the show tonight, too.
If you missed part 1 of 2 of the interview transcript CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1
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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