Emanuel Steward: ďIf Marquez got his weight up and he can handle it, I think it will give him a chance to neutralize what I think is the biggest advantage for Pacquiao going into this fightĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - Last weekís 148th 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 recently paired up with undefeated featherweight Yuriokis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs). Steward spoke about his new working relationship as head trainer for Gamboa, and also talked about a number of other topics relevant to todayís boxing news, including Pacquiao-Marquez III, Wladimir Klitschkoís upcoming fight with Jean Marc Mormeck, a potential showdown between David Haye and Vitali Klitschko, the controversial fight between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson, Freddie Roach being on the Boxing Hall of Fame ballot for 2012, Amir Khan, Alexander Povetkin versus Cedric Boswell, Andy Lee possibly fighting before the end of the year, K9 Bundrage, Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, and more! Here are some questions and answers from that interview:
Article posted on 08.11.2011
JENNA J: Letís move things over to our final guest of this weekís show, and heís making an unprecedented 19th appearance to On the Ropes Boxing Radio as we are once again joined by Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward! Howís everything going today Emanuel?
EMANUEL STEWARD: Everything is going good today. Iím enjoying these last few days before I have to start going into my HBO thing and then to Wladimir Klitschko. Iím excited about doing the broadcast of the fight between Marquez and Pacquiao, which is a fight that I have eagerly awaited for quite a few years. That will be coming up Saturday so Iím excited about that.
JENNA: Now you mentioned youíre excited for that fight. There is obviously the buzz building with the 24/7 series. I donít know if you watched that, but what do you think is going on with both of these camps and have you seen anything that leads you to believe the result will be any different than you thought before?
STEWARD: Well first of all you have some situations where just the chemistry of certain styles are always going to make for good fights. You know Ali had that situation with Joe Frazier and also with Kenny Norton, and you had Gatti and Ward, and I think this is the case of just styles. The two styles mesh together and they would make for a good fight any time they fight. This is the third one, and the only thing that separates the difference between them was the four knockdowns scored by one, which was Manny Pacquiao. Thatís whatís given him the one point edge after 24 rounds of fighting. So just that alone suggests itís going to be a good fight, and when you have a fighter like Marquez who wants this fight so badly and never thought he would get the third fight, heís going to fight the fight of his life. Freddie Roach wants to shut him up and convincingly knock him out. Just with the history of those guys theyíve always been in good fights, so I just think it has all of the ingredients of being a very good fight and will probably live up to the expectations, unlike we had for so many other fights this year that didnít.
JENNA: Now Emanuel, one thing thatís very noticeable in the 24/7 is Juan Manuel Marquez has put on a significant amount of muscle compared to his fight with Mayweather Junior, where he looked not to be in the best of shape in terms of how the weight looked on his body. How do you think that could negatively impact with that extra muscle facing Pacquiao again?
STEWARD: Well I donít think it will hurt him too much, because when he fought Mayweather he was bigger but it was like trying to put a Mack Truck on a Volkswagon frame. Itís just his body wasnít structured for it. If they did it properly I think it could possibly help him, because the biggest difference I see in the fight is Manny I feel is naturally about 8-10 pounds of solid weight bigger than Marquez, whereas when they fought the first two times I thought they were pretty much the same. But in that time I think Manny has actually blossomed into being a solid 138-140 pounder, his real weight. Regardless of what he weighs in those fights thatís his real weight, and I think Marquez is still a little 132 pounder. When he was fighting his last title fight and we interviewed him and he was defending his title at 135, he admitted that he had a problem of getting past 132. So he was always still just a junior light weight at best, and Manny became like a junior welterweight. I just think that can be a big factor going down the stretch in a tough fight. If Marquez got his weight up and he can handle it, I think it will give him a chance to neutralize what I think is the biggest advantage for Pacquiao going into this fight.
JENNA: Alright Manny, well changing things from that to some news of the week involving you, apparently you are now the new trainer of Yuriokis Gamboa and people are getting really excited about that. I just wanted to get your thoughts on working with him and how you think you might be able to improve him?
STEWARD: Well itís always exciting when youíre working with a naturally talented athlete, and particularly ones whoíve had a great amateur background such as Gamboa. In the earlier fights in his career when I watched him, I wasnít that impressed. To be honest with you I was one of the naysayers I guess, because I thought his defense was not too good and also his balance. But seemingly the last fights I saw him in, heís improved. He seems to be focusing on being a more settled down fighter. His defense seems like heís been concentrating on and improving it a lot. I was just very impressed with what I saw in his recent fights, in particular that he had such unbelievable hand and feet and head and eye coordination, which are these things that you canít teach. Thatís what has gotten him by as an amateur I guess, but as a professional he seems to be maturing pretty well now. But Iím excited about it! I know the ultimate goal that theyíre going for is a fight which I was told may be even sooner than I expected, would be with Brandon Rios which I think is a tough, tough fight. Brandon is a good fighter with a solid amateur background. Even though he was not in the Olympics, he still had a good solid background and I know from these national tournaments that Iíve been at that heís a tough kid and heís a physically and mentally strong man. He doesnít just apply mental pressure, but heís physically very strong also. Heís going to apply that pressure throughout the entire fight whenever they fight, if they fight. So I look at it like itís going to be a very tough fight, but itís one of the big fights in our sport that I think could live up to expectations. So Iím excited about working with Gamboa.
JENNA: Alright well Emanuel, when people talk about Yuriokis Gamboa they his biggest flaw is his chin and the fact that he is defensively wide open enough that he gets knocked down and he doesnít take the shots that well. Youíve worked with Wladimir Klitschko for a long time who had the same thing about him, and you helped improve his defense. What changes do you think you need to make in Gamboa to improve his?
STEWARD: Well heís got all the gifts and coordination skills that you canít teach. I donít think that it will be that difficult. In his last fight it seemed like he himself has already decided that he has to improve his defense, and heís been doing it on his own. So I donít think that will be a problem.
JENNA: Okay. Well weíre also on the line, as always, with my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: His Emanuel! Itís a great pleasure to have you back on the show.
STEWARD: Oh, itís always my pleasure to be on this show, Geoff.
CIANI: Emanuel I wanted to ask you, the last time we had you and Andy Lee on the program you guys both seemed to hint at the fact that there might be a December fight. I was wondering if that was still on the radar and if anything is coming together with that?
STEWARD: Yes it is. Well Andy has made it very clear to me. Heís in training right now and he wants to fight in December. We were hoping to have something maybe around December 17, and it has been discussed that itís possible he may fight on the Wladimir Klitschko card on December 10. He will be fighting hopefully in December, but he would like for it to be somewhere on the east coast, preferably New York, Chicago, or maybe even in Detroit. But he definitely said he wants to fight before the end of the year.
CIANI: Now Emanuel you also mentioned you wouldnít be too disappointed if Andy Lee didnít get the fight with Martinez right away in 2012, because Martinez was looking for a big money fight.
STEWARD: Well let me say this. The fight that I want more than anything for Andy Lee right now is Martinez. If Martinez gets a big super fight with a Mayweather or something like that, fine! But other than that, if he has just a middleweight title fight then Andy Lee deserves it more than anybody else and we are prepared for that fight. Andy has fought hard, heís avenged his only loss, heís been a fairly active middleweight, heís been fighting regularly, and he beat an undefeated fighter and then came back with another tough fight. I think if he isnít fighting a super fight Martinez, then Andy Lee deserves the fight more than all these other guys. Heís worked hard. Out of respect for Martinez I would allow him to go ahead and take a super fight, but if he fights a regular middleweight fightóAndy Lee is the only person that I myself would accept.
CIANI: Changing things up a little bit, the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight wound up being a bit of a disappointment for fans. Iím curious though, before the bizarre and unfortunate ending to that fight, what did you see in the action that unfolded in what little action we got in one-plus rounds?
STEWARD: Well from what I could see the fight was more seemingly in Chad Dawsonís favor. He seemed to be more comfortable with the situation and in a little bit better control. What surprised me was that he looked so much physically stronger. He looked very physically strong and very comfortable. The biggest mistake he made, which I would have been very much aware of and told him not to, you donít get into contact confrontational situations with Bernard. Bernard is very smart, he knows how to fight inside, and he knows how to control the action when youíre in close with him. You have to keep complete distance from Bernard where heís moving around and losing his balance the best you can, like a Calzaghe. I saw right away when Dawson started leaning into him and bending into him, I said, ďOh my God! I know how this is going to end upĒ. You know, and it ended up kind of somewhat like what I thought would happen when he started moving in and not keeping space. Legally he did throw Bernard on his back in a manner where Bernard did actually, from what I could see, hit his left shoulder and elbow on the canvas pretty bad. So regardless of whether he wanted to say Bernard quit, it was an actual injury whether it was intentional or unintentional or whatever. The way the scorecards would have to read would be the fight didnít go four full rounds, and it was just a matter of it was accidental or intentional or a disqualification or whatever, but under no conditions under the rules could I see Dawson legally winning the fight.
CIANI: Now when we had Jean Pascal on the show after that fight, he said you have to give Bernard the benefit of the doubt on that.
STEWARD: I agree.
CIANI: He also said itís impossible to tell what would have happened there because Bernard often doesnít get going until around the fifth round. But to me it looked like Bernard was trying to time Chad for right hands. Did you see anything Bernard was doing that led you to believe that even though Dawson was having the early advantage, that Hopkins could have gotten himself back into that fight and taken control?
STEWARD: Well just based on Bernardís track record, he has been one of the greatest adjusters I ever saw for styles. I think Bernard Hopkins, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and Calzaghe of all the fighters throughout history, not just because theyíre part of the modern era, but theyíre maybe three of the best I ever saw for making adjustments to an opponent, so based on that youíd have to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I saw him do it so many times. In fact, in most of Bernard Hopkinsí fights at the end of the fourth round oftentimes heís behind. With De La Hoya, and I could go back and there are so many fighters I saw him be behind like that. He studies and analyzes his guys, and even with Trinidad he didnít warm up too much. But I think going down the stretch, this fight was going to be a little bit difficult for him. I look at the size, the mental state of mind, and the mental determination that I saw in Chadís eyes, and still the speed. I think it was going to be a very tough night for Bernard and very difficult for him to change gears and just change the fight completely, but you never can tell.
JENNA: Wladimir Klitschko takes on Jean Marc Mormeck on December 10, and I mentioned last time that some fans are down on the matchup and you said it happens to heavyweight champions. They have to fight these type of fighters because they run out of people to fight. How do you train Wladimir to face an opponent thatís significantly smaller than heís used to facing?
STEWARD: Well heís used to fighting small opponents, but not to this level. Mormeckís about six feet, and the rest of the guys have been around 6í3Ē/6í2Ē, but he fights as a small man so itís a little different. Basically he has to operate behind a good solid jab and be able to control the guyís head, which would mean to control his whole body balance if he can control his head. Hopefully in this fight heíll have an impressive knockout. I donít think heíll be as difficult as Haye, because even though Haye was outclassed to a certain degree, he was always seemingly determined and more focused on not being knocked out after a certain point when he realized he couldnít win. When a guy is just focusing mainly on not getting knocked out and has any kind of natural coordination and skills, itís very difficult to knock him out. That was what happened in the fight with Haye, but Mormeck I think not having that great coordination and speed that Haye has is going to commit more and could possibly be knocked out. But we still have to remember that only one punch is all it takes to change a fight, and Wladimirís losses were in fights where he was such a big favorite that they were almost supposed to be one-sided fights. The Corrie Sanders situation, as well as I forgot the name of the first guy he lost to, and in the Brewster fight he was winning so easily. So based on that, Wladimir is never going to underestimate or relax with an opponent. So weíll be going through the same routine that we went through for David Haye and Sam Peter.
JENNA: Now Emanuel speaking of David Haye, his name has actually come back in the news beyond his retirement. Apparently Ring Magazine is reporting that theyíre in talks for a potential March 3 fight against Vitali Klitschko. Do you think it will happen?
STEWARD: I think there is a good chance for that, but Iíve always felt that and once again it just reflects the situation of the heavyweight division. If you say Vitali should not fight David Haye, then who would you suggest he would fight? And you would say well, well, well, hmmmÖI guess David Haye is just as good as anyone. I think the fact that David Haye is a recognizable name, and Vitali is not normally accepted as having the great athletic coordination that Wladimir has. Maybe heís considered by most as being tougher and rougher but still not having that great coordination to move in and out and do what Wladimir did. I can see it being a fight that can be fixated in the mindsí of the fans as being a good fight, because he will talk and he will say he couldnít away with Wladimir moved back and forth, blah, blah, blah, Vitaliís not that fast. Vitali wants the fight! Thatís the reason theyíre going to fight, because Vitali was not satisfied with Wladimir winning a decision. He wanted to see David Haye knocked out. So even though many people feel he doesnít deserve the fight, the fact that Vitali wants the fight will make it an interesting fight. I may sound a little bit crazy in the beginning here, but I think as the fight gets nearer youíre going to see people getting a little bit into the fight. I would find it interesting myself, because of the lack of superior coordination that Vitali has. Even in the fight with Adamek, he was throwing a punch at Adamek in one of the rounds and just lost his own balance and fell down. It just really showed the sometimes not great footwork when heís going forward. The biggest thing Vitaliís got for him is heís a tremendous tough man inside, and he has a strange instinct of feeling when youíre about to punch and he can move away in his own awkward way and hit you at the same time and spin off on the punch as he hits you. Heís a difficult guy to fight, but I think David Haye and Vitali is a fight that I would find interesting.
JENNA: With there not being that many challenges out there for Wladimir and Vitali, there is a fight coming up in December between Povetkin and Boswell. Iím curious about what you think of that matchup and do you find yourself rooting for Cedric Boswell just because it seems Povetkin doesnít want to fight Wladimir whereas Boswell might?
STEWARD: Well I just canít see Boswell being that big of a threat to Povetkin, and it seems to be thatís the level of competition that Povetkin is going to fight now and we have to just accept it. Boswell is a fine guy and has camped with us with Wladimir on numerous occasions, but I just donít see him doing that well. But who knows? Maybe Povetkin is not all of that, that at least me in my mind, because I still think heís a fairly decent fighter. But the caliber of opponents that heís selecting! I mean I was looking at his other alternatives that he was selecting, and they were not that great either.
CIANI: Emanuel, itís been over fifteen years since you were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and this year another trainer is going to be on the ballot for the first time, and thatís Freddie Roach. As a fellow trainer, Iím just curious (1) do you think Roach deserves to be inducted, and (2) do you think he will be?
STEWARD: Well heís definitely deserves to be inducted when you think of todayís hottest names in trainers, itís Freddie Roach! Heís been with high visible fighters for the last five years since Manny Pacquiao officially jumped on the scene. Manny has been the hottest fighter, so naturally Freddie goes right along with it! His name is out there. Heís been on a lot of 24/7ís with Oscar De La Hoya and all of his fighters, and heís learned his trade. He was an amateur boxer, he was a professional fighter, an assistant to one of the greatest coaches and trainers in Eddie Futch, and then he really got there with one hot fighteróone of the hottest fighters weíve ever had in our sport. So based on all of that his name is out there and he definitely will be elected.
CIANI: Itís funny Emanuel, because when you think of Freddie Roach everybody does naturally think of Pacquiao, but he also took Amir Khan not long after he suffered a first round knockout defeat. Khan is one of those guys now whose name gets mentioned as being amongst the better pound-for-pound fighters in boxing today. What do you think of the work Roach has done with Khan and how Khan has progressed as a fighter?
STEWARD: Yeah, I think Khan has progressed as a fighter, but in all honesty too he was a brilliant amateur always. The knockout loss was just one of those stunning one punch type knockouts anyone can suffer. It wasnít like he was thoroughly beaten and dominated. He got caught with one punch and for the most part never recovered from it. Freddie has done a good job of teaching him basic stuff, but I think the biggest asset that he has had, which is what happened in my gym, is just having great boxing! When the best are working with the best, whether itís basketball or anything, youíre going to improve. His gym is where everybody is going to right now. Itís hot because of the great location in Hollywood, the weather is always great, the cameras are always there with some kind of special or something, all of the big movie stars are there. The best are boxing with the best there, so itís going to stay that way. You can take a normal athlete and just put him in that kind of situation and youíll see him improve. In this case you have a guy with a thorough background like Amir Khan from the Olympics and everything. Heís only had that one loss that was basically a one punch knockout. Heís improved and itís been a great situation, and Freddie did what was necessary to keep him boxing with these kind of fighters and heís brought out the best in him.
CIANI: Now Emanuel itís funny. A lot of fans still want to obviously see Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, but another fight that makes sense is a fight between Khan and Bradley. But all of a sudden the talk is, and fans are scared that it might play out this way, is that Bradley might wind up fighting Pacquiao next year and that Mayweather might wind up fighting Khan. If it did play out that way and if Pacquiao fought Bradley and Floyd fought Khan, who do you think has the tougher test between Floyd and Pacquiao in that instance?
STEWARD: Well I think Floyd would, I donít know. Itís hard to say because he hasnít really had a chance to have to demonstrate his skill in a long time completely. The Ortiz fight was just starting to get warmed up. It was going exactly as I expected and then boom! Then what happened. Marquez was just too small. Mosley was like he didnít even want to fight and just mentally wasnít there. So it would be interesting to see him in a strong test. It would be a tough fight. I think Bradley would be the toughest guy. I think if Pacquiao fought Bradley then Pacquiao would have the hardest fight, because Bradley is a tough, tough guy and a much more difficult guy to fight. Even though heís a small guy on the same level as Manny, heís a rough guy. I think that Floyd if heís what he used to be, would be able to try and pot shot Khan and Khan would try to use his physical size to overpower Floyd, which he may be able to do, and I like the solid amateur background of Khan. Thatís what I like more so than even when I saw as a professional. The fact that heís a determined kid and I think heís going to be a welterweight. I think 140 I think is history for him. Heís a big kid and heís going to push Floyd, but I think Timmy might be an even bigger problem for Manny.
JENNA: Speaking of Mayweather and Pacquiao, recently the pay-per-view stats for Floyd Mayweather Juniorís last fight were released. He got 1.25 million pay-per-view buys, and itís got a lot of fans questioning which fighter, Pacquiao or Mayweather, is the bigger pay-per-view draw. In your opinion, who do you think is?
STEWARD: Oh my God! These are some tough questions. I would probably say itís weird. As far as exciting fights and whatever, you might say Pacquiao. But Floyd does so great on those 24/7ís. As Floyd said himself, he is the King of the 24/7ís and he knows how to build up a fight from those. I think Amir Khan and Floyd Mayweather may outdo a fight between Bradley and Pacquiao on a pay-per-view, because in Amir Khan and Mayweather you have two good guys in terms of talking and promotion, and the British interest and the Arabic world, and then you got Mayweather who has just picked up a big general following from his 24/7ís. That would be a bigger draw I think than Pacquiao and Bradley.
JENNA: Do you think more people buy the pay-per-views to see Floyd Mayweather Junior lose or to see Floyd Mayweather Junior perform?
STEWARD: I would say about 50-50, because a lot of them want to see him lose with the excitement and intrigue he creates with all of the gimmicks he does with him and the money thing with him and 50 cents. All of those things are very well received by the public. I think even the incident, which is what happens normally anyway, with him and his Daddy. Those types of situations, thatís what everybody was talking about. The rest of the 24/7ís, I donít hear too much about them. I always hear what do you think about Floyd Mayweather cursing out his Daddy, what do you think about so and so, what do you think about what they did with the money. So regardless, he does a good job of marketing himself, and really he doesnít act. Thatís just Floyd being Floyd!
JENNA: Okay Emanuel. Letís turn things to another fighter in your stable, one we havenít heard too much about latelyóK9 Bundrage. Can you let the fans know the latest on him and when we can expect him back in the ring?
STEWARD: Weíre very frustrated with the way his promotion is going. As a respect for Don King we signed options with him when we didnít even have to. It was just a verbal promise that he would keep him busy, and right now he has not been able to get any fights hardly and they just offer him to fight mandatory defenses, like the one theyíre speaking about is Latimore. Thatís not going to happen. There are fights we could possibly get, but based on the people not making a deal with Don heís not really taking those fights. As a result weíre looking to make some kind of drastic changes, because K9 is a good fighter. He trains everyday and there are a lot of good fighters in the 154 pound division, and weíre very, very frustrated with the way his situation is right now.
JENNA: Alright Emanuel. That leads me into my final question. A lot of people know you as a trainer, but you also manage some fighters. What is the most frustrating part of being the manager of a fighter as opposed to just being a trainer?
STEWARD: No, no! The most frustrating part is being a trainer, because you see the decisions made a lot of times that are not good for the fighter in terms of image and in terms of opponents, but if the promoter find itís good for them sometimes to accept a certain fight theyíre going to benefit down the line with maybe another fighter that they promote or manage. So they sometimes make a bad fight for certain fighters and there is nothing too much you can do. Thatís why I enjoy being in the management position really more than I do as a trainer. Iím more famous as a trainer, but Iím in the Hall of Fame as a manager/trainer. But I enjoy the managing more simply because you have a little more input than you do as a trainer. Regardless of that, you try and do the best that you can. Most of the training situations that Iíve been in, at least a lot of them, they do talk to me and speak to me in relation to the opponent, where it should be, and the officials. So thatís good in some cases. In some cases they donít. They say this is who we got to fight and you have to just deal with it, like with Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman. I thought that was the worst fight in the world for him, but when they asked me in that situation it was a challenge. Whenever I pick someone that I favor to win a fight, and then to be offered a role to be the trainer and go against and change the result that I was predicting. I had that often like the rematch with Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello where I picked Arguello to win the rematch because I knew that Panama wasnít going to be there with any black bottles. Then when they asked me to train Pryor, Pryor said, ďI noticed you picked Arguello for the rematch!Ē I said, ďYeah, well Iím going to try to train you to not do the things that were making me pick him to winĒ. I have done that on quite a few occasions. I find it a challenge to work with a guy whoís an underdog, at least in my mind, to see if I can change what I was going to see if I hadnít have been there. So I guess I enjoy that, but itís very frustrating usually as a trainer for me.
JENNA: Okay well Emanuel, itís been a pleasure as always having you on the show. We wish you all the best going forward, and we look forward to seeing you back on world championship boxing on HBO.
STEWARD: Okay! Thank you for having me on the show.
CIANI: Thanks Emanuel. Take care!
STEWARD: Okay! Bye bye!
For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately fifty-nine minutes into the program.
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