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Geoffrey Ciani

The Legacy of Emanuel Steward Part 3: Perspective from Naazim Richardson

“I’m proud to say I knew the man. I’m honored to say I had a personal communication and I’m fortunate to be able to say that I got to see him work.”—Naazim Richardson

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – This is Part Three of an ongoing series dedicated to the memory and legacy of a remarkable individual, Emanuel Steward, whose extraordinary contributions to the boxing world spanned sixty years. In this installment, trainer Naazim Richardson provided his perspective and shared some of his experiences with the legendary Hall of Fame trainer. Here is a complete transcript from my discussion with Naazim:

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: Naazim, it was a sad day for boxing and we lost one of our greatest ambassadors in the sport when Emanuel Steward passed away nearly two weeks ago. I’m wondering if you could share your personal views on the impact that Emanuel had on boxing?

NAAZIM RICHARDSON: Well like you said, Emanuel was a great ambassador for the sport and a very intricate part of the sport as we know it in the last few years, and he touched on all facets of it in that he was, you know a commentator, trainer, manager, promoter. He was just in every detail of the sport, and like I’ve said, it’s a great loss but it’s one of those situations where we lose, but in a sense there’s a piece of Emanuel that’s going to exist forever in the sport from when he sat down and what he let the world share from the Kronk’s Gym on to when he was analyzing the fights as a commentator. So he’ll be with us as long as the sport is around.

CIANI: One of the things I remember that Emanuel said about you once, it was when he was still training Chad Dawson and he was looking forward to the challenge of going up against you, and Bernard, and all of the great boxing minds from your corner. He actually said it reminded him of when he was training Evander Holyfield and he had to go up against the old school corner led by Eddie Futch. One of the things Naazim, you’re known as a great preparer of your fighters, and I’m wondering if you could tell the fans out there how you gauge Emanuel when it came to preparing his fighters to give them their best chance at victory? Continue reading

The Legacy of Emanuel Steward Part 2: Perspective from Iceman John Scully

“I mean in 1981 as a kid I was reading about Emanuel in a magazine and watching that big fight, and then years later whatever it was, here he was working my corner in the gym”—Iceman John Scully

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani: – This is Part Two of an ongoing series dedicated to the memory and legacy of one extraordinary individual, Emanuel Steward, whose contributions to the sport he loved are simply immense. In this installment, trainer Iceman John Scully provided his perspective and shared some of his experiences with the legendary Hall of Fame trainer. Here is a complete transcript from my discussion with Iceman Scully:

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: John, a week and a half ago was a very sad day for the boxing world, and we lost a remarkable individual when Emanuel Steward passed away. As a trainer, a commentator, and an overall ambassador for the sport of boxing, when you think of Emanuel Steward what do you think of his impact on the sport and his legacy?

JOHN SCULLY: I mean I’ll tell you when I first started boxing, when I first started getting involved in boxing as a fan as a kid, he was one of the premiere trainers at the time. It was the late 70s and in the early 80s. So he had Hilmer Kenty and Tommy Hearns at that time, and the Hearns-Leonard fight was a huge part of my youth in boxing. So I’ve obviously been very, very aware of Emanuel since that time, and what’s funny is it just dawned on me the other day. After he passed away and I read one of his obituaries, it dawned on me one of his amazing feats is that when Leonard and Hearns fought the first time, Emanuel was only in like his mid 30s at the time as his trainer. He was training the beast that was Tommy Hearns in that huge fight, the trainer was only I think 37 or whatever he was at the time. I think he was 37. So putting that in perspective, I mean that’s pretty amazing in itself what he was able to accomplish at such a young age. Continue reading

Exclusive Interview with WBO Middleweight Champion Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin

“With Gennady Golovkin I can say he’s a very strong fighter, very determined, but he doesn’t put any fear in my heart at all”—Peter Quillin

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – I was recently afforded the opportunity to speak with the new WBO middleweight world champion Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs) following his title-winning victory against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (27-1, 17 KOs) last Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Quillin spoke about his performance, talked about his future, and gave his views on the current middleweight landscape and where he would like to go next. Here is a complete transcript from that interview.

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello boxing fans. This is Geoff Ciani from East Side Boxing, and I am joined here today by the newly crowned WBO middleweight champion of the world, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin. Pete, how does it feel to win your first world championship?

PETER QUILLIN: It feels great. It feels good to come a long way to have some kind of achievement to what my hard work has given me. But most importantly I got to know that there’s going to be some more fights in the future that’s going to allow me to show what my class is really about.

CIANI: Now Pete, during the fight, it appeared to me during the first three rounds that you had a little trouble with his rhythm and that you weren’t able to time him maybe as well as you would have liked to. Reflecting back, what was going through your mind during those first three rounds?
Continue reading

The Legacy of Emanuel Steward Part 1: An Irreplaceable Ambassador of Boxing

by Geoffrey Ciani – The sport of boxing lost a remarkable individual when Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward passed away yesterday at the age of 68. Steward of course was an outstanding world class trainer, a tremendous commentator and analyst, and an overall great ambassador for the sport that he loved. But with Emanuel, his total contributions to boxing were far greater than the sum of its parts. His passion and enthusiasm endeared fans, boxers, and fellow trainers alike. He possessed a very unique gift that enabled him to enhance the entire boxing experience for a whole community dedicated to the sweet science in varying capacities.

With his vast wealth of knowledge, experience, and a proven track record of success, Emanuel Steward was undoubtedly one of the greatest trainers the sport of boxing has ever seen. In fact, he trained and/or managed 41 world champions during his illustrious career, and this included two of the longest reigning heavyweight champions in history: Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. His long celebrated success was largely the result of his incredible boxing mind. Steward was simply masterful when it came to developing a sound fight plan that would give his boxers their best chance at victory. He also had an exceptional ability when it came to fine-tuning the existing strengths of a given fighter. This was important. Emanuel never tried to implement a complete stylistic overhaul. Instead he worked with what he had in front of him and always stressed the importance of fundamental basics, which included good balance and working behind a solid jab. This was essential to his philosophical outlook as a trainer. Continue reading

ESB Exclusive Interview with middleweight contender Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin

“A lot of guys get ready for me, and they get ready for the wrong ‘Kid Chocolate’ because I got many ways to my game that I can fight. I can bang, I can jab, I can use my speed, I can use my head, I can work with my defense—I can do it all!” – Peter Quillin

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – Last night I was afforded the opportunity to speak with middleweight contender Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin (27-0, 20 KOs), who will be challenging WBO champion Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (27-0, 17 KOs) on October 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Quillin spoke about his career, including his most recent victory against Winky Wright, his preparations for his first title shot, and what he feels he needs to do to be successful and capture his first world championship. He also provided his views on a variety of recent contests that have occurred in and around his weight class, including: Sergio Martinez’s victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, Gennady Golovkin’s impressive knockout against Grzegorz Proksa, Daniel Geale’s upset win in his unification bout with Felix Sturm, and Andre Ward’s one-sided showcase against ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson. Here is a complete transcript of what Quillin had to say.

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello boxing fans. This is Geoffrey Ciani from East Side Boxing and I am joined by undefeated middleweight contender Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin. How’s everything going today, Pete?

PETER QUILLIN: I am super blessed taking everything one day at a time. How are you doing?

CIANI: I’m doing very well. Thank you, Pete. You have a big fight coming up October 20 for the WBO middleweight title. You’ll be taking on Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. How do you feel about your preparations and training for this fight?

QUILLIN: I’ve been here already two and a half months, almost three months now, so I’m feeling in shape. I feel good. Sparring has been bringing the best out of me. So this opportunity coming my way, I’m going to be more than ready to knock down that bridge, and to go ahead and let everybody know once I rebuild the bridge, that it’s going to be a better looking bridge. It’s going to be a better champion that owns this belt. Continue reading

Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Preview & Prediction

by Geoffrey Ciani – Ever since Sergio Martinez scored a devastating second round knockout against Paul Williams, he has been gunning for a big name opponent. Unfortunately for Martinez, he was unsuccessful in his attempts to lure boxing superstars Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao into the squared circle. Therefore the 2010 ‘Fighter of the Year’ has been biding his time, having spent the last couple of years taking on lesser known competition in the forms of Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, and Matthew Macklin. This Saturday night Martinez will finally get his chance to shine when he takes on Julio Cesar Chavez Junior.

The son of a legend, Chavez’s career was initially viewed as nothing more than a cheap gimmick to cash in on his father’s name. He has since, however, shown vast improvement and began carving out a mark of his own. This was best illustrated in his most recent performance when he overpowered Andy Lee for a seventh round stoppage in June. Chavez is a big strong middleweight who frequently enters the ring well above the official 160 pound middleweight limit on fight night. He is a brutal body puncher whose sheer size and power have enabled him to officially remain undefeated through 48 professional contests. Continue reading

ESB Exclusive Interview with boxing trainer Virgil Hunter

“But as far as my personal opinion, and I think that I’m entitled to have my personal opinion like Steve Bunce or anybody else who’s a Joe Calzaghe fan—in my opinion we would have chewed him up!”—Virgil Hunter

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – Yesterday afternoon I was afforded the opportunity to speak with boxing trainer Virgil Hunter, who recently helped prepare and guide Andre Ward to his tremendous victory last weekend against ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson. Hunter shared his views on training and preparations for that fight, the action that unfolded in the match itself, and future plans for him and Ward. He also provided his unique insight for the upcoming middleweight showdown this Saturday night between Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Junior. Here is a complete transcript from that interview.

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello everyone. This is Geoffrey Ciani from East Side Boxing and I am joined here today by head trainer Virgil Hunter, who recently helped lead Andre Ward to his spectacular victory against Chad Dawson last weekend. How’s everything going, Virgil?

VIRGIL HUNTER: Everything’s going good today. How are you today?

CIANI: I’m doing very well, thank you. And I have to say Virgil, I was very impressed with Andre’s performance, and the thing that impressed me the most was the way he was able to neutralize Chad’s jab right from the get-go through footwork and upper body movement. I’m wondering is that something you specifically worked on in camp to take away Chad’s jab?

HUNTER: Well that’s one of the specifics that we worked on to take away his jab. Actually the position of his eyes in an area of Chad was the most important thing. If we had the eyes positioned in the right place we knew that his body would be positioned in the right place and that he could maneuver Chad. We wanted to maneuver his jab. We wanted to give him the target that we wanted to give him, so it was very important that the positions were adhered to. So his eyes were the most important thing in that situation, and we worked on that, and once we got the hang of where the eyes were supposed to be, and the position his eyes were supposed to be in and centered on, the rest was pretty easy. Continue reading

Exclusive Interview with super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez

“I want to be able to make a statement my next fight to get a guy like Kelly Pavlik, or Arthur Abraham, or one of those big names” – Edwin Rodriguez

Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – I was recently afforded the opportunity to speak with undefeated super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) who is preparing to square off against fellow undefeated fighter Jason Escalara (13-0-1, 12 KOs) on September 29 in a bout that will be televised by HBO. Rodriguez spoke about his upcoming fight and shared his views on his opponent. He also provided opinions on a variety of topics, including the chemistry he shares with head trainer Ronnie Shields, Andre Ward’s impressive victory against Chad Dawson last weekend, his idea on what it would take to beat someone of Ward’s caliber, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview.

Audio:

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello boxing fans. This is Geoffrey Ciani from East Side Boxing and I’m here with super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez. How’s everything going, Edwin?

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ: Everything is great. I’m here in Houston, Texas with Ronnie Shields having a great training camp.

CIANI: Great! Now you have a big fight coming up September 29 against Jason Escalara. You said the training camp is going great. So you’re confident in your preparations for this fight thus far?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes sir, extremely confident. Me and Ronnie had a really good training camp where we were able to sit down and learn a few things, and just get a really good game plan for this next fight. We’ve had really good sparring partners. I’ve been working with Cornelius White, who’s top ten in the world at 175, and Don Mouton and me did ten rounds on Tuesday, and I feel great. Continue reading

How would tonight’s Andre Ward match up against the Joe Calzaghe who beat Mikkel Kessler?

by Geoffrey Ciani – Yes! It has already reached that point. Andre Ward is so good we are forced to look into the past in order to find a competitor worthy of his attention. That is the unique distinction Ward has earned with his total domination of ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson. Andre now finds himself in a similar situation as the Klitschko brothers. They are so dominant, that debating how they would fare against current contenders has become all too predictable. Creating hypothetical match-ups where the Klitschkos are pitted against former heavyweight greats is far more interesting than discussing the length of time it would take Wladimir or Vitali to dispose of someone like Alexander Povetkin. Unfortunately for Andre Ward, super middleweight history does not run as rich or deep as boxing’s most prestigious weight class. Therefore we are forced to look back on guys like Joe Calzaghe or Roy Jones Junior circa 1994 in order to actually find someone who may pose as a perceived challenge to Ward’s still growing talent (no disrespect to Andre Dirrell and Edwin Rodriguez).

Yes! Chad Dawson was weight drained. And yes! Andre Ward probably should have taken the fight at the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds, but based on what we witnessed tonight, I do not believe it would have mattered whether they fought at 168, 170, 175, or hell, even 190! Ward simply proved to be a cut above Dawson. If the fight took place at light heavyweight Chad may well have possibly avoided the three knockdowns and made it to the final bell, but tactically speaking he had no answers for Ward. Everything Andre did was like a perfectly synchronized harmony. His movement, from head-to-toe, created a remarkable degree of elusiveness that Chad found impenetrable. This was abundantly clear right from the onset when Dawson could not find opportunities to even commit to his best weapon, his jab. Ward easily neutralized it from the get go, no adjustments necessary. Ward seized complete command of the action and dictated the fighting range to his liking throughout the one-sided contest. There was no one thing in particular that troubled Chad. Each and every thing Ward did worked, whether he was jabbing, throwing lead hooks, working the body with both hands, shifting Chad into position, owning the infighting, landing crisp blistering rights, slipping out of harm’s way, tearing brilliant uppercuts, or simply just keeping Chad wherever he wanted him to be. It was complete mastery of his opponent by Ward, and it all stemmed from his footwork and upper body movement, which were enough to neutralize Chad’s jab. Game over. Continue reading

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson: Preview and Prediction

by Geoffrey Ciani – It is a rare occurrence in boxing to see two elite talents both in their primes squaring off against each other. Therefore boxing fans have reason to celebrate, because this Saturday night unified super middleweight champion Andre ‘S.O.G.’ Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) will defend his belts against light heavyweight title holder ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs). Both combatants deserve credit for making this match happen, especially in a day and age where all too often the best are reluctant to face the best for various different reasons. Not only are Dawson and Ward two of the most talented pound-for-pound boxers in the world, they are also arguably coming into this contest following the apex of their respective careers. This just serves to further amplify the appeal of an already intriguing match-up.

The story in the lead-up to this fight has largely focused on the weight. This fight will be taking place at the 168 pound super middleweight limit. Chad Dawson is a big light heavyweight, and he last made the 168 limit for a fight more than six and a half years ago. As a result many observers have questioned Chad’s ability to move down in weight and compete effectively, and not without good reason. After all, boxers who drop weight often become physically drained, and that typically leads to decreased stamina, power, and punch resistance. This has helped create the perception that Dawson will be entering this contest compromised, giving Ward an inherent edge. The fact that this bout is also taking place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland gives the appearance of an additional advantage for Ward. Continue reading