Emanuel Steward shares his thoughts on Mayweather-Marquez

StewardExclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani - I was recently afforded the opportunity to have a nice chat with legendary boxing trainer, Emanuel Steward. I asked him about his thoughts on the upcoming mega bout between Floyd Mayweather Junior and Juan Manuel Marquez. Here is what he had to say:

Q: The weight limit for the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez mega-bout is at a catch weight of 144 pounds. Marquez has never fought at this weight before. In fact, he never fought above 135 pounds where he’s only fought twice. Do you think he will be able to properly be able to adjust to the weight and be effective?

A: I don’t see 144 as a real true weight for Marquez, to be honest with you. I think he’s really 134-35 is where he really matches out, but I’ve had gym workouts where I saw guys who are much smaller surprise the big guy, even quality bigger guys. In this case, Floyd is a bigger guy and he’s a good fighter. The 144 I don’t think will hurt Floyd that much, to be very honest with you. I mean, I’m saying I don’t think it’s going to weaken him. I think going into the fight Floyd will have a natural physical size advantage that, regardless of what they may weigh on the scales, his natural strength in good shape—I think that’s about 147-46 and Marquez is about maybe ten pounds less than that..

But the thing that’s the difference: Floyd is not a physical fighter. You know what I mean? He’s not a guy who really is very physical and roughs you up and takes advantage and uses his weight a lot and size, and that’s the difference. He’s more of a technical fighter, so therefore the size may not be as big a factor as it would be with another guy who was a more physical type guy, like say Kenny Norton was, or those types of heavyweights, or some guys like even (Julio Cesar) Chavez to some degree, who applied a lot of pressure and was more physical.

Q: In addition to being the naturally smaller man, Marquez is also 36 years old, and in my opinion, I thought he began showing his age a little bit in his last fight with Juan Diaz despite scoring a very impressive dramatic knockout victory. Do you think this is another factor that might come into play in this fight?

A: Well, I know Juan Manuel is 36 but I don’t think it’s going to be that big a factor. I see it as a much more competitive fight than most. I give a slight, maybe Floyd may have the edge a little bit on natural size, but it still almost kind of balances out a little bit. Don’t forget, Diaz was a very fast and strong kid, and he was very physical—he used his physical size a lot. He was bullying, getting him to brawl, pushing Marquez into the ropes—so he used his physical size. Even though they both were fighting as lightweights, he was more physical than Floyd would be. I don’t think Floyd would be that physical. So I think even though Floyd would have the advantage in weight and natural size, I don’t think he will be pushing him around a lot.

But Marquez is a balanced out solid professional fighter. The one thing that I look at in all of those Mexicans, and especially him, is we can never underestimate a thing called pride and emotions. He right now is, for the first time in his life, the star of Mexico. I think that feeling is going to push him a lot further than his normal talent would push him a normal fight, like the fights with Barrera and those type of fights. This fight here, with him being the biggest star now in Mexican boxing—at least that’s what I think—and the fact that he’s fighting a guy that if he can beat right here, would make him be right up there in his mind with Chavez and Slavador Sanchez and those type guys.

I think then he’s fighting for his country, like most Mexicans, and even more so this time—and not just for his country the way Mexican fighters fight but he’s also very motivated to be the superstar in Mexico now. That can offset maybe five or six or seven pounds, and the fact that Floyd is not physical—he doesn’t rough and bully and push much like Diaz did.

Q: Now Emanuel, it’s been nearly two years since we saw Floyd Mayweather Junior last inside the ring. Given his style of fighting, what type of ring rust do you think we might expect from him?

A: I don’t think we’re going to see that much. I just don’t see it. I may be wrong, but most fighters who are off from boxing who want to be off who still had their heart and soul in boxing while they were off, were still training all of the time, and were good reflex fighters—they don’t get as rusty as some other guys who leave and get into other things and don’t really have their heart into boxing. Like Sonny Liston and those guys who became champions, they didn’t really have the interest or focus anymore.

But (Muhammad) Ali, even though he was off for nearly four years, he was away from boxing, still had the want and desire, and was still training. I remember he even came here to Detroit one time, and one of the first things he said was, “Where is the gym?” We went down to gym and he was boxing and training, and Floyd, even though he’s been off, he still goes to the gym—he trains all the time. So those type of fighters—Ray Leonard was off, and he came back phenomenal and beat at the time the top fighter in the world—Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

So fighters with good reflexes and skills who are off but really have their heart and mind in boxing while they’re off and are still doing things is different than someone that just leaves boxing and they’re golfing, and partying, or doing this and doing that, and they come back just for money—that’s a little different. I think he’s never really left boxing, meaning Floyd—physically or spiritually. He might go out to nightclubs but I know he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke. He loves being in the party environment but he’s a clean man himself, and he loves going to that gym and training nonstop, and he’s been doing that even when he’s inactive.

Q: On a similar note, Floyd hasn’t fought below the 147 pound limit since he faced Arturo Gatti way back in June of 2005. Is it safe to assume, then, that you do not think he will have any problems with making a lower weight than he has in a long time?

A: No, I don’t. I think he will make the weight good. He’s a very conditioned guy. A lot of guys are now fighting fights where the money is. If it’s a good name match-up with another name, just look at this fight itself, and the fact that you maybe could have Marquez if he can win this fight fighting a (Miguel) Cotto or something, or even look at (Manny) Pacquiao and Cotto. The match-ups right now are being made because of name recognition and people thinking up dream fights, where the weights are just flexible. What I am saying is, some of the guys who are fighting maybe as a welterweight or a junior middleweight sometimes really aren’t that, anyway, and I think Floyd is one of those. Floyd has always been a right 143-144 pounder to me.

Q: Now coming into this fight, should Floyd still be regarded as the pound for pound king in boxing or do you think Manny Pacquiao has rightly surpassed him in that regard?

A: I think Manny has surpassed him. He’s been active. He’s fought top notch guys at their peak and continued it for five years, too, almost which is unbelievable. Where there was questions about Floyd not wanting to fight Margarito at the time, and there was no money he said with Shane Mosley, so he avoided a lot of those real tough fights whereas Manny, whoever they make a match with he just says, “Let’s fight!” I don’t care whether it’s been Barrera, and the fights with Marquez, (Eric) Morales, Ricky Hatton, Oscar (De La Hoya), I mean—he’s earned the right. He is definitely the pound for pound champion as far as I’m concerned, and not just because of activity but the high level of competition he’s continuously fought for five years and performed great in all of those fights.

Q: In your view, what are some of the most important questions going into this fight?

A: Well, I think the biggest thing most people are going to be concerned about is—what I’m listening to the general public, because I don’t have any super questions to be very honest with you—whether the size advantage that Floyd will enjoy will be a factor. That’s the biggest question I have, whether he’ll really be able to use that size and push around and take advantage of that because he may do that, but his typical style is not that. He is a very technical fighter and if you look at most of his fights, after the first few rounds, he is maybe behind sometimes. He paces his punches and takes his time very patiently, so I don’t think he’s going to use his size that much to be very physical even though he is a naturally bigger guy.

The next biggest thing is will the layoff affect him? I would say those are the two big questions I would have for myself. How much will the layoff affect? In both cases, I think the layoff won’t affect him that much and I don’t think he’ll be able to physically take advantage of the size that he has. So I can see this coming down to being a well contested fight with a small guy fighting a guy a little bigger, but the bigger guy doesn’t utilize his physical size that much and the smaller guy, I think, being that he’s had that activity level and that tremendous emotional thing that he’s going through being the big star in Mexico is going to pretty much balance it out to being a pretty good fight.

Q: Who do you think has the easier job in this match-up: Roger Mayweather or Nacho Beristain?

A: The easier job? I would say Mayweather, still. You’re dealing with someone who’s been a born fighter who’s been boxing since he was five years old, and he’s just a natural, natural talent. And he’s still fighting where, even though they both fought there a lot, he’s still fighting in Las Vegas where he’s very comfortable, where he lives, and the climate and everything is conducive, so I think there’s an easier job for Roger. I think Nacho’s got to train his fighter for a guy who’s bigger than anyone that he’s actually ever fought and then also the fact that he’s fighting one of the most gifted talented fighters in boxing.

But Marquez has won a lot of his fights because of his great ring intelligence, patience, and how he is able to dissect people, but he’s going in with a guy that does the same thing. Look at Floyd’s fights with Zab Judah, Oscar, and even Ricky Hatton—a lot of those fights, he was not ahead after the first four or five rounds. He systematically underlies and dissects his opponents and then he went to work, and Marquez does the same thing. So I think that the roughest job is going to be with Nacho.

Q: Based on the styles of the two fighters that we have coming into this one, what type of fight do you expect to unfold? What do you think we can expect to see inside the ring?

A: Well I think you’re going to see at the beginning a very technical fight. After about four rounds, I think both guys will realize they have to decidedly get an advantage and you’re going to see it heat up a little bit more and that’s going to be almost like typical of how both of these guys fight, anyway. So I think it’s going to start off a technical fight and become more aggressive and explosive, and that’s going to be initiated by Marquez more so than Floyd.

Q: Do you have any other thoughts on the fight you would like to share?

A: No, I just think it’s going to be an exceptionally good fight. I’m really proud of the networks for putting together these types of fights. They’re not all exactly the natural weight divisions, you know, they’re making adjustments and amendments, but they are all extremely competitive fights and all of these are winning fighters, not just record wise but the mindset. In this case here you’ve got Floyd’s ego battling to take back over his pound for pound status and you got Marquez determined to stay as the number one star of Mexico, which he’s always been in the background, always secondary to Barrera or somebody else. And he was still a top world class fighter when Chavez was still fighting, and I remember that very well. He couldn’t get his fight with (Naseem) Hamed that he wanted, so this is his big break right here. You’re going to see a lot of emotions coming into this fight with two guys who have winning mindsets and big egos.

Q: Last question, Emanuel: Is there anything else you would like to say to all of your fans out at East Side Boxing?

A: Nope. Keep supporting East Side Boxing, it’s one of the best websites there is out there. I just love the support that people are giving to boxing right now, especially in view of the fact that we don’t have any one big superstar like we used to have with an unbeaten (Mike) Tyson, and then you had De La Hoya. Fans are supporting boxing good, I think, and I appreciate it.


I would like to thank Emanuel Steward for his time and insight and wish him the very best of luck in all future endeavors both inside and outside the ring.

Be sure to tune into the HBO PPV this Saturday to watch the mega bout between Floyd Mayweather Junior and Juan Manuel Marquez.

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Article posted on 16.09.2009

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