Emanuel Steward: "David Haye was acting like a punk. He was falling down every time he got close to Wladimir, dropping to his knees and looking to the referee!Ē

by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 132nd 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 guided Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) to a dominant heavyweight unification victory against David Haye (25-2, 23 KOs). Steward spoke about the fight and also discussed various other aspects pertaining to the current heavyweight landscape, including the upcoming fight between Vitali Klitschko and Tomasz Adamek, possible future opponents for Wladimir, Robert Helenius, Alexander Povetkin, and the interesting fight that takes place in the division between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora. He also spoke about Wladimirís legacy and made historical references to support his views. Here is what Steward had to say:

His evaluation of Wladimir Klitschkoís victory against David Haye:

ďWell myself, I feel very good about the fight. I would have liked to have had a knockout as a lot of fans and everyone else would have liked, but it was just a situation where it didnít happen and for quite a few reasons. Part of it was the styles. I think the fact that Wladimir is such a perfectionist who tries to get everything perfect, coupled with David the last half primarily being in a survival mode made for a difficult fight.Ē

On whether he had a feeling this fight might go twelve rounds since he did not urge Wladimir to go for the knockout like he had against Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter in recent fights:

ďI could see at a certain point, really after the first round, that Davidís mindset was more into surviving and not being knocked out. I think he came out with an illusion that Wladimir was the same as Valuev, and once he realized that was not the case I saw his mind actually go into survival mode. He was basically trying a little head movement here and there, and as soon as anything seriously came he would drop down to his knees to avoid any confrontation. He still had enough head movement. I guess especially when your mind is focusing primarily on survival. Itís very difficult to do anything with someone whoís in a survival mode and thatís what it was. Wladimir is not the type of a guy that can go out and force knockouts the way that some guys do. Itís just his nature. His mindset is not the mindset of a Thomas Hearns, and sometimes I just realize what Iím dealing with and try to work within their personality. I just pretty much resigned myself to the fact it was going to be a twelve round fight because Haye was definitely into not being knocked out. He would just go back, back, back, back, and every time Wladimir would start getting into punching range he could feel it, and he would back up further or drop to his knees before Wladimir could hit him or whatever. So I knew it would be an ugly decision win, but at least he would win the fight and thatís what I accepted.Ē

On whether David Haye did anything that surprised him:

ďNo. He was exactly what I had figured. I was amazed that everyone had built him up to be such a fighter based off his talk. Itís really amazing what hype can do, and he didnít do anything that surprised me. I always figured it was going to be an easy fight. David Haye was totally out of his league with Wladimir, not just because of his size, but the all around professionalism, the experience, the skill level, and in preparing for the fight he was the easiest opponent that I had prepared for in a long time because he doesnít do anything but basically go back, back, have a little head movement, trying to do a little Sugar Ray Leonard type of moves, and then heíll run at you with a barrage of punches. When he throws his first punch heís always off balance because he throws his right hand and his right leg goes all the way through as if he was walking, and heís always out of balance and then he comes back with a left. With these big slow guys standing there, he can hold his balance and do that, but in Wladimirís case we were putting a lot of pressure on him cutting off the ring because he underestimated Wladimirís foot speed.

When we can see him punching, all we would do was make him miss the first punch. Instead of blocking it just step back and he would fall all over the place. That was just the thing to create anxiety with good foot work and cut off the ring, and make him get off balance. In the last part of the fight I can see he was dipping his head back, and moving here and there, and just more into survival mode, but he was very easy to figure out. I mean it was nothing complicated at all. I was just totally amazed how everyone had expected him to come out and be like a Mike Tyson. Thatís not his nature. Heís never been that way and when he fights big guys, he is seemingly fully aware and intimidated by the size of the bigger fighters and thatís exactly what he did. We figured he would fight the same way he fought Valuev and Ruiz and those guys, but they were very slow guys.

In his mind he and his buddy, more so. I refer to him as a buddy and his friend and his fan than as his trainer, and I mean Adam Booth. They just lived in a dream world. Everything about them was theatrical. It was all like a Broadway play. The antics of his before the fight, I thought he crossed boundaries with some of the things that he did with the heads cut off an all of that. A lot of fighters do things to build up hype. Every time I would listen to him speak, if I would close my eyes it would sound like Iím listening to Prince Naseem Hamed, like he rehearsed a lot of things. But Naz talked about how great he was and how he was so super, but he didnít cross the fine line of degrading people personally, and this guy went past that with all the comments about gang rape. Then before the fight I guess he had this video game he created where he was knocking out this big Russian. That was totally a degrading comment referring to a whole race of people, all Russians. I mean that was just totally stupid. It went up to when he was at the press conference. He brought in some guy. I donít know who the hell he was, but heís up there saying I wrap hands illegally like Iím using Plaster of Paris or something. It was just totally baseless stuff, and after the fight he still comes in and complains that his toe was hurt, but still prior to the fight, heís bouncing straight up and down about three feet off the ground in the ring because he was feeling so good. Then he comes in and he shows us his toe! They were distasteful and unprofessional before the fight. During the fight David Haye was acting like a punk. He was falling down every time he got close to Wladimir, dropping to his knees and looking to the referee! And then after the fight with the comments they were just very unprofessional. Normally we just take things as a win or a loss one way or another, but I didnít even want to be even be bothered with communication with his corner or anyone involved with him too much after the fight. Thatís how disgusted I was with them. It was a fraud on the public. If he would have fought more aggressively, and Wladimir himself laid back too much, but if he had been a little more aggressive or done anything the way that he spoke, it still would have been a very competitive fight.Ē

Regarding previous comments he had made where he believed this could be Wladimirís career defining victory and whether he believes it actually was:

ďNo, I definitely donít feel that. It was big hype but it didnít turn out to be the kind of career defining fight I was hoping it would be. I mean at this stage itís sad to say, but his fight five years ago when he was down three times against Sam Peter still is to me his most defining fight so far. I was very disappointed because this was the one that we wanted because of the unbelievable hype that had been built up with this fight as being the next biggest hyped heavyweight fight since between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. Even though in between there was a fight that has turned out now to be the last good heavyweight fight, but it wasnít built up to be that hype wise and that was Vitali Klitschko and Lennox. In fact Vitali Klitschko became famous and thatís his signature fight. I tease him about that and say the fight that made you, that made you this big star, is a fight that you lost with Lennox. You still havenít had a fight of that magnitude which really was outstanding and memorable to the fans since you lost to Lennox, and he looked at me and said youíre right. But this was a big disappointment between what the public was expecting and what I was expecting even.Ē

On whether he was at all impressed by Hayeís elusiveness and his ability to withstand some big shots from Klitschko during the fight:

ďFirst Iíll deal with elusiveness. He was elusive because his mindset was 100% into being elusive at a certain point, and when youíre just totally that much into not getting hit solid youíre going to be very effective with it. Itís not like a guy whoís trying to be both offensive and defensive. His mind was into just into using head movement and not getting hurt. The punches that he got hit with he never got hit solid because Wladimir never fully extended his punches he said because he knew Haye was going to use a lot of head movement. So he was not sure where his head was going to be as compared to if he was coming in more. So even though Wladimir hit him with punches that looked good to you, we discussed it after and he said he never really hit him with full force because he knew he was going to be moving and he was concerned about not getting off balance. So it may have looked good, but he never did hit him with a full force shot. I was impressed with Davidís elusiveness to some degree, and to some degree I wasnít because thatís what his mind was 100% into.Ē

His view on the fact that the Klitschko brothers now hold all four of the major title belts:

ďItís very unique. I donít think this will maybe again happen in our lifetimes, where we have two brothers who will have control of an entire division. I guess the total when you look at the Ring Magazine and the IBO title, then youíre talking about a total of five or six titles. Itís great and in a way itís not good because for boxing there are no worthwhile fights out there. The most interesting is Vitali now in there with really a cruiserweight, and thatís going to be interesting, thatís with Adamek. But historically for the brothers itís unbelievable! For a point in time in history, even though itís really kind of locked up the heavyweight division to the point where there are no more good fights, but when history looks at it, it will be great. We will be able to say we were part of the time when two brothers controlled the whole most major division in sports.

There are not many big fights out there. In fact I just spoke to Wladimir about an hour ago, and we were talking about the fact that Povetkin finally said that heís willing to take a chance now and he wants to fight Wladimir. So I mean itís to the point where there is not much to get excited about, and that may be an interesting fight. But at one point that would have been nothing, but just based on the fact that weíre looking for whatever would be considered maybe a decent fight or a name recognition fight is what the heavyweight division has come to, because the two brothers control everything.

Somewhere along the line I told Wladimir there is always going to be a big fight that comes up in the heavyweight division as long as you could hold those titles. Lennox was very much in the same position and it was very frustrating, and people forget his career was very much like Wladimirís. Then all of a sudden with a streak of luck, we wound up with a fight with Evander Holyfield just when Lennox was pretty much resigned to never having a signature fight. Then we followed those two fights up with Mike Tyson. He was very fortunate, but in the heavyweight division it doesnít take much to come up over night with an opponent as we have seen with David Haye, without even fighting or beating a worthwhile opponent, just through hype! Itís because the world is always looking for a good competitive heavyweight fight. So if anyone can come around and win two or three fights and have a little showmanship, all of a sudden weíll be into a very interesting public marketable heavyweight fight. Even though the guy may not have as much of a background or history or track record, the public is always hungry for a good heavyweight fight.Ē

His views on whether Tomasz Adamek has a realistic chance at beating Vitali Klitschko:

ďI can see this being a very competitive fight and I told Vitali as much. I said first of all Adamek is going to be moving unlike any of the opponents that youíve ever fought before. Physically heís not a big guy, but what he has going for him since heís been with Roger Bloodworth, they got him back to fighting the type of a fight that would make him competitive in a heavyweight fight and that is his ability to move. I saw that which surprised me in the Arreola fight. He had never shown that before, but he was moving, and changing directions, and moving, and punching. I said youíre going to have a continuous moving target, and heís going to be throwing punches. Itís not necessarily that they will knock you out, but to win a decision with that unbelievable support that heís going to have from the Polish crowd, and plus Adamek has guts. Thatís one thing heís had plenty of, and heís had a little preparation and heís been fairly busy the last year or so. With the Arreola fight, and Michael Grant, and some others, heís been fairly busy and heís been preparing all this time for a fight with the Klitschkos. None of these others guys, the Kevin Johnsons, the Sam Peters, and Sosnowski, and all of those guys are slow stationary targets, Shannon Briggs included. So this really brings a new challenge for him, and normally when you had a pro-Klitschko crowd your whole career wherever you fought, this will be the first time that you will have an anti-crowd against you and a whole country thatís going to be emotionally charged to cheer him on. So I think with all of those factors, I see it as a very competitive fight and not a one-sided fight where his physical size is going to be that much of a factor.Ē

His views on the upcoming fight between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora:

ďWell I wonít be able to work Tyson because I have an HBO assignment that same night with the very important fight with Amir Khan and Zab Judah. I think that unlike most peopleís expectations, that Tyson Furyís a very talented guy. We look at him as a big, oversized, very cocky kid. Heís only 22, but he does have skills. Just the fact that both of these guys have the mindset of winners, I think this is going to be one of the best heavyweight fights. Even though itís not marketed and there is no one doing a lot of excessive hype the way Haye did for his recent fight with Wladimir, this is the heavyweight fight that I want to see myself. I know both guys personally. Theyíre both very strong-willed guys much in the make-up of Ali and Joe Frazier. This is what makes good fights, not so much the skill-level but the mindset. I think itís going to be an extremely good fight. I know most people are picking Chisora and probably because of his more professional preparation when compared to Tyson, who in this case I think is training at home in the basement or the backyard with his uncle or whatever. Nevertheless, Tysonís sheer physical size, and heís got a good chin, good stamina, and good punch output, also. I think those factors, and being at 6í9Ē compared to about 6í1Ē is going to be a big problem for Dereck to overcome. I may be a little crazy, but I give a slight edge to Tyson in this fight mainly because of the physical size and he has good stamina.Ē

On whether he believes Dereck Chisora might get another opportunity to sign for a fight with Wladimir if Chisora beats Tyson Fury:

ďWladimir has indicated that he has no problem fighting with Chisora. I donít think Tyson is that interested. I think Tyson feels that heís young and he wants to finish winning all of these European and British championships first. So thatís his attitude, whereas Chisora if he wins definitely wants to and most likely will get a chance to fight with Wladimir. Povetkin has said heís now mentally ready to fight Wladimir. There is a good chance that you might see Wladimirís next fight against Povetkin or Chisora if he wins, not so much I donít think with Tyson, because if Tyson wins heís going to continue to build up his record and gain experience.Ē

Regarding when he believes Wladimir will be returning to the ring:

ďWell Wladimir has indicated to me that he would like to be back in the ring in December. He doesnít like having this much time off. There is a fairly good possibility that you might see him around the December 15 area, or somewhere during the first week or first half of December, possibly.Ē

Regarding who believes currently poses the biggest threat to Wladimir Klitschko in the heavyweight division:

ďThatís exactly what I was thinking when we were talking about when he will be fighting again. The bigger problem and question is who more so than when. This is something. Iíve never seen anything like this in my life where you got the champion of the world, and when I looked at the ratings I said oh my God! I mean look at these guys! Some of them like Povetkin donít want to fight you. Then we have an elimination from the IBF between two guys that heís already defeated by knockout. So theyíre fighting to see who can fight you again. We just went through the whole list in the ratings and I never saw anything like it! There is nothing that is really challenging to Wladimir and there is no fan appeal. So itís almost like he just has to hope someone can build himself up and he doesnít really have a worthy challenger. Even Povetkin is really just a case of finally agreeing to fight, because I think the public doesnít want to see him in any more of these easy fights heís had and he embarrassed himself by turning down a couple of million before. I think there is a very good chance you might see Povetkin believe it or not. Itís not a case of it possibly being exciting on paper, but itís the only thing that he has out there.

This is the heavyweight division and it happens often in history. I remember Larry Holmes to some degree had a period where he was the same way. He had this great fight at the time when he won the title with Kenny Norton, and then he went through a period without too many exciting challengers. He had two fights with a lot of hype with Gerry Cooney and Muhammad Ali, but really he had a very similar situation himself, also. Then Joe Louis has his ďBum of the Month ClubĒ as they called it in his time because he was out there without a worthy challenger, but thatís heavyweight boxing. We once had a great Golden Era at the time when Ali was there which was very unusual with so many great heavyweights with Ali, and Shavers, and Norton, and Joe Frazier, but normally the heavyweight division has these periods. This is maybe one of the worst that Iíve ever seen in my life, but you canít faulty the Klitschkos for it. Itís just one of those situations with between the two of them together fighting and beating everyone up. It was bad enough when it was just one brother, because he was fighting maybe two times a year or maybe three. Now between the two brothers, both of them are fighting two times and three times a year and that means there is just double elimination of worthy challengers.Ē

His views on Robert Helenius as a fighter and whether he believes he can potentially pose a threat to one of the Klitschkos:

ďI like Robert Helenius. Whatís interesting is all of the guys coming up seem to be all from Europe right now. Whereas we see heavyweight boxing as bad to us over here in America, but over there in Europe itís kind of thriving. There are quite a few fighters over there that I see, but Helenius is a tall fighter. I think heís taller than Wladimir. He boxes in an upright position very similar to Wladimir, he has a good right hand, and I see him. If youíre not a hardcore fan, the general public here in America here donít have any idea of who he is. I see him as a worthy challenger, but itís not something that could be marketable too much outside of probably Germany.Ē

On what he has to say to all the fans who were disappointed that Klitschko-Haye did not seem to rejuvenate the heavyweight division the way they had hoped:

ďWell there is not too much I could say. I was just as disappointed as a lot of the fans were, but when I saw the chemistry of the two styles I knew that the fight was not going to be an exciting fight. After the first four rounds there I could see that David there was a certain stage when he realized all of this fantasy type of a fight he had created in his mind, of him fighting a Valuev type fight and Wladimir being slow and clumsy and him hitting him at will. He realized that was not the case. I saw his mind go into survival mode and I know that Wladimir is not the type of guy who is going to be overly aggressive the way some fighters are, and I said oh boy! I can see in the last half it was almost an Ibraigmov and Wladimir Klitschko type of situation. So I was very disappointed as a fan, but I just have to accept it for what it is and hopefully someone can come out of somewhere and create the excitement and we can eventually get the type of heavyweight that everyone was looking for in this last fight.Ē


For those interested in listening to the Emanuel Steward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately sixteen minutes into the program.



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Article posted on 08.07.2011

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