Emanuel Steward: “Cotto’s going to have to have a definite solid plan because Floyd Mayweather Junior is one of the best all around boxers I ever saw”

by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - The latest edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward who provided his views on a wide variety of topics including James Kirkland’s controversial disqualification win against Carlos Molina, Danny Garcia’s points win against Mexican legend Erik Morales, the cancelation of the fight between Yuriokis Gamboa and Brandon Rios, Sergio Martinez’s recent victory over Matthew Macklin, whether or not Edwin Rodriguez is ready for the best at 168, and whether he believes that strategy is the most important thing for Miguel Cotto going into his fight with Floyd Mayweather Junior. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

His views on the controversial disqualification victory James Kirkland had against Carlos Molina:

“Well if you noticed I didn’t say anything during the broadcast because I was just totally, totally, totally confused. I know the referee is supposed to complete the count even if the bell rings, but when the corner man got into the ring he was proper in doing that if the bell had rung. I was just so confused when the referee looked like he was going to get a scorecard. I don’t know what he was doing. After talking to somebody on the other side of the arena, he comes over and motions that the fight was over. It looked almost like some of the Golden Boy people were telling him to disqualify him, and he did what he was told to do. That’s what it seems like it appeared to be. It’s bad regardless that it ended that way, and I really have so much respect for Kirkland himself and for Anne Wolf for saying they didn’t want that type of ending. They would rather have taken the chance on getting the knockout in the next round or so or losing it. But they were willing to take that risk. They wished the fight had continued. So I have much respect for them for that.

I was very surprised with the referee. You know he’s one of my favorite referees, but I was surprised he never caught on early to the pushing and shoving and holding being applied by Carlos Molina. He got away with it all night, and then he stops and disqualifies him for the corner man! It was not good for boxing. Let’s just put it that way. We had which was a big upset really, but I myself personally had always had the fight 50-50 because of the experience I had with Molina sparring at the gym. For Andy Lee’s fight with Bryan Vera he was the main sparring partner, so he’s been at the Kronk Gym a lot with us. He’s a tricky guy to fight. He moves back, moves back, and then he runs in and punches, and sometimes he’ll start and then he’ll change his mind and pull back. He’ll smother you, clinch you, and when you least expect it he’ll throw punches. He’s a very hard guy for anyone to fight, but nevertheless I thought there was a good chance he would do what he did and beat Kirkland.

I think they should have let it go on. In my opinion, it was a bad call the way they stopped the fight, and there was a good chance possibly that Kirkland would have won maybe by knockout, because he did have Molina kind of fatigued and worn out at that stage. Nevertheless it was not good for boxing. If I was Kirkland’s people I don’t know if I’d want to fight him again, because I don’t think they’ll do much better. I think Kirkland did the best he could have done, but I think in the next fight Molina would be a little bit more confident and more comfortable, and he would always be a problem for Kirkland. He may even beat Kirkland convincingly in the next fight.”

His views on Danny Garcia’s unanimous decision victory against Erik Morales:

“I was really disappointed with Garcia. He had a little bit too much respect and admiration for Morales. That’s my opinion. I thought that Garcia was winging his punches too wide, to the point where Morales was even trying to imitate him and making a mockery of him throwing all those wide punches. I thought that he should have jabbed a little bit more and I thought he should have stepped up the pace. Even if they had to have exchanges, I think with him being the younger fighter and physically stronger and bigger, that the exchanges would have favored Garcia. Even if they exchanged punches, with the weak legs of Morales he would have still been falling all over the ring and falling back and stuff. I think with the blows Garcia took, I think his nose may have been hurt. All of that was in the last half of the fight, but if he would have fought a more aggressive type fight I think the fight could have been over sooner. Out of that I thought Morales was somewhat like the fight with Maidana, he came out with more respect from me than the guy that he lost to.”

His views on the fact that the fight between Yuriokis Gamboa and Brandon Rios fell through:

“If the fight would have been made and everything would have continued on the course that it was on, I would have been satisfied that training him properly he would have had a really great chance because of his great speed, and I would have improved his punching power a little bit more. But I think his boxing ability and his speed and all of that extensive experience that he has, the fight really would have been like a tossup. Rios is always going to be a tough guy because of the mental makeup and physically. I think it would have been a good fight. I was kind of disappointed when it was called off, because as a fan I was really looking forward to the fight even more so than as a trainer because it was going to be our first, at least on paper, big exciting fight in 2012. So I was looking forward to April 14 whether I would have been broadcasting, or watching it in my living room here at home, or even working the corner. It was a fight I really wanted to see for the sport of boxing.”

His views on Sergio Martinez’s recent eleventh round stoppage victory against Matthew Macklin:

“Well his performance was good, but the caliber of his competition hasn’t been the best in his recent fights. Nevertheless he did what was necessary of him. But what I’ve been impressed by was that he made adjustments in the fight, in this fight in particular. He was throwing punches early and he couldn’t really get his range. When Macklin came out I saw an intensity and a desire to win that I hadn’t saw in that last fight with Barker. He realized that he was missing his left hand because of the way Macklin was keeping his right hand in position, and I guess Buddy and him were working, where Buddy was saying, ‘Stay low baby, stay low!’. He was bending over to his right and the left hands were going over his head. I saw Martinez make an adjustment and he started shooting his left hand at the place where he figured Macklin’s head was going to go to, and he started hitting him with his left hand continuously. He made the adjustment that he needed to do, and then his footwork and his rhythm and his great eye and hand coordination was just too much for Macklin, who has not been in the deep waters in the big leagues so to say to me. I mean his biggest claim to fame was losing a controversial fight to Felix Sturm. Beyond that there was not too much.

When I spoke to him just as I was leaving the arena, I asked him how he felt, and he said, ‘Mr. Steward, those last three rounds I was just confused and I couldn’t get myself organized’. I said, ‘Yeah, I mentioned that on the air if you ever see the tape. You were just totally drained both physically and mentally, and disoriented’. He said that’s what it was, because the pace that Martinez sets with his in and out footwork. It demand you be in physically good shape, but also mentally you have to be prepared otherwise he’s punching you from angles that you cannot time when he’s coming at you, and he makes adjustments. I thought Martinez fought a beautiful fight. It seemed to me after Macklin got his knockdown it was like that was his victory to some degree. I hate to say that, but as the fight went on he just disintegrated.”

Regarding Edwin Rodriguez’s victory against Donovan George and whether he believes Rodriguez is ready to face the best at 168:

“I definitely think he’s ready! I say that for two or three reasons. One, you go back and he had a great amateur background. I was there when he started winning quite a few National Championships. I don’t mean Chicago championships or New England championships. No! He’s very good and had a solid amateur background. I think another great asset is he’s working with one of the greatest trainers that I’ve ever saw in my life, Ronnie Shields, who’s now starting to get his recognition because for so many years he was working with Georgie Benton and all of the guys from Main Events. But now that Ronnie has his own stable, you know he’s getting his recognition. I think Ronnie’s been extremely good for him. I think he has just a lot of natural coordination and things that you can’t give. He has a certain arrogance and cockiness about him. So I think with that background he has and that training situation he has right now, he would hold up and be a very tough fight for any super middleweight in the world.”

On whether he believes the most important thing for Miguel Cotto is a good strategy going into his fight with Floyd Mayweather Junior:

“I think he definitely needs a good strategy to win the fight. I don’t know what strategy he and his trainers are using. I know in the last fight when he beat Margarito he just simply was really using the same thing he did the first time. He was just out-speeding Margarito because he’s slow. But he’s going to have a much more defined fight plan. The fact that Margarito was getting to him at the end, and really had almost started duplicating the first fight, meant that he was going to have problems going down the stretch over those last two rounds.

Cotto’s going to have to have a definite solid plan because Floyd Mayweather Junior is one of the best all around boxers I ever saw. He’s been good all of his life! It’s not like he just started. Since he was a baby he was always a good fighter. I know that for this fight Floyd is going to be very sharp with his speed, very selective, and he’s going to try and make a statement. As a matter of fact, I have so much respect for Floyd Mayweather for taking this fight, because he wants to do something big and spectacular. Since it wasn’t Pacquiao, to me the biggest and best fight he could have made, and maybe one of the riskiest, was Miguel Cotto. Cotto still is a puncher. He’s a seasoned fighter, and all the way around a pretty decent fighter. Also he draws. He draws them in for just live gate attractions. A lot of people may not realize that the following Miguel Cotto has is phenomenal. The Puerto Rican fans are maybe the best and biggest fans in the world. We talk about the Mexicans, but the Puerto Ricans are right there. They just haven’t had that many stars. The amount of people who are going to be watching on pay-per-view and live in terms of Puetro Ricans is going to be phenomenal because he’s a big draw.

If Cotto fights the right fight, one of the keys is going to be a good jab and he’s going to have to maintain balance at all times. I saw some highlights of him working out. I don’t know if that’s what he’s really doing, but it was almost like he was getting back to the same things he was doing before I got involved with him. But he cannot be fighting with his head down too far, and his elbows out, and his feet spread apart while he’s trying to bob and weave, because Floyd is too crafty for that and Floyd will systematically pick him apart. A lot of the intangibles favor Floyd. You know Miguel has to be careful because his face swells and busts up very easily. I was fortunate in the two fights I had with him he didn’t have any problems at all, but usually as a rule he busts up and swells up, and going down the stretch Floyd Mayweather is one of the most intelligent thinkers in the ring. He reminds you of Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, and he’s like Michael Jordan was in basketball. He thinks! His mind is clear, and this was all illustrated when all of the chaos broke out in the Zab Judah fight. Everybody involved was going crazy but him. So he’s got a big task on his hand, and strategy is going to be so, so important in this fight.”


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



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Article posted on 06.04.2012

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