Emanuel Steward: “If Floyd would have stepped it up I have no doubt in my mind he would have knocked out Miguel!”

by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - The most recent edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward who shared his views on a wide variety of topics including Floyd Mayweather Junior’s victory against Miguel Cotto, what’s next for Mayweather and Cotto, the upcoming heavyweight showdown between David Haye and Dereck Chisora, Lucian Bute’s title defense against Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch, the potential of Saul Alvarez following his victory over Sugar Shane Mosley, and more! Here is what Steward had to say:

His views on Floyd Mayweather’s victory against Miguel Cotto:

“I thought it was a very good fight for boxing. I was very impressed with Floyd. I thought he fought a very good fight. He did what was necessary, not just in terms of winning the fight strategy-wise, but also he did what was necessary to kind of reinvent his image as an exciting fighter. The Victor Ortiz fight was starting to become interesting and unfortunately there was the butt and that situation, but this fight here he I think not only established himself as an exciting fighter but was also an entertaining person in the ring. For the most part I’ve always said that Floyd made big, big money mainly from the 24/7. The 24/7 has been phenomenal! That’s what I really think, as he said, he created and he made the 24/7, and that’s what he’s made money from to me more so than electrifying performances. He himself admitted if he would have stepped it up, he probably would have stopped Shane, he probably would have stopped Marquez, and some of those other guys. He’s been a phenomenal attraction mainly from 24/7 more so than from his fights, but this last fight his performance I thought really made him a star that lived up to the star billing that he created with the 24/7.”

His evaluation of Mayweather’s performance and the type of fight that he fought:

“Well I think he wanted to show that he can sit there and fight and perform, and he took risks. I mean he took risks, but he was still real savvy with the way he was rolling with punches and picking them off. I thought it was a masterful performance on his part the way he avoided punches. Sometimes in the past he would just put his head halfway out the ring where you couldn’t hit him, like in the Ricky Hatton situation or even prior to the butt with Ortiz. But in this case he was rolling with punches, slipping punches, and punching back, placing his punches, and once Miguel would slow down then Floyd would take control again. I just thought he fought a good fight and it was exciting because with a lot of the fans who were not so close to ringside, they all thought that Miguel had been more effective than he really was. With a lot of those punches if you were sitting closer, you could see Floyd picking them and rolling. Outside of the bloody nose Floyd really was unmarked, and I thought that sometimes when the crowd would go crazy his head would like snap back, because he fights with his head high anyway. He has so much control that he likes to see and control everything. So that’s just his style. A lot of the effectiveness of Miguel’s punches was exaggerated to same degree, but Miguel came to fight and he forced Floyd to fight outside of his comfort zone, which is what I have been wanting to see for a long time. He came through very well. I actually gave Miguel maybe three or four rounds, but I mean it looked good from the crowd and the audience because a lot of people were comparing this fight to Floyd’s other performances. So he was still having a struggle for a change and we tendency to give the opponent more credit than he really deserved. But I thought Miguel did what he was supposed to do. If he had operated behind a hard authoritative jab I thought he could have been much more effective.”

On whether he believes Mayweather may have performed below par in order to change the image a lot of fans had about a potential matchup with him and Manny Pacquiao following Pacquiao’s controversial win against Juan Manuel Marquez in November:

“I don’t think necessarily. I think Floyd was really just feeling that good about himself in this fight. He was determined to put on a very dynamic show. In a lot of ways I don’t think it’s fair to Manny either, because Manny Pacquiao himself has been the really the most consistent face in carrying the sport of boxing the last five or six years. We can never forget that! He was fighting the best, and then on a consistent basis he was fighting the best, too. As far as picking his spots, and taking his vacations and his holiday, I think Floyd had about five fights in the last four years or five years. So we have to give Manny credit for that too, and when you fight the top fights on a regular basis, which is what Manny Pacquiao did, you’re going to have some bad fights sometimes! It’s like everybody is evaluating who is the pound-for-pound best or who’s going to win between Manny and Floyd based on their last performances. But Juan Manuel Marquez is always going to be a problem for Manny Pacquiao just because he has studied his style, and then Floyd beats Marquez easily but Floyd is a physically bigger person and a different type of fighter. But it’s just styles make fights.”

His views on Cotto’s performance and where Miguel Cotto goes from here:

“Well I thought Miguel was going to fight that type of a fight. Prior to the fight in all of my interviews I said that fight should be 7 to 5. There is no way it should be 7 to 1 because Miguel is still a top first class fighter. It’s unfortunate that when we look at his whole career, which has been an unbelievable fabulous career, we only see the two signature fights that stands out in everyone’s mind—the Margarito loss and the Manny Pacquiao loss. Those are fights where not only was he beaten, but he was beaten in a matter with the illegal hand wraps or whatever, but still the image of him going down to his knees and being beaten into submission in both of those fights has just stayed in the fans minds. So they just couldn’t see beyond that. And never having seen Floyd beaten really, they just decided in their minds he was like a 7 to 1 underdog, but I never could see that. Floyd was smart himself. Really if you look at the loaded gloves that Margarito had, which everyone has pretty much accepted as fact, and then you look at the fact that Miguel really starved himself trying to make that contracted weight for Manny Pacquiao. Floyd expected Miguel to be a tough opponent, and that’s what it turned out to be. I think Miguel acquitted himself very well and he’s still in big demand. He didn’t do anything to damage his reputation, and with a little more of a proper effort I think he could have won the fight possibly even if he worked behind a hard authoritative jab. But nevertheless I think his image is really high, and I think he will be one of the most sought after opponents for all of the other champions in the 154 pound division, and even maybe by Sergio Martinez.”

His views on whether Mayweather could have stopped Cotto when with about a minute left in the final round he seemingly staggered Miguel and had him badly hurt:

“I’m glad you asked me that question, Geoff. I think Miguel was hurt seriously. If Floyd would have stepped it up I have no doubt in my mind he would have knocked out Miguel! I feel very strongly Miguel was hurt! Floyd, he made a decision to just go ahead and win the fight. He had won it comfortably and did not want to take any risks. But I think it was the left uppercut. He finally found his range to come up between the gloves, and he had been doing it all night, but he turned Miguel and had Miguel hurt. I think another time he just moved away, which surprised everyone, and I think another time he was clinched. But he never did go all out to the extent where he tried to get the knockout, but if he had I believe he would have been able to stop Miguel.”

His views ono the effectiveness of Mayweather’s left uppercut in the fight:

“Well everyone that watches Miguel fight, it’s a known fact that has been his biggest weaknesses, is punches up between the center. The way that he fights with his elbows tucked out and his head down low, you know he catches punches on the side very well, but the punches up between the middle—I mean look at Margarito’s fights and even Manny Pacquiao. Most of the punches guys were hitting him with, it’s a known fact in the sport that that’s his biggest weakness. That’s why when I did train him I tried to keep him from fighting to low, and I made him operate with his body in more of a normal position, and operate behind a very hard authoritative jab. I knew that was the main thing that opponents looked for, because when he fights like that, he’s about a 5’7” guy or almost 5’8”, but when he fights that way he’s like 5’2” or 5’1”. To me he doesn’t move as effectively as he could when he’s fighting in a normal balanced out position. So as a result that’s why everyone tries to hit him with punches up between the gloves. Floyd had been trying that all night long, but it seemed like at the end of the fight in those last few rounds that fatigue had set in on Miguel both physically and mentally, and Floyd was able to start connecting.”

His views on Saul Alvarez’s decision victory against Sugar Shane Mosley:

“I thought it was a very good performance. He’s very a explosive and exciting fighter, and he creates a lot of tension because of his explosiveness and his power and his short accurate punches. The only thing he could do any better is maybe be a little more consistent and box a little bit in between, but so far what he’s doing is working good. So he needs to just keep on doing what he’s doing, but I like to see him fight. I like him because he’s thinking fighter, he places his punches, and he punches with full force through his target.”

Regarding how good he believes Saul Alvarez can potentially be and how long before he believes he would be ready for someone like a Floyd Mayweather:

“The fact that I was told Golden Boy doesn’t want to step him up yet means that they feel he needs to develop a little bit more, and I agree with them also. You know Shane is not old Shane, and I think with Gomez when he fought him showed a few weaknesses, and even the fight when he fought Jose, Miguel Cotto’s older but smaller brother, he was stunned in that fight. So as explosive as he looks, evidently there may still be some vulnerable situations in terms of his defense. That’s why I think Golden Boy is being reluctant about stepping him to fight guys like Floyd Mayweather. They’re doing a good job with how they’re bringing him along.”

Regarding his May 6 Boxing Clinic in Las Vegas the day after the Mayweather-Cotto bout:

“It was a good clinic. We had a number of people and we had food set up, but really we had more fun after going through the basics of boxing, talking about stories behind the scenes, and a lot of things related to the fight that had happened the night before, and the future of the heavyweight division. It was very fun and I had a good time. Plus the food was good that they had brought up, too!”

His views on the upcoming heavyweight showdown between Dereck Chisora and David Haye:

“Well first of all it’s going to do big numbers in terms of the money. It may be one of the biggest heavyweight fights in quite awhile, since David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko. I mean me myself, I want to see it! I think it’s going to be an exciting fight and with the emotions that boiled over and both guys being colorful type of guys, there will be a lot of controversy to it. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight!”

On who he would favor to win the upcoming Haye-Chisora fight:

“You know Haye’s got a little speed. Haye’s got speed and thinks well, but Chisora is a bulldog type of guy that’s going to be coming in. Both guys have kind of a tough street mindset. I would say a little slight edge would still have to go to David. Not only does he have speed, but David’s also got explosive hands too. I just don’t know if he can hold up to the consistent pressure of Chisora. Even though Chisora is not as skillful as David and not as fast, he’s a very tenacious type of consistent fighter. David likes to fight in spots, move around, explode, fight in spots, look to explode, move around. If Chisora keeps that consistent pressure on him he might take him off track and Chisora might be able to beat him. Also Chisora is a full heavyweight while David is not much more than still an oversized cruiserweight. I would give a little slight edge still to David, though.”

His views on the upcoming matchup between Carl Froch and Lucian Bute:

“Well you know Forch is a very tough guy. He’s an overachiever because his skills don’t match up with his mindset, but mentally he’s such a strong determined person and with the fight being over there in England, I see that Froch has a chance of winning it. But normally I see Bute’s boxing skills and superior generalship winning the fight I think by decision.”

On whether he believes we might see Mayweather in the ring against Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, or Sergio Martinez next time out:

“I think the most logical guy for Floyd will still be to clear up the hurdles and make the fight with Pacquiao. Sergio I feel is physically a little too big. Amir Khan? You know that could be a good fight! That would be an attraction because Amir Khan is really a big guy. Even though he’s fighting at just 140 he’s really a big guy. He’s very charismatic when it comes to talking. He talks and builds up a lot of hype, and he has the British thing and all involved. But I think Pacquiao would be number one, and number two would probably be him.”


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



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Article posted on 13.05.2012

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