Emanuel Steward Talks About Klitschko-Briggs

07.07.06 - By Troy Ondrizek: Finally, the IBF heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Shannon Briggs became official today. So now with that news in stow, we can speculate, debate, and anticipate all we want. Thus, I decided to be nosy and call a manager friend of mine to find out what he thought of this fight, and he was on the phone trying to work one of his fighters into the undercard. Therefore, I said that I would catch him later, and he told me to wait, and that he had someone he would like me to talk to. I said okay, and to my surprise, it was Emmanuel Steward. I was caught a little off guard, but was able to throw some questions at him regarding the fight and how he thought things would transpire.

Troy: Emanuel, First off, congratulations on getting Wladimir an exciting title defense. Now for the more pertinent questions, what stylistic problems does Shannon pose for Wladimir?

Emanuel Steward: “Well, Shannon is big and fast and works off the jab and does a good job of throwing combinations. Shannon’s power is also right up there with Wladimir’s.”

Troy: Fans are saying that this fight shouldn’t happen due to the fact that Shannon hasn’t really beaten any credible opponents to this point. So why pick someone like Shannon Briggs over say Calvin Brock?

Emanuel Steward: “Well, Troy, you are right about Briggs not fighting any credible opponents to get here, but he is ranked and is always dangerous. Calvin’s last performance was horrible and we had Wlad slated to fight in New York and this fight is far more exciting than one with Brock. We needed to get a ranked opponent and we weren’t going to wait to see if Calvin was going to win or lose, but when we saw his fight, we knew that Calvin isn’t going to be a draw anywhere, even Madison Square Garden. Trust me, Troy, I would much rather be fighting Brock than Shannon. Briggs is so much more difficult and dangerous of an opponent than Calvin is. Calvin doesn’t do anything really well and his footwork isn’t good. Shannon is stronger and faster than Calvin is. Plus, you know that guys that aren’t always rated as the best can shock everybody and beat the best.”

Troy: Are you referring to the Sergei Liakhovich coming out of nowhere to win in spectacular fashion against Lamon Brewster?

Emanuel Steward: “No, I wasn’t but that is the perfect example. Liakhovich had such a long layoff and came back and proved how good he was, even though, he was largely unknown. Shannon, though, has been busy and we can expect to see a sharp Briggs in the ring.”

Troy: Emanuel, would you employ a similar game plan against Briggs as you did against the heavy-handed Samuel Peter?

Emanuel Steward: “Well, Troy, how can I put this..No! Peter is a one-dimensional fighter, who does nothing but club at his opponents. Peter doesn’t throw combinations, he doesn’t jab, and he doesn’t go to the body. All that you have to worry about is Peter clubbing you in the back of the head during a clinch. Shannon comes out strong and for four rounds or so is quite possibly the most dangerous fighter there is. Wladimir in facing Briggs and Chris Byrd has faced the two toughest styles out there today. Byrd is a very skilled technician, who uses his superior movement to elude and counter, and Briggs is about as fast and strong as they come and is in your face. No one can question Wladimir’s willingness to take on the toughest fights out there. And for all of those who doubt how dangerous Shannon is, I was there when Shannon had Lennox out on his feet early. I definitely know how dangerous Shannon is.”

Troy: Without having to divulge too much information, what is your fight-plan to defeat Briggs?

Emanuel Steward: “Our plan will be to survive the first few rounds and then control the pace of the fight and to try to take Shannon out, if given the chance. If a knockout is not available, we feel comfortable taking Shannon on with our boxing ability. We would prefer to get Shannon out of there, because he is always dangerous, given his big punch.”

Troy: What is your prediction on the outcome of this fight?

Emanuel Steward: “The first couple of rounds will be a live or die scenario for both men, and the entire fight will be more exciting than what fans are used to seeing in a heavyweight title fight. I, of course, like our man to come on top.”

Troy: Emanuel, thank you very much for taking the time out to talk to Eastsideboxing and good luck in your upcoming bouts.

Emanuel Steward: “Troy, thank you for having me on your site, and thank you and I thank the fans for continuing to support Wladimir as he continues to prove he is the best in the division.”

Whether or not you like the fact that Briggs got a title shot with Klitschko, two things can be said of this scenario. One; is that Scott Hirsch has done a magnificent job of maneuvering Shannon into position for receiving a fight of this magnitude. Two; With these two immensely skilled and powerful men, this fight for as long as it last will be an exciting affair that we can possibly be talking about for years. The winner will undoubtedly capture the attention of the common man on the street. I have respect for Wladimir for being willing to take on the toughest challengers in the division, and for Briggs for not taking the easy road to a trinket belt by turning down Valuev to fight Klitschko. Their styles are perfect for fireworks; we can feasibly have another Briggs-Lewis on the horizon with either man capable of winning in spectacular fashion.

Article posted on 08.07.2006

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