Boxing

Emanuel Steward: Looking to Forge a Young Stable of Champions

20.07.06 - By Troy Ondrizek: There is no greater influence on a fighterís career than a trainer. Sure there are some high-profile promoters that can get their fighters undeserved title shots and can leave a poorly managed fighter out in the cold, but not even these uber-magnates of business have the same impact as the grizzled boxing mind of someone like Kenny Weldon. It is these trainers that instill the technique and fundamentals that will transform an everyday athlete into a trained pugilistic warrior. Now there are some intangibles that trainers canít teach like size and natural speed and power, but they can help mask your deficiencies if you arenít as naturally gifted as some others..

There are some trainers that are great at teaching the fundamentals, but when it comes to elite fighters, these trainers arenít just quite good enough to lead their fighter to the Promised Land. An example of a trainer like this is Buddy McGirt. Then there are trainers that can take an elite fighter who just canít figure out what to do to reach the pinnacle; and this type of trainer knows the little nuances that will guide their fighter to Canaan. A perfect example of this elite type of trainer is Emmanuel Steward.

We have seen Steward lead Oliver McCall to an incredible upset victory over Lennox Lewis. Then Steward took Lewis under his tutelage and turned Lennox into the most dominant force the heavyweight division has seen since Larry Holmes. Steward has recently taken the helm of Wladimir Klitschkoís career, and led the Ukrainian to an alphabet title and The Ringís top ranking in the heavyweight division. We are used to this type of service that Steward brings and how he has had a lasting effect of the sportís premier division. Recently Steward has meddled in the middleweight division by taking on undisputed middleweight king Jermain Taylor. Granted this is a little different than the norm for Emmanuel, but Taylor is still an elite fighter that Steward is just tweaking and adjusting Taylorís game and making him into a top ten pound for pound guy.

However, Steward now has created a stable of young talent; led by Cruiserweight Johnathon Banks and Super-Middleweight Andy Lee. Lee is a big (6í2Ē) southpaw that has an impressive amateur pedigree in Ireland. Lee came over less than a year ago to learn the ways of dominating your opponent with the jab, and relieving them of their collective consciousness with the straight left. These are the trademarks of Steward-ism pugilism; well those and excessive clinching. Andy was a chief sparring partner of Jermain Taylorís; when Taylor was preparing for his last bout with Ronald ďWinkyĒ Wright. According to the rumors, Lee gave Taylor a handful of problems and a face-full of leather, and showed ring savvy well beyond that of a normal twenty-two year old with only three professional. Andy just fought last month and isnít scheduled to level anybody in the near future.

Emanuel Stewardís other young prodigy fits the typical style that Steward likes to work with. Banks has an impressive amateur background, is tall (6í4Ē) and has more than adequate power. Johnathon isnít trained by Steward, but is managed by him. Sooner or later Steward will step in once Banks reaches the upper-echelon of opponents in the cruiserweight division. Banks is taking a big step in that direction next Wednesday. Banks is going up against Eliseo Castillo. Castillo is a skilled Cuban who has fought both at cruiserweight and heavyweight.

I know Iím in the minority, but I love the cruiserweight division, and when I found out about this fight, I got all giddy. Castillo carries a 20-1-1 record and his only loss was at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko. Thing is, Steward was in Klitschkoís corner during that fight, and he sees some flaws in Castillo that he hopes to exploit. Castillo though is vastly more experienced than Banks, and this will be a tough fight for the young Banks. Scott Hirsch, Castilloís manger feels this is a very winnable fight for his man. I tend to agree with Hirsch on this one, but in time Banks will be a force that will challenge David Haye and B.J. Flores for the cruiserweight supremacy. Then again I can be wrong, as is often the case, but thatís usually in regards to women. Banks could blow out Castillo and go on to do absolutely nothing in the future, but if Steward is backing him, then there must be something there.

Itís nice to see a hall-of-fame trainer mix things up and decide to guide the careers of some young talented men. Maybe Lee and Banks wonít end up like so many other couldíve, wouldíve, shouldíve fighters. It is also nice to see that Steward isnít afraid to put his boys in against reputable opposition. I almost donít know what to think about it, but I do know that I will be sitting back with a beer and a stogie enjoying the fight between Castillo and Banks, and thanking Steward for bringing this type of fight to me.

Article posted on 21.07.2006



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