Interview: Manny Steward

By Brad Cooney


Interview: Manny Steward

Emanuel Steward gives us his assessment on the current health of today's sport of boxing. In this Boxingtalk exclusive, the famed trainer also talks about the big IBF heavyweight title fight between his fighter, Wladimir Klitschko and Calvin Brock. Boxingtalk also asked Manny about Jermain Taylor, and what his future is with him. A living legend in the game of boxing, Emanuel Steward also talks about what he would have done differently if he had to start his career in boxing all over again.

BT - Manny, Wladimir Klitschko will defend his title against 2000 Olympian Calvin Brock. What are your thoughts on this match-up?

ES - Well, Wladimir is fighting an undefeated fighter, a guy that has never lost. Brock is a solid basic fighter, and Wladimir knows what can happen if he gets too relaxed.

BT - Brock is a very confident fighter, he hasn't lost since his amateur days. Are you concerned at all about the level of confidence that Brock has, and do you feel Wladimir may underestimate Brock?

ES - Well it's a great opportunity for Calvin Brock, he has an opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. I expect Calvin Brock to be a much different fighter than he was his last fight. Whenever a fighter is fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world, they rise to a much higher level.

BT - Does Brock bring anything into the ring that concerns you at all?

ES - He's a basic solid fighter, with an extensive amateur background which I have a great deal of respect for. In order to make it to the Olympics you obviously know how to fight, he's undefeated. I feel good about Brock's basic style though compared to some of our last opponents.

BT - Before Brock inked this deal, Shannon Briggs was the guy everyone thought was going to fight Wlad. Manny, you were a little bit worried about fighting Briggs weren't you?

ES - Yes, you have to worry about Shannon Briggs for the first few rounds, that's just the way he fights. Shannon fights like a kamikaze, Brock is a different kind of fighter. We will be careful of Brock as well, but Shannon Briggs is as dangerous a fighter out there within the first three rounds of a fight.

BT - How's Wladimir's conditioning now, has he been staying in pretty good condition between his fights?

ES - Wladimir comes into his fights in good condition, I don't really worry about Wlad, he stays within a few pounds of where he need to be come fight time.

BT - When do you start camp in preparation for Brock?

ES - Sometime in the last week of September, that will give us about 6 or 7 weeks.

BT - Jermain Taylor will be fighting Kassim Ouma in Little Rock, will you be in Taylor's corner for this fight?

ES - I don't know anything about that whole situation, I just found out about it about an hour ago. I'm just not in a position to comment on that right now.

BT - Talk about the cruiserweight you train, Jonathan Banks a little bit. Eliseo Castillo had him pretty much beat, then bam, Banks turns it around and goes on to knock him out.

ES - That was one of the best wins that I have ever been involved in especially with such a big gamble. That was a big, big gamble and I am very happy that Jonathan won that fight.

BT - Manny you looked a little nervous in the corner for that one (laughs).

ES - Very nervous, I was nervous for that one. The guy he fought had much more experience, but it was a gamble that paid off.

BT - What's next for Jonathan Banks?

ES - Jonathan is scheduled to fight October 14th, on the Kermit Cintron card, and Andy Lee will also be on that card.

BT - Do you guys have an opponent set for Andy Lee yet?

ES - No, but he told me he wants to fight William Joppy.

BT - That's a tough fight for Andy Lee, but would be a good fight for him.

ES - Yes, Andy has sparred with Jermain Taylor, and he has sparred with Wladimir as well, plus an extensive amateur career.

BT - Do you have any other secret weapons up there at Kronk gym that you aren't telling us about Manny?

ES - No, I am just spending a lot of time between fights, amateur programs, and HBO, and my family.

BT - Manny when you look back at your career, did you ever think that you would get this involved in the sport of boxing?

ES - No I had no idea that I would be here, I figured I might be a legend as a street fighter growing up in junior high school, that's the closest I thought I would ever get. I wanted to develop a fighter to make it to the Olympic Team, that was my goal. Never in a million years did I think it would all come to this.

BT - When you look back at your career, is there anything that you would have done differently?

ES - Yes, I would handle things much more business like, and not trusting as many people as I have in the past. I trust people a lot, and I treat people too good, and it has burned me in the past.

BT - Manny I have met you, and you're definitely an approachable guy, fan friendly.

ES - That's what I enjoy doing. Last week I spent the entire week with the kids at the amateur tournaments. I really enjoy working with the kids, working with the kids in the amateur boxing program. I have decided to spend more time developing my own fighters, rather than going in as a hired gun. I have been extremely blessed having the opportunity to work with Wladimir Klitschko, he's a very unusual man in terms of intelligence, appreciation, and intensity along with professionalism.

BT - I am guessing the Klitschko's probably appreciate what they have now, having grown up in the Ukraine.

ES - When Wladimir and I are together, we spend a lot of time talking about a lot of things. We talk about life in general, we talk about his interest in politics, and his philosophy on life, and my philosophy on life.

BT - Manny do you think Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis will ever come out of retirement, and fight again?

ES - Well you know, both are fighters, and both have said the only fight that would get them out of retirement would be to fight each other. I wouldn't completely put that fight off. I know that Lennox is in pretty good condition right now. I see him before the broadcasts and he is always pretty close to fight condition. Wladimir accrued his injuries from his kickboxing days, he won't say that, but he didn't start boxing until he was 21 years old. Wladimir's career in kickboxing is where he got his injuries. I would not count out the possibility that a fight between Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis will happen, it could happen.

BT - There has been a little tremor about that fight here lately, that's why I asked you that question, so you never know.

ES - You never know, but I would like to see Lennox stay retired. I told Lennox right before he retired, to make sure when you retire, you stay retired. I wanted him to have a rematch with Vitali first, then retire when he's finished. Lennox is a very serious boxer, a true competitor, a busy champion, and he put so much into boxing, one day he just said "that's it".

BT - I am interested in your thoughts on the upcoming fight between Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao.

ES - Morales is doing things differently now so they say. Manny seems to have the strength, and style, and I don't see Erik holding him off. Manny is a real strong kid. The odds have to favor Manny Pacquiao.

BT - Manny what is your assessment of the sport of boxing right now ? If you had to grade the health of boxing, what would you give it?

ES - You know, it's a complicated question. I think boxing is much better off than we give it credit for, it's just different. You have your two really great divisions in boxing with heavyweights and middleweights. Right now neither division is attractive, no big dream matches with the exception of Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright, but beyond that boxing is pretty healthy. There is no one dominant name in boxing right now, it used to be Roy Jones Jr, DelaHoya, Tyson, but those days are gone. The reason they are gone is because the fighters are fighting more competitive matches now. I think that the general fans, every day people know the names of boxers now more than any other time I saw in history. I am at airports, and I hear people talking about Morales, Pacquiao, Jermain Taylor, it's a different market now. Also great fighters are fighting each other over again. Trinidad against DelaHoya PPV numbers shocked everybody, people are
really enjoying boxing. People are getting pizza, and beer at the house and they are enjoying the fights. With ESPN, and Showbox stepping up, more fighters are getting exposure. I think boxing overall is ok, it's doing ok.

BT - Manny, let's talk Mike Tyson. Where do you put Mike Tyson amongst the all time great Heavyweights?

ES - Mike Tyson is the only guy that I have ever known besides Muhammad Ali, where you just didn't care who he was fighting, you just wanted to see him fight. I remember one time in back in like 1988, I was out partying with friends, and I told them 'hey I gotta get out of here, I am going to go watch Mike Tyson on HBO, knock somebody out'. They asked me, 'Who's Mike Tyson fighting?' and I said, 'I don't know, and I don't care' (laughs). Mike Tyson came out with so much intensity, that it didn't even matter who his opponent was, you just wanted to see him. When you look at history's super-fights, like Hagler vs Hearns, Ali vs Fraizer,
you have to ask yourself, how did Mike Tyson do when he had his super-fight against Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis. Mike Tyson didn't do so well, but as far as the impact that he has had on boxing, with the excitement, the       fans, and the intensity, you have to rank Mike Tyson right up there. I like Mike Tyson, I saw him in Vegas the other day, people just gravitate to the guy. Mike Tyson can be one of the most approachable, and warmest
guys in boxing, I really wish the guy well.

BT - Manny I appreciate your time, and good luck with Wlad vs Calvin Brock.

ES - I want to tell all the guys at Boxingtalk to keep up the good work!


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