Steward on Klitschko:
“I’ve never trained a fighter so intense!”
Story and photos by David Greene
Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who has directed the careers of such great champions as Thomas Hearns, Milton McCrory and Michael Moorer, sat down with a small group of reporters at the end of his six weeks with Wladimir Klitschko, at their secluded camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
"I've probably never trained a fighter so intense with his training," Steward said about Klitschko.
“Nobody trains harder or more intense than Wladimir Klitschko. Five weeks of training with him is equivalent to almost three months with a normal fighter."
According to Steward, Klitschko begins his days with a morning training session that focuses on technique. Steward explained, "We just go and we talk and we work on moves and stop and discuss it."
A second two-hour session is held in the late afternoon and the day ends watching videos of Calvin Brock.
"Wladimir’s always in such great shape," says Steward. "In his last four fights, Wladimir has fought three undefeated fighters . . . which means he has not fought easy fights.
"Never, never, have I seen, or expected to see, anyone dominate Chris Byrd the way he did. And he didn't just beat Chris Byrd because he was bigger—the first fight he beat Chris Byrd because he was a big guy. This (second fight) fight he beat Chris by Chris' own admission, because he was just too fast."
Having recently been misquoted by saying Calvin Brock is an easier fight than Shannon Briggs, Steward shoots back with, "I never said that. I said it's much easier to prepare for a standard, good fighter than fight a guy like Shannon Briggs, who's a big kamikaze-type guy.
"As for Briggs, he knows he's not going to be in shape. He comes out and throws everything he's got for two or three rounds and then he says, 'If I don't knock you out, the hell with it.' And for any fighter, Whether it was (Muhammad) Ali, Joe Frazier or (George) Foreman, anyone, that's a dangerous type guy to fight for the first two or three rounds, including Lennox Lewis, as we found out. And that's when I said he was the most dangerous guy, because of his size and his style for the first two or three rounds.
"In the fight with Calvin Brock, we have a guy who is a sound, basic fighter, not exceptional in one area. He's not a devastating puncher. Not a very fast, tricky guy, not a pressure guy. But when we looked at him and studied him very closely, the things we saw about him is first of all, he doesn't get hit much, he's got a pretty good defense in his own way, he picks punches off very well, and that's something that really impressed me was his defense.
"The next thing we looked at was he doesn't get tired. He has great stamina. His condition is something we definitely have to consider because he does not tire out, and the fact that he's been fairly active. Maybe he didn't look so good in his last fight against (Timor) Ibragimov... but you know that happens, I saw a guy named Cassius Clay have a very controversial, booed fight with a guy named Doug Jones-the next fight he beat Sonny Liston.
"But for this fight I think Brock is going to be up for the fight, he's got a good amateur background, and like most of these guys that Wladimir has fought lately, they have never lost. When a guy has never lost, he has a different mind-set, I think he's very confident, he wants to be a star, he feels that this is his opportunity.
“But there's still a lot of lingering doubts in people's minds about his chin and stamina and we are very much aware of that,” says Steward of Klitschko’s several knock-downs at the hands of Sam Peter and DaVarryl Williamson. "I have an explanation in my mind for each one of them. That's why it hasn't bothered me.
"I told Wladimir that what you are up against in this fight is not just trying to beat another undefeated fighter, but you’re really competing against your last performance. It was such a stellar performance with Byrd, well, how can you do anything better than that? I mean you just shut out one of the fastest and classiest boxers in modern time, and you beat him in speed and that's very difficult."
On Modern day fighters
Taking his own swing at modern day fighters, Steward then states, "What's happening with so many is they very seldom can put back to back, two good victories, every damn one of them. They have one victory and it goes to their head. (Antonio) Tarver beats a Roy Jones and it goes on and on... (Felix) Trinidad, all of them are the same way.
“They lose their focus and intensity and they’re getting tied up in so much of the media and the promotion and they think their bigger than they really are, because there are so many opportunities now that didn't exist for fighters, and everybody wants to be a promoter . . . and Wladimir Klitschko who, of all the fighters I've worked with, including Oscar De La Hoya, I don't think there is any fighter that has more outside business interests then this man has."
Steward predicts Klitschko will become, "a dominant force in the history of heavyweight champions . . . not only due to his athletic ability, but his desire and his intelligence to learn.”
“He he is totally focused on being a great boxer and it's a pleasure to work with a guy like that. If he's not in the room, I just go to the fitness room, he's down on the treadmill."
As for Saturday night’s fight, Steward remarks, “I think it’s going to be an interesting fight because Brock, as I said, is not that easy to hit. He has good stamina and I think his confidence level is still high. . . . For the first time you've got two intelligent, college educated guys who are fighting."
One Unified Champ
Looking down the road to one unified heavyweight champion, Steward predicts, "When the public demands and wants a match bad enough, the networks and promoters, and a lot of them will pretty much have to sit their asses down and just figure out how you're going to get your share of the money, and that's what happens.
"When this is over, Wladimir is the star of the heavyweight division and anybody that wants to make money, they’re going to have to fight Wladimir Klitschko."
PHOTO 1: Trainer Emanuel Steward speaks to reporters at the Wladimir Klitschko camp in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
PHOTO 2: Emanuel Steward and heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko
PHOTO 3: At a question and answer session are (l-r): trainer Emanuel Steward, heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko and advisor Bern Bonte.