Legendary trainer fears for boxing
28 Feb 2011
Harare - Emanuel Steward, one of boxing’s most revered trainers, has expressed grave reservations over the future of the sport.He believes failed negotiations to bring together four of the leading protagonists - heavyweights David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko, and welterweights Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquiao - were “killing boxing”.Klitschko will take on Zimbabwean-born British champion Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora in a world heavyweight title fight in Germany in April.Steward, the 66-year-old founder of Detroit’s world famous Kronk Gym, whose tutelage of world champions stretches from the heavyweights Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis back to three-weight world champion Thomas Hearns in the ‘80w, said that he had “serious concerns about the future of boxing, and the direction it is going in”, adding that he sees “no more than a 50/50 chance of either super-fight ever happening.”“The public makes the mega-fights,” said Steward, speaking exclusively to The Daily Telegraph.“The public wants to see two fights in boxing right now, one between the big men and one between the little guys. They want to see Manny Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather, and they want to see Wladimir Klitschko against David Haye. Simple as that, and it is the public who decides these things.“They are both massive fights…and they can’t be made. I have serious concerns about the future of boxing when the two biggest fights in the world, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars, can’t be signed.“Everywhere I go, people ask me whether the fight is going to happen (between Haye and Klitschko). My honest assessment is that I really don’t know if it will.”“It took 15 minutes to make the Tommy Hearns, Ray Leonard fight. I flew into an airport, we did the deal over a coffee in the coffee shop in the airport, and I went back on the same plane. The public had made the fight.”He added: “Today we have the egos stopping the fights the public wants to see. We have the same problems with Klitschko-Haye and Mayweather-Pacquiao. Everyone wants to see David Haye meet Wladimir Klitschko. David has created the fight, through hype. I want to see it, too. David has fast hands, and has questions about his chin. There are questions as to whether Wladimir could handle Haye’s speed. What’s happening right now is simply hurting boxing, killing it.“Pacquiao has fought very well and has earned his greatness, but his natural weight is around 137lbs,” said Steward. “They are now cherry-picking his opponents. When you had eight weight divisions, those who moved up the divisions really were special fighters. I’m not saying there are not great fighters around today, but it is manipulated, and the best fighters are often protected.”He added: “On the other side of the Pacquiao-Mayweather situation, Mayweather is scared to death of losing his unbeaten record, totally petrified. I never thought he would do that. I really only see a 50/50 chance of these guys stepping into a ring to fight each other.”Steward acknowledged that he “understood David Haye’s viewpoint” of not wanting to wait until July 2 to fight the two-belt heavyweight world champion Klitschko.Haye is mooted to be planning to defend his WBA heavyweight title on May 21 against mandatory challenger Ruslan Chagaev, who must first satisfy medical examinations for the British Boxing Board to sanction him as a vector of a hepatitis strain, while the Klitschko brothers already have fights lined up until the late summer.Wladimir will defend the IBF/WBO titles against Chisora in Germany on April 30, while Vitali, his elder brother and the WBC champion, faces Cuban Odlanier Solis in Germany on March 19.They have even signed world-rated Polish fighter Tomasz Adamek to face one of the brothers in a newly-opened stadium in Poland on Sept 1. Steward is adamant, nonetheless, that the fighters should see the bigger picture.He said: “The bottom line is that it has come down to egos, and money, this tv deal and that tv deal, and it is totally ridiculous. These are two fights that would break all records given the global interest in them.“It’s killing boxing. Let me tell you - when two great fighters fight, they both come out that ring with enhanced reputations. Look at the history of boxing. Great fighters don’t dominate, they are in competitive fights.”Steward also expressed doubts about “serious flaws” he had noticed in Britain’s WBA world welterweight champion Amir Khan, who he said had “shown real heart” against Argentinian Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas in December, but had exposed frailties when Khan comes up against a more skilled, faster puncher.