Emanuel Steward joined forces with the Klitschko in 2004. Here are some of his earliest public observations about working with the two future superstars…
‘I have never been in a camp where there is so much diligent and hard training. The training starts sometimes at seven and does not finish until seven at night. Both brothers are in very good condition. They are not taking any chances but they are not overconfident by any means and they realize what can happen after what happened last year with Sanders, Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman. They are spending a lot of time not just training but watching videos studying and asking questions. They have a tremendous thirst for knowledge. As a result you are going to see two well prepared athletes on April 10 and April 24.
“I think they are extremely talented six-ft-six, six-ft-seven guys but this is the new generation. I myself never thought that much of a boxer over six-five because I know that was like a boundary and when you get to six-five that was like the end of your coordination for boxing, which was like Lewis and Bowe. The Klitschkos are the exception in that fact. That they are the new generation of big heavyweights who have coordination. If they had been born and raised here in America they probably would have been on a basketball team. But, fortunately, for us in boxing, there was not much basketball going on there in Russia and the Ukraine, so they ended up on the national boxing team. And it benefited boxing. But they are spending a lot of time in the area of coordination. They are spending a lot of time on movement to neutralize the possible disadvantage. But they are totally focused on boxing.
“The Klitschkos are extremely serious about their boxing. Everything is very punctual, on time. They both have a good sense of humor and Vitali is good at telling us some great jokes. They are exceptionally warm with the media and fans. They are maybe the most accommodating of the modern heavyweights I have known possibly since Muhammad Ali. I think that is going to be a great asset for them in the future and not just because they are foreigners but they are extremely warm with people, very intelligent and they understand things a lot, better than most people realize. They also both had experienced amateur careers which is an exception. Most big guys get into boxing because someone says they are big, should just get into boxing to make money. And they start late in many occasions. But both of these guys have had nearly 200 amateur fights, extensive amateur careers and I think that has helped them a lot also.
“There is a wonderful cooperation (working with Fritz Sdunek, original trainer of Klitshkos), everyone brings something to the table, it is fantastic working together. It would be very difficult for one trainer to handle two star fighters, especially when you are dealing with heavyweight champions of the world. So it works out fine. We have two superstars here, it requires two different people, maybe three or four.
“In 1996 I was training a boxer named Graciano Rocchigiani and he told me that the next generation of heavyweights would be mainly from Europe and the African countries. It is because we are not producing heavyweights from our amateur program.
“I was hoping that Lennox would fight the return match regardless, because, I, just like Vitali, felt he owed it to the boxing world. Regardless of the fact that he has been a good champion, it had been such a great fight. Boxing had been so good to and rewarded Lennox in so many ways. It would have been fair to the public to have the rematch and finish those last six rounds. We did not get that. He chose not to. Vitali and I accepted his opinion. But I am very impressed with the class Vitali has shown because he could have easily degraded Lewis publicly and say that he was a coward. Vitali has been a gentleman, has respected Lewis’s opinion and has shown a lot of class.
“Vitali – I was so amazed by his intensity. When he came in the ring he was a man who was totally obsessed with winning.”
Scoop’s book “Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle” was published by Zumaya earlier this year.