By Kieran Mulvaney
Hall-of-Fame trainer and HBO boxing analyst Emanuel Steward is no stranger to big fights. He’s been in the corner of, among others, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis – and, for two fights, Miguel Cotto. So we asked him to turn his encyclopedic knowledge and first-hand experience toward analyzing this Saturday’s matchup between Cotto and Floyd Mayweather, and ticking off the keys to either man securing victory.
1. Keep it slow. And fast.
Floyd can make his body move at one speed, and punch at a different speed. It’s very difficult for fighters to adjust to that. Because usually you move at a certain rhythm and you punch at the same rhythm. He doesn’t do that. He has a very smooth, systematic way of moving and he punches at a different speed. That’s something very few fighters master. So I expect him to try and force Miguel to fight at a slower pace, a pace at which Floyd is comfortable and still able to throw fast punches.
2. It’s technical
I think Floyd’s going to come out and try to make it a technical fight. In recent fights he has become a much more physical fighter than we have given him credit for. With Mosley and these guys he’s walking them down, blocking punches, not backing away. I expect him to jab, come forward, be patient and place his punches very well.
3. It’s all in the head
Floyd has an unbelievable ability to keep calm and think in all conditions. Ray Leonard had that ability, and Muhammad Ali. I think the best way to illustrate that is when there was all that trouble in the fight with Zab Judah. When everybody was in the ring going crazy, he just walked to the corner and watched everybody, very relaxed. That’s a big factor he has going for him: the ability to think under all conditions.
He has an ego, but I think it helps. He has a total obsession with never losing a fight. I think that works to his advantage, because apart from anything else, he always makes sure he is in excellent condition.
1. Stand tall
He has to maintain his height to a certain degree, not get excessively low, the way he was when he was fighting Manny Pacquiao, for example. When I was training him, I pointed it out. I said “Look at these pictures here. Pacquiao looks about seven inches taller than you are, because you’re fighting too low. You’re giving your height away. And your legs are spread too far apart, which means you can’t get in and out as fast as you should.”
2. Back him up
He has to back Floyd up, but back him up with a good, authoritative jab and maintain his balance when he does it, not with his legs too far apart. A hard, authoritative jab to back Floyd up and then hard left hooks. And when Floyd moves away, Miguel’s got to keep pressure on him again. It’s very important for Miguel to take Floyd out of his comfort zone. Very important. That’s the key, key thing in his fight. Make Floyd feel uncomfortable by constantly putting pressure on him.
3. Hit him with his best shot
Miguel still has one of the best punches there’s ever been in boxing – specifically, his left hook. And what’s amazing, very few people ever realized it, but he is almost 100 percent a left hook fighter. He almost never does damage with his right hand. For him to win, he needs to come out and apply intelligent pressure. He needs to fight behind a very hard jab, a jab where he will be forcing Mayweather to lose power a little bit, by moving him back so his weight will be on his right foot. And Mayweather will be in his defensive mode, where he rolls his left hand around his body, to move him into that position with hard left jabs and then to unleash vicious left hooks when Floyd is all twisted up.