By Chris Robinson
Highly-respected trainer Emanuel Steward has seen his name in the headlines a lot in recent weeks. Within a month’s span, it was revealed that Steward had amicably parted ways with former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and then WBA junior middleweight title holder Miguel Cotto for reasons that seemed to be out of his control.
Despite going in his own direction, Steward had nothing really venomous to say about either man and in an interesting twist of fate, it was announced earlier this week that the Kronk trainer will now be working with Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa, widely-regarded as the hottest talent at 126 pounds.
Despite moonlighting as an analyst on HBO’s airwaves, Steward admits that he has only seen a few of Gamboa’s fights yet was quick to offer praise.
“Phenomenal, natural coordination,” said Steward during our conversation on Sunday night. “I will look at what he’s doing best and try to work off of what he’s doing best. I would correct a few mistakes, but no drastic changes. That’s what you saw in the recent fights with Miguel Cotto, he wasn’t drastically changed. I have to fight within his own style. He won’t adjust to me, I’ll adjust to him.”
Steward was then questioned on whether he would look to tighten up Gamboa’s defense, as he has been dropped multiple times in various fights after showing a propensity for getting wild inside of the ring.
“That’s one of the things I will work on, that’s one of my specialties,” Steward said of the 29-year old former champion, who was stripped for bizarre reasons of his IBF and WBA titles earlier this year.
Top Rank is said to be looking at having Gamboa take one fight at 130 pounds in the first quarter of 2012 before eyeing a showdown in the summer with WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios, one of the most physically-imposing and equally exciting champions in the game today. Rios’ all-action style is the kind that can give trainers nightmares and Steward didn’t sell him short when assessing him as an opponent in the future.
“A strong-minded guy like him is always tough. He’s real super-determined and fighters like him are throwbacks to the old-time fighters. And you can never, ever, regardless of what your skill-level is, be comfortable fighting a guy like Brandon. Brandon is a guy I have much respect for. He’s an animal.”