By Chris Robinson
On Sunday night I caught up with renown trainer Emanuel Steward, as we discussed his upcoming endeavor working with featherweight marvel Yuriorkis Gamboa. The Cuban standout may be in line for a crack at WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios next summer and you could sense Steward’s cautious enthusiasm when assessing the danger of such a contest.
Before our conversation finished, I was sure to ask Steward if he was going to be in Las Vegas in a few weekends for the upcoming trilogy bout between rivals Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“I wouldn’t miss it for nothing. I want to see that fight,” said Steward, who serves as a color commentator for HBO’s World Championship Boxing series as well as their pay-per-view events.
It’s understandable that one could get excited about the fight, given the harrowing drama that took place in the first two bouts, a May 2004 split-draw and a March 2008 split-decision that went in Pacquiao’s favor. Those contests took place at 130 and 135 pounds as opposed to the catch-weight limit of 144 pounds for the November 12th clash, which will be for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight prize.
So, while Steward feels the style clash will always serve Marquez well, you can sense him seeing a tough night for the Mexico City star without even giving a prediction.
“It’s just that Marquez has that certain style that is always going to be a problem for Manny,” Steward claimed. “He takes advantage of every mistake [Pacquiao] makes and over the course of the two fights he’s won more rounds but had four knockdowns count against him. That style of Marquez works beautifully for him but I think that guy is about another ten pounds naturally bigger now.”
Pacquiao will turn 33 on December 17th but his future seems uncertain given his duties as a congressman in his native Sarangani in the Philippines as well as what looks to be a lack of high-profile opponents down the road. A potential super fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. seems less likely by the day and Steward gave his take on exactly how long he feels we will be seeing Pacquiao on boxing’s biggest stage.
“As long Bob Arum wants him to fight. Bob controls him. I would like to see him fight about two fights, three fights, at the most. But I’ll be honest with you, if he comes through with this fight with Marquez, if he wins against this bad-omen type guy, I would walk away from the Mayweather stuff. I would just walk away.”
[Reader's note: For an inside look at the first two 24/7 Pacquiao-Marquez episodes, please visit Images from Episodes 1 and 2 of 24/7 Pacquiao-Marquez]
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]