By Jake Donovan
Emanuel Steward wasn’t an official member of the EPIX boxing team, but his involvement with Wladimir Klitschko alone makes him a part of the family. The late trainer passed away at age 68 in late October after an unsuccessful battle with diverticulitis and colon cancer.
Klitschko returns to the ring on Saturday night to defend his lineal heavyweight championship against unbeaten Mariusz Wach. The bout – which airs live on EPIX (4:00PM ET/1:00PM PT), as well as on its online feed at EpixHD.com and on the Times Square Jumbotron in New York City – marks the first for Klitschko without Steward’s services in nearly nine years.
Even without the physical presence of Steward in his corner, Klitschko (58-3, 51KO) firmly believes that he carries the trainer’s spirit into the ring. EPIX plans to take it one step further, ensuring that the viewing public will be treated to a reminder of just how much he meant to the sport.
“EPIX will certainly have a proper tribute for the late, great Emanuel Steward,” promised Travis Pomposello, CCO and executive producer of EPIX Sports. “We’ve seen some great tributes from other networks featuring archived footage of his career achievements.
“We’ve spent the lead into the fight speaking to the people who were in the trenches with Emanuel, and still with Wladimir. People like Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Johnathon Banks (Klitschko’s chief sparring partner and his cornerman for this weekend) – the people who Emanuel has truly touched the most in recent years.”
Saturday’s broadcast will mark the third consecutive time Klitschko has appeared on EPIX. The premium network also featured his title defenses earlier this year against Tony Thompson and Jean-Marc Mormeck, both of which resulted in one-sided stoppage wins.
EPIX’ first foray into boxing – in March ’11 – was Vitali Klitschko’s 1st round injury stoppage of Odlanier Solis. Five of the 13 boxing telecasts to air on EPIX (including this coming Saturday’s show) have featured a Klitschko in the headliner – Vitali’s points win over Dereck Chisora earlier this year being the final part of that equation.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox