Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Miguel Cotto Makes Another Change and Replaces Emanuel Steward As Money Could Have Been An Issue

By Rich Mancuso

There was suspicion almost two weeks ago when Emanuel Steward was not at the side of his fighter Migeul Cotto. At the press conference tour in New York City to announce the Cotto fight with Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd. Steward was only available for comment by phone. He was preparing his middleweight Andy Lee who defeated Brian Vera at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this past Saturday.

In New York, Cotto seemed agitated, and it apparently had more to do than anticipating his redemption fight against Margarito.

Steward responded to questions about Cotto by phone later that day. He said Cotto was ready and they had a great relationship towards working their third fight together. He was evasive and defensive as to why he was not in New York. And, Saturday at ringside, after Lee won his fight, Steward was asked again about Cotto. He gave his opinion, though it was not clear when he would join Cotto for training camp.

The speculation, if there was any, came to a sudden halt Tuesday afternoon. Cotto made a change after two fights with Steward and Pedro Luis Diaz of Cuba will get him prepared for Margarito. While Steward claims he did not have a contract in his hand as of Saturday, Cotto sources are claiming it was a money issue which has also been confirmed by sources at Top Rank, promoters of Cotto and Margarito.

The money issue, according to sources is attributed to why they parted ways. It reportedly is a significant amount, substantially more from the contracts he had when training Cotto for title defenses against Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga. And there is a report, not confirmed, that Steward has not been paid in full for the Mayorga fight. And recall when Cotto dismissed his uncle, Evangalista, as his trainer, it had more to do than a difference of philosophy. That too was also attributed to differences with how much and who gets what.

So this latest turn of events obviously changes a complexion of the fight with Margarito. Steward had Cotto making the adjustments. He was a much different fighter against Foreman and Mayorga, and the bashing he took from Margarito in their first fight was in the distance. And then there was no speculation, later revealed from the outcome of the Margarito-Shane Mosley fight, that Margarito was using tainted hand wraps under his gloves that enabled Cotto to get stopped in the 11th round.

What is known now is that there have been obvious differences with Steward and Cotto, business related and nothing to do with adjustments and in ring strategy. Previous fighters under Steward have dismissed his services because of his busy schedule with HBO Boxing telecasts and a round the clock schedule of training other fighters. Chad Dawson left Steward and made a change for his upcoming fight with Bernard Hopkins next week for the light heavyweight title.

Did someone get to the ears of Cotto? That according to sources may have been in the works. Though a statement from Cotto, also seen on his web site said, “I met Pedro Luis as an amateur several years ago and had the opportunity to share time with him in several international competitions. I was instantly amazed as to the vast boxing technique and conditioning knowledge that he transmitted to his fighters.”

Cotto also mentioned strength and conditioning Coach Phil Landman, who has a good relationship with Pedro Luis. And there were reports, again not confirmed, that Steward had a difference of opinion with conditioning of Cotto before the fight with Foreman. “Together,” said Cotto, “a perfect fit to bring my best potential for my next fight in December and lead me to victory.”

Steward expressed surprise when he was informed. He stated everything was in place to begin training Cotto this weekend and he holds no grudge against Cotto or his management team that also includes attorney Gabriel Penagaricano. He will be at ringside calling the fight for HBO instead of being in Cotto’s corner which becomes an awkward situation

But this is business, and Cotto obviously wanted to once again make everything perfect. The Margarito fight has been on the agenda since that loss in the 2008 welterweight title fight. A perfect world for Cotto means having a trainer dedicated to him and meeting his financial terms. The relationship worked when Cotto won the junior middleweight title over Foreman at Yankee Stadium last year and in his first title defense against Mayorga earlier this year.

Cotto also said “I want to take this opportunity to express my wholehearted attitude to Emanuel Steward who I consider a friend and mentor. “Because of calendar conflicts and other matters, we were unable to work together for this next fight. His is one of the best trainers I have ever met in boxing. I will forever be appreciative for the two fights we worked together.” He added that the door will be left open to maybe working again in the future if timing and circumstances make that possible.

Though Freddie Roach, trainer of Manny Pacquiao and dozens of other fighters also has a demanding schedule, there is a difference. Steward is also employed by HBO, and there is always a discussion about HBO and Steward in the corner of a fighter being a conflict of interest. Cotto never addressed that situation and his only concern, that has been confirmed, was Steward giving him the appropriate time when it came to his two or three fight commitments for the year.

Or as sources close to Steward have come to hear, he believes Margarito will walk all over Cotto at the Garden. Cotto may have had knowledge of that comment, if it is true. However, Steward, as much as he has gained respect as a Hall of Fame trainer has been known to bad mouth fighters that have no longer utilized his services.

Regardless of the circumstances, Cotto remains confident. But adjusting again to a new trainer will be monitored and it could mean an advantage for Margarito.

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