Michael Rosenthal

Steward leery of Haye’s speed but confident Klitschko will win

LOS ANGELES – Emanuel Steward doesn’t believe any heavyweight on the planet can beat Wladimir Klitschko. That includes David Haye, who Klitschko has agreed fight on June 25 or July 2.

Haye has one thing Klitschko’s recent opponents did’t have that concerns Steward to a degree: speed.

“That’s the biggest problem Haye poses,” Steward said before the start of a news conference to promote the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga fight. “You can never underestimate speed. Speed is an asset to any athlete.

“Look at the last 20 years. The top fighters are guys like Roy Jones. Ali was before him. And now Manny Pacquiao is dominating. The one thing they all had was speed.”

Steward compared this matchup to one in which he was involved.

“Speed can neutralize size,” he said. “I trained Evander Holyfield for his second fight with Riddick Bowe, the only one he won. Evander used his speed to mitigate Bowe’s size. Remember, Evander won by moving, punching in combination, getting in and out.

“We make Riddick Bowe’s size advantage into a disadvantage.”

Steward isn’t worried that Haye will use that blueprint on his fighter for one reason: Klitschko is quick too.

“One thing people underestimate is Wladimir’s speed,” he said. “He’s very fast on his feet. He doesn’t jump around like Ali or anything like that. Everyone who has fought him has made the same comments after the fight, though: He was too fast.

“He’d move in and before you could do anything he’d move out. His jab was difficult. He always kept you off balance. It’s hard to set him up.”

And, of course, there’s the size issue. Haye is no midget at 6-foot-3 (191cm) but he’s a relatively small heavyweight. The former cruiserweight champion has never weighed more than 222 pounds (101 kilos) for a fight.

Klitschko will be the much bigger man.

“Wladimir is a legitimate big man,” Steward said. “He’s a good 6-6 (198cm), 240 pounds (110 kilos). He’s a solid man who also can move and has experience, fighting in the Olympics, (18) world championship fights. And he seems to be at his peek now.

“I’m confidient Wladimir will win. And that goes for any other heavyweight in the world.”

The site of the fight has not been determined. Stadiums in the German cities of Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Kaiserslautern have expressed interest in hosting the event but the Klitschkos’ manager said it could still end up outside Germany, although not in England or the U.S.

Also, Klitschko pulled out of his April 30 fight against Dereck Chisora because of what he said was a nagging abdominal injury. Vitali Klitschko will step in if his brother can’t fight.

Steward believes Wladimir Klitschko suffered a slight tear to a muscle in his stomach when he fell during a training run. Steward believes the tear was exacerbated by the aggressive stretching he does during training.

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