Manny Steward has thrived on bringing back fighters from damaging losses.
Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez and Lennox Lewis are among past projects the Hall of Fame trainer has taken on. And reclamation work keeps coming his way.
"When Evander Holyfield first came to me, he had been beaten really badly by Riddick Bowe. So we took that first fight with Alex Stewart, won that one, and then we were able to come back and beat Riddick Bowe in the rematch," said Steward, who is 67.
"Oliver McCall wasn't supposed to have any sort of a shot against Lennox Lewis, but he knocked out Lennox in the second round. Then, of course, we were able to bring Lennox back to beat Oliver McCall in their rematch."
The coach of 42 titlists continued: "Julio Cesar Chavez had just lost his first fight of his career to Frankie Randall when they brought him to me. In fact, most of the big-name fighters, I only got them after they had faced disaster. The list goes on and on."
Steward's most-recent assignments are Irish middleweight Andy Lee (26-1, 19 knockouts), former light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) and WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs).
Lee, who has won 11 consecutive fights, faces Bryan Vera (19-5, 12 KOs) on Oct. 1 in Atlantic City, N.J., in a rematch of their 2008 fight, which Vera won by a seventh-round KO.
Dawson, coming back from his upset loss to Jean Pascal, will try to dethrone RING light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins on Oct. 15 in Newark, N.J.
And Cotto will seek revenge against Antonio Margarito on Dec. 3 in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) stopped Cotto in the 11th round in 2008, Cotto’s first loss.
During his first bout with Vera, Lee failed to capitalize after having scored a first-round knockdown.
"Andy went all out trying to finish him off but he ran out of gas and was totally exhausted," said Steward. "This time, it will be a much more intelligent fight. If we get him hurt, we approach it more systematically and not force it."
Dawson was vanquished last August by Jean Pascal, who later drew with Hopkins before losing to him. Dawson is coming off a decision over Adrian Diaconu in May, his first bout under Steward.
"I just spoke to Chad last night, and Chad's anxious to get into the gym, so we'll start in about two weeks laying out our strategy for Bernard," said Steward. "Spiritually, Bernard's on a very big high, so we need to get Chad mentally programmed. Bernard can box, he can rough you up and he'll make great adjustments in fights."
There were a number of questions going into Cotto’s fight against Yuri Foreman last year.
Among them was how much did the three-time titlist have left given the bloody wars he had endured during the loss to Margarito, a split-decision win over Joshua Clottey in June 2009 and the stoppage loss to Manny Pacquiao that dethroned him as WBO welterweight beltholder in November.
All three bouts had ravaged Cotto, leaving him with severe facial cuts and bruises.
"Miguel had been busted up badly in three fights, really. Plus he was fighting an undefeated boy in New York, so that was a challenge," said Steward, who, at the time, was Cotto's third trainer in five fights. "We look at [the Foreman fight] in hindsight as being an easy fight, but at the time, it was not that easy. Especially after Foreman had been turned down by Manny Pacquiao as being too tall."
Cotto chopped down Foreman, dropping him and ending the fight in the ninth.
"Margarito still is going to be a challenge because of his size and his height," said Steward. "But these are the sorts of challenges that I look forward to. Trust me, I'm used to this."