BoxingScene.com reports this evening that all the talk has come to a finality, and that it's official: the legendary Emanuel Steward will serve as Miguel Cotto's lead trainer for his June 5 fight against Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium.
The two teams will appear at Yankee Stadium next Friday for a press conference, and Steward is slated to be there with Cotto. Foreman's outspoken manager Murray Wilson says that Yuri's trainer, Joe Grier, will be wearing a jacket that says "Here is the World's #1 Trainer."
Cotto and Foreman are both soft-spoken guys, but God knows Manny Steward isn't when he doesn't want to be, and it sounds like Team Foreman has taken some real exception to Steward's backing out of an apparent agreement to serve as a consultant for Yuri. So you might expect some really good quotes to come out of that presser, just not from the fighters themselves. I still recall when Taylor-Pavlik I was at the pressers, and Bob Arum said Pavlik's power was greater than that of Tommy Hearns, and Steward replied, "Please. Let's be real here."
While we've debated the merits of Cotto hiring Steward because Cotto's style doesn't really play to the strengths of Steward as a trainer (whereas Yuri Foreman could have gotten a great deal of help from Steward, I'd say), I don't think anyone will argue that Steward isn't a major step up from Joe Santiago, who served as Cotto's trainer for the Joshua Clottey and Manny Pacquiao fights late year. Santiago drew great criticism for his handling of the Pacquiao fight in particular, and that started in camp. The claims were that Cotto was all but training himself, and once the fight rolled around and Manny Pacquiao got Cotto in trouble, Santiago seemed to have no answers.
Steward can be a motivator, for sure. For recent fighters in his care, it seems Wladimir Klitschko responds well to Manny's way of motivating, while Jermain Taylor did not. And maybe that's really all Miguel needs. Someone to light a fire under his ass again. His problems with his former trainer, uncle Evangelista Cotto, are well-documented, but on fight night they worked very well together. There was some brief speculation that perhaps Miguel and Evangelista might patch things up and work together once more, but it's probably for the best that they stay apart professionally. Obviously their personalities step on the toes of the other to a pretty heavy degree.
We'll see how Steward/Cotto plays out. I don't know if it's so much a hiring because Manny is the exact right trainer for Miguel, or because they could mesh well personally, which I think plays just about as big a role in a trainer/fighter relationship as anything. In two months, we find out.