Friday November 16 7:23 PM ET

Steward Implores Lewis to Think Less and Punch More

By Steve Keating

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Reuters) - When Emmanuel Steward wants to get Lennox Lewis upset and in the right frame of mind for a big fight, he hides the Briton's chess set.

In a serious effort to get Lewis thinking less and punching more, Steward admitted Friday he had taken to hiding the former-champion's kings and queens ahead of Saturday's heavyweight title fight rematch with Hasim Rahman.

The American caused a huge upset in April when he stripped Lewis of his World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) crowns with a fifth round knockout in South Africa.

``I honestly, don't like him playing chess,'' moaned Steward as he looked out from the penthouse of the Mandalay Bay resort. ''When we get close to fight I try to hide it.

``I mean I see him sitting there for 10 minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one and he actually does the same thing in the ring.

``He (Lewis) thinks to much,''

Steward, a well-respected trainer who has worked with many world champions, has often criticized Lewis (38-2-1) for being too cautious, for treating a fight as if it were a game of chess -- becoming too cerebral and not physical enough.


Having compared Lewis to the greatest heavyweights in history, Steward shook with absolute frustration at his inability to get the his fighter to realize his full potential.

``He is one of the most talented, technically and physically sound heavyweights I have ever seen,'' said Steward, shaking his head. ``But it takes other qualities.

``Lennox is just so frustrating...knowing that I'm working with all this talent and unable to unleash it.

``I don't ever know what he's going to do. I know what he's capable of doing.

``Sometimes when he explodes, even a little bit, it's breathtaking and then he goes back to playing chess.

``You don't ever know, he's a puzzle to all of us.''

Even after two months of intensive preparation for the fight, developing a battle and so much riding on outcome, Steward admitted he does not know what Lewis will do once the bell rings.

But one thing Steward said he did know was that the outcome of Saturday's fight will go a long way to determining Lewis' place in the sport's history.

``His legacy, if he loses, will be that he was a guy who was fortunate to get to a certain point but just wasn't strong enough on the inside, didn't have the real fire to be a great fighter,'' assessed Steward.


``He would still be a two-time world champion, an Olympic gold medal winner but it would hurt everything he has accomplished.

``Lennox is fighting to hold on what he's worked 24 years to get, his reputation.

``He's been boxing since he was 12 and all his accomplishments are wavering on this fight.

``This man's whole career is on the line.

``If he wins, he would be considered up there with the top heavyweights, not the greatest but up there with the tops along with the Alis.

``He'd have to be in the top 10.''