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Steward corners market for Lewis-McCall

February 5, 1997

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Trainer Emanuel Steward’s view of the Lennox Lewis-Oliver McCall rematch is different from the one he had for the first fight, but he still likes what he sees.

Steward trained McCall for his challenge to Lewis for the WBC heavyweight title Sept. 24 and was confident that McCall would win, which he did by stopping the favored Lewis in the second round.

Steward will be in Lewis’ corner for the rematch for the vacant WBC title Friday night at the Las Vegas Hilton and believes he’s backing a winner again because ``Lewis could lose his career if he loses, and he knows it.″

``If Oliver McCall beats me, I deserve to retire,″ Lewis said.

Just winning, however, is not enough if Lewis is to be a major player in the division, according to Steward.

``He’s got to win impressively,″ Steward said Wednesday before the final pre-fight news conference. ``He wasn’t impressive in the Mercer fight (a controversial decision win over Ray Mercer last May 10).″

Lewis was a 4-1 favorite.

``Oliver’s full of confidence that he can beat Lennox because he has been led to believe Lennox doesn’t have heart,″ Steward said. ``But I don’t think he’ll ever attain the level he was at for the first fight again. He was extremely sharp and focused that night.″

Steward, however, thinks, ``Our biggest asset for that fight was Pepe Correa (Lewis’ trainer). ``He didn’t have proper sparring. Pepe just told him to hit him with a right hand, and it will be all over″

Steward replaced Correa after that fight and since then Lewis is 4-0. George Benton replaced Steward as McCall’s trainer. Trainers leaving fighters and fighters changing trainers are common occurrences.

``I was making a lot of mistakes and I wasn’t being told about it,″ Lewis said. ``I had a great cheerleader in my corner, but not much of a trainer. I do accept some responsibility.″

``I did not learn anything special involving Oliver McCall that I’m bringing to Lennox Lewis,″ Steward said. ``My relationship with Lennox is just to bring out the best in him and that should be enough for him to win. ``I think he’s at 70 percent of his potential. When I got him he was 40 percent. I have a boxer that has enough to handle anything that happens that night.″

``I prefer that Manny be in Lewis’ corner more than anyone else because I know what Manny will teach him to try to do to me,″ McCall said.

McCall has had a batch of drug and legal problems since he lost the title on points to Frank Bruno. That was his second title defense, and since that loss he has fought and won twice.

The title became vacant when Mike Tyson, who won it by stopping Bruno in the third round, gave it up to successfully challenge Bruce Seldon for the WBA title.

McCall is getting $3.1 million and Lewis is getting $2 million for the 12-round bout to be televised by HBO. The telecast begins at 10 p.m. EST, with the fight to start at about 10:15 p.m.

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