Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Javan ‘SugarHIll’ Steward talks about the Tyson Fury hookup

Javan "Sugar" Hill

Javan “SugarHill” Steward has been around mega events for most of his life, being that he was at the side of the legendary tutor Emanuel Steward as a young pup, and as he grew up. He watched, listened, soaked it up, and he still hears the voice of Manny in his head as he trains pugilists in Michigan.

The nephew of the famed and fabled trainer/analyst, who left us in October 2012, has been around those marquee clashes, and been party to the rare thrill of luxuriating in an ambience that is unlike any other. The stakes are such in boxing, the monetary, the pride up for grabs, the knowledge that sometimes a boxer pays the ultimate price, that the electricity rippling during a mega-bout confers a jolt that you can get addicted to.

Come February, Steward will be in soaking mode, akin to some of those Tommy Hearns extravganzas, because he’s latched on with the long tall Traveller, the Gypsy King, Tyson Fury (age 31; 29-0-1 record, with 20 KOs.)

You’ve probably heard that Fury parted ways with young Ben Davison, and he will be working with SugarHill to formulate the training and the game-planning to get the better of WBC champ Deontay Wilder. Wilder and Fury will collide in Las Vegas, offering a sequel to their intriguing December 2018 scrap which was deemed a draw.

I chatted with the 48-year-old Michigan native, and asked how he felt when he learned that he’d be tasked with collaborating with Fury for the super-fight.

“I’m excited about this event and opportunity all that it brings with it,” Steward said. “This is not nothing, I’m actually being a part of it now!”

Yes, he surely did think of Manny, of what Manny might say, how he’d react when he learned that nephew would be getting the most celebrated client of his coaching life. “Of course I did think about that, he was like my father, and so many things he said, it was almost like a prophet. I’m thinking of what he told me, bringing me up on boxing, he’d say, ‘Keep winning, things will happen.’ I’m not boisterous, I stay humble, I just wanna do my job, be a teacher. I wanna teach and win. That’ll be my reputation.”

Now, Fury had been on Steward’s radar for a spell. The basketball-sized boxer vistited the Kronk crew, in 2010. Steward told RING a bit more about how the pairing was cemented. “I talked to him yesterday (Sunday), he called me up. We talked before that. I was going to be part of the team. Then it came out, we talked and right after that that I am the head of the team.”

The ex Detroit cop has trained Adonis Stevenson, Anthony Dirrell, and yes, he was there when Manny’s guy Andy Lee the Irishman who happens to be Fury’s cousin, was readying for a tango. That’s when Tyson–hey, he had a nice head of hair on him!– came to town, and yes, he left behind an impression.

Steward believes him and Fury will hook up at the first of the year, which gives them seven weeks of camp.

“That’s good enough, I see he’s already been training,” the tutor stated. He will “do whatever it takes to win,” so he’ll de-camp and lay down temp roots in Vegas, or wherever, need be, he continued.

Yes, Steward will hit the tape hard, watch Fury, watch Wilder, see what his big lad has been bringing to the table, what holes appear in the Wilder arsenal which Fury can exploit.

It helps that he’s long been impressed with Fury. That 2010 visit, what stood out? “I remember I thought he had exceptional coordination,” Steward said. “I thought he was an exceptional athlete. The same thing Emanuel said! And also not just his boxing skills, but his personality, his character traits, those are the things that make great champions.”

The soften spoken Steward, who repeated a few times what Manny used to say, keep winning and things will take care of themselves, would he go out on a limb and state that Fury will best Wilder in their PPV faceoff?

“I have to say that, I’m not gonna say Wilder is gonna beat Tyson! I believe in him one hundred percent,” said the Kronk heir, who has been working hard to help restore Detroit as a cookie’ fight town. “In amateurs you take fights to learn and grow, but in the pros you take fight you know you can win. This is big time boxing, this is what I’ve been around my whole life, I’m ready for this. This is icing on the cake. This is the heavyweight division, not middleweights, these are the top dogs of the heavyweight division, where one punch can change everything. I love being in it where one punch can change it all. The biggest challenge is in the heavyweight division. This is a 6-9 and a 6-6 guy, top tier guys. It’s the same guys Emanuel said would be top of the food chain! And what might Emanuel be looking down and thinking on fight night? He’s gonna be thinking knockout, that’s the only one hundred percent way to secure the win. You know you won the fight. I hate listening to scorecards being read! This is it, boxer versus puncher, Ali versus Frazier.”

My three cents: Yeah, no coincidence that he touches on that classic, and those all-stars for the ages. With Steward, Fury is getting a bit of magic by symbiosis, he’s connecting his past, with the glory of Kronk, and updating it all, to, possibly, help conjure a victory that will launch him to greater glory.


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