“I always felt like I was swimming alone in the big ocean of boxing. But now I’m in the boat. »
The ship is a promotional company of Eye of the Tiger Management (EOTTM). The boxer is Steve Claggett, a self-taught pugilist from Calgary. The Canadian “Dragon” will face the American Miguel Maduen on Tuesday evening, in the final of the gala tournament held in the Montreal Casino.
Claggett (36-7-2, 25 KOs) will defend his NABF super lightweight belt (140 pounds) and try to get his hands on the vacant WBO title.
This will be his eighth fight in the team led by Camille Estephan. The 34-year-old boxer previously spent his entire professional career as a free agent.
“(Estephan) gives me guidance, support,” Claggett said the newspapera few minutes after the official weigh-in held at the Cabaret du casino, Monday at noon.
Although he is preparing for an important fight that should finally prove that he belongs to the elite of his division, the Albertan answers our questions with a calm voice, Olympic calm and always smiling in the corner.
This support offered by EOTTM is “something I haven’t had in a long time,” he says. “I am grateful to them.”
Estephan draws a parallel between Claggett’s journey and that of Russell Crowe’s character in the film The Cinderella Man (2005). The feature film is about a boxer from the Great Depression “who was going nowhere”, who “wasn’t expected to become a big star”. Spoiler alert: the story ends triumphantly.
Steve, it’s kind of the same story, I think. Early in his career, he was a guy who took fights at the last minute. He was constantly in the gym, so he acquired good habits. He was brought in to be the “adversary”.
That is, the foil, the visitor, the one facing the favorite. “He didn’t have coach, literally. He trained himself. He didn’t spar. He was all alone, in Calgary. »
“And he often caused surprise,” says the promoter. It was often stolen. He has a schedule now. He knows that he is no longer an opponent. He’s in corner A, not corner B.”
“Steve Claggett is wonderful”
Steve Claggett is undefeated since the start of his partnership with EOTTM, specifically coach Mike Moff.
In the person of Miguel Maduen (30-1, 28 KOs), “Claggett is facing a real opponent,” emphasizes the friendly Moffa.
“We will find out what he is made of, whether he belongs in the first league. »
Aside from the title, that’s also what’s at stake on Tuesday night.
“Promoters want to see that. Steve Claggett is wonderful, the promoters love him. Makes a play, makes the opponents work. It makes for an exciting fight. »
Same story for Marc Ramsay, Head Coach at EOTTM.
“He’s a brilliant guy in the ring, he applies a lot of pressure, he makes his opponents crack. It’s a recipe that suits him well. And she has a good marriage with Mike Moff. We’ve seen progress in the last few fights. »
Like all marriages, this relationship does not necessarily run smoothly.
“We are good opponents, but we are even better teammates,” emphasizes Steve Claggett. We cooperate well. It’s great to work with someone who has the same passion for boxing as I do. »
Moffa laughs that he has clashed with Claggett at least once in each of the previous seven training camps. But not this time.
“He always trained his way,” he said. In the past, he brought whoever he wanted to his corner. But here, that’s my way. And he is not used to that. We had small charkas. »
For this eighth training camp, “it was harmonious from start to finish! Claggett says. “We didn’t succeed in vain, but we haven’t shown anything yet. The best is yet to come. »
Corner B is finished this time too. He is the star of the gala evening.
“It’s great,” gasps the boxer. I feel like I’ve been on the run all my life. And finally, I have an organization that puts me in the race. Now I can show how fast I run. »
“Steven needed a change of environment”
Although Steven Butler has had two world championship fights, his bout on Tuesday is “the most important of his life,” according to his new trainer, American John Scully.
“That’s how boxing works,” he said. Almost all of your struggles are the biggest in your life. But this one especially, after this defeat. »
That’s because the fighter from Montreal (32-4-1, 26 KOs) lost said world championship fights. The one last May, against Zhanibek Alimkhanuly in Stockton, hurt him the most: this heavy failure in two rounds made him question himself for the rest of his career.
In this context, “it’s all or nothing (boom or bust) » Tuesday against Mexican Ivan Alvarez (32-14-4, 21 KOs) in the semi-finals, says Camille Estephan.
“His state of mind is to give himself a real, ultimate chance to make all the sacrifices,” the promoter believes. I personally think it is concentration he wasn’t always there 100%. You have a family, you have a lot of responsibilities. The top in sports, in boxing or elsewhere, put all their concentration into it. I don’t think he’s done that in his career so far. »
At least until this training camp. Steven Butler left his “comfort zone” by moving to Hartford, Connecticut, the city where John Scully’s gym is located.
“I think Steven needed a change of scenery,” said Marc Ramsay. To change the habits he had here in Montreal. »
“The direction we were going before, he wouldn’t have made it,” says Estephan. We tried twice, failed twice. A drastic change had to be made. »
John Scully knows the house well, having worked with Ramsay to train Artur Beterbiev. Although Butler was ripe for a change, his new coach says he wasn’t rushing him too much.
“People think that new coaches will change everything. It’s crazy to do that. I’m letting him fight, but we’re improving his shot, making him think a little more. »
Steven Butler got the coaching he needed. Now it’s up to him to do the job, Camille Estephan believes.
“You can lead a horse to the well, but it’s up to him to drink. »
“Watch out for Imam Khataev”
Camille Estephan has high hopes for Australian Imam Khataev (4-0, 4 KOs). “In my opinion, it’s the best we’ve signed so far,” he said. Nothing less. The 29-year-old gladiator will face Mexican Fernando Galvano on Tuesday night. “He has 60 amateur fights, he is the world amateur champion, he won bronze at the Olympic Games (in Tokyo). » On Monday, the look he gave his opponent as they posed after the weigh-in was the sharpest of all. The tension cut with a knife, so much so that heads in the room turned when it was released. “We want to get it up and running quickly,” Estephan says. If he recovers (Tuesday), we want to bring him the title on January 13. »