Save-A-Heart bout may help salvage career - Stewart's

March 06, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Who is the real Alex Stewart?

Is he the longtime heavyweight contender who went the distance with Evander Holyfield and lost a controversial decision to George Foreman in 1992?

Or is he the 32-year-old native of London who looked frightened in lasting less than a round against Mike Tyson seven years ago, and, most recently, was stopped by journeyman Craig Petersen in Tokyo.

Some clues will be offered tonight when Stewart (41-6, 37 KOs) battles Simon Cohen (14-7-1, 7 KOs) in the main event on the Save-a-Heart charity card at the Hyatt Regency.

"With Alex, you never know what to expect," manager Jim Fennell said. "One night, he looks like an 'A' fighter, but his next fight he might look like a 'Z' fighter.

"I really think he fights up to the level of the competition. If he's in there with a Holyfield or Foreman, he gives his best. But put him in with a 'no-name' like Petersen, and his heart doesn't seem to be in it."

At this point in his career, Stewart, no longer in the world rankings, realizes he has to treat every fight as if a championship is at stake.

"I'm not worried about the rankings right now," he said. "I'm fighting for the fans and only taking fights that interest me. After this, I'm not fighting any more 'no-names.' "

Stewart, who learned to fight in Brooklyn, blames his inconsistency on a lack of activity.

"My first three years as a pro, I had 25 fights, all knockout wins except a loss in my first fight with Holyfield," he said.

"Then I signed a promotional deal with Dan Duva of Main Events, Inc. They were supposed to keep me busy, at least four or five fights a year. But I was only fighting a couple of times a year."

Duva may have lost interest in Stewart after he was stopped by both Tyson and Michael Moorer.

"I overtrained for Tyson and got down to 218, about 12 pounds below my normal weight," Stewart recalled. "He caught me early and, you know, he's a great finisher."

Fennell explained it differently.

"Alex was at an emotional and physical peak for Tyson before the fight was postponed," the manager said. "A month later, he wasn't the same fighter, just going through the motions. The night of the fight, when he saw Tyson across the ring, he froze like a deer caught in the headlights."

Stewart may have enjoyed his finest hour in his 10-round loss to Foreman, whose battered face resembled a mashed potato after the final bell.

"I thought the worst I deserved was a draw," Stewart said. "George knew he lost the fight, but he's still a remarkable man for his age."

But Stewart looked the part of a journeyman in being stopped by Petersen last November after suffering a cut eye.

"It should have never happened," Stewart said. "I took the fight on two weeks notice and only sparred a week. The bottom line was I was just too cocky."

Stewart, who admits he is not one for saving money, cannot afford any more off nights. Now living in Safety Harbor, Fla., he has a wife and daughter to support

"I don't want to fight too much longer," he said. "I want a title shot before I quit. Before, I was all offense. Now, I'm wiser and stronger. And, like they say, I'm running out of time."

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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