“JUST the details,” Errol Spence, an admirer of Emanuel Steward, responds when, as the fighter who knows the remarkably in-demand Derrick James better than any other, he is asked what makes the trainer so good. “Details, how he always – even if you’re doing it the right way, he’s still going to remind you. Like, ‘Keep your hands up’. A lot of the time I’m like, ‘I am keeping my hands up’. He’s like, ‘I know you’re keeping your hands up – I’m just reminding you, keep your hands up’.
“He’s very detailed; he works on the small things; the small things can add up to big things. Especially if there’s a lot of them. So we work on the small things. And what’s good about him is he don’t try to change you. He has little bits and pieces he need to change, but he don’t try to change you. Like Naseem Hamed – how crazy he fights – he wouldn’t try and change him and try to make him fight like Marco Antonio Barrera. He’d just add little pieces to his game. But he’d keep it the same ‘cause it works for him.
“And he used to be a boxer. So he knows how it is – how you’re feeling. When you’re losing weight, or it’s five weeks [out from fight night] and you’re feeling weak. ‘Alright, that’s enough. We don’t have to do that much today.’ ‘Cause he know you’re feeling sluggish, or you’re feeling down. I feel like he can relate more to a boxer, ‘cause he was an ex-boxer. So he know how it is when you’re losing weight. He know how it is when it’s a sore day in the gym. He know how it is when you had a hard day and the next day you’re feeling kind of down and sluggish. I feel like he relates to the boxer more because he was actually a professional boxer. He was one of us.
“Derrick hasn’t changed anything for me [since being recruited by Anthony Joshua and Ryan Garcia, and since Jermell Charlo signed to fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez]. Everybody get there on time. I see Frank [Martin] in the gym, or I might see Anthony Joshua, but it’s like, through passing.
“My time’s over; I’m leaving the gym, then I see Frank, or I see Anthony Joshua, or I might see Ryan Garcia. We never train at the same time. I might train with Frank at the same time, or if we have something to do I might train with Anthony at the same time, but everybody has their set time when they come and they train.
“[We’re] definitely, definitely feeding off each other. You always want to work hard ‘cause you know the other guys are working hard. Especially if you’re in the gym together; y’all sparring, you try and spar a little harder. Just because you know you got another top athlete watching.”