Catching up with Teddy Atlas
Teddy Atlas is nothing, if not busy.
Between his role as ringside analyst for ESPN and running the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day for the Staten Island, New York-based Atlas. However, Teddy always takes a few minutes from his busy schedule to chat with UCNLive and we recently had a chance to catch up and cover a few topics.
Bill Tibbs: There has been a lot of reaction in the press to the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao decision on July 1. Horn came out and criticized you for your immediate reaction after the fight while most people (outside of Horn fans) said you were absolutely correct in your assessment of the fight. What are your thoughts looking back?
Teddy Atlas: Same as they were right after the fight. Pacquiao won the fight. You had one guy throwing and missing and you had one guy throwing and landing. One guy landed all the clean shots and one guy just threw punches. Listen, Horn made a good effort and put in a gutsy performance but you are supposed to do that. You are a fighter and fighters are supposed to be game and put in a good effort. But that doesn’t mean you get rewarded for it with points you didn’t score. Being game and tough, that is what you are supposed to be as a fighter. You shouldn’t get extra credit for it; it’s what you are supposed to be doing. Fighters are warriors; they are brave men and they give a lot of themselves in that ring and don’t always leave the ring the same person. Horn made a good effort but that is what he is supposed to do. He was busy with wide shots that quite frankly looked quite amateurish, a lot of the time. He was throwing a lot of punches but they weren’t doing damage and were missing a lot. Pacquiao threw punches and landed and the effective, damaging punches.
BT: Was Manny simply the victim of a bad decision or did Manny get old that night?
TA: I just told you: He got a bad decision. Yes, he’s not the same guy he was a couple of years ago but that shouldn’t diminish the fact that he beat Horn. I get it; he’s not the same guy he was before but he still beat Horn. Listen, Pacquiao is rich. We aren’t going to be having a pity party for him but, you know, when a guy loses, he gets bumped back in the line. Maybe not Pacquiao but a loss hurts a guy. Not just speaking about Pacquiao here but maybe a guy who loses gets bumped back in the line; maybe he doesn’t ever get back to that place again. Or, if he does get back there, he has take a thousand more punches to get to that spot and that bothers me. In my job, I have a responsibility, on the platform that I have, to say things that maybe other people won’t say. I see that Pacquio has definitely dissipated and he isn’t the same fighter he once was but he should have got that decision. These judges have a guy’s career and life in their hands and they have to be better than that.
BT: Marcus Browne recently beat a tough, game and undefeated Seanie Monaghan. I know you know Marcus well. What are your thoughts on that fight and on Browne?
TA: I know Marcus Browne really well. He is an Atlas Foundation fighter and he came from one of our gyms. He just had too much talent for that guy, too many skills and physical talent for Monaghan. Marcus can box, can fight inside. He knows how to counter; he knows about distance. He can fight. Monaghan is a game guy but that was a case of just a whole different level of talent in there.
BT: On July 29, Adrien Broner takes on Mikey Garcia. That is a good fight. What are your thoughts?
TA: I like Garcia in that fight. As a fighter, Garcia is one of my favorite fighters out there today. I like how he conducts himself inside and outside the ring. He knows how to control range and he probably has the second-best set of legs in the business after (WBO junior lightweight titlist) Vasyl Lomachenko. Mikey doesn’t waste punches. He knows exactly why he’s throwing a punch and he shows great control in the ring. If you move in six inches, he steps back eight and then makes you pay. He is a really good fighter and I definitely like him in that fight.
BT: On August 5, we have Vasyl Lomachenko fighting Miguel Marriaga. Is Vasyl the best fighter out there today?
TA: I’ll say the exact same thing I have been saying about Lomachenko from Day One. Yes, he is the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in the world. I remember when I was asked to make up my pound-for-pound list a couple of years ago for ESPN.com and Vasyl had only had one fight at that time and I put Lomachenko on the list. I got a lot of criticism for it. People were saying, ‘What is Atlas thinking, rating him in the pound-for-pound list after only one fight?’ But I don’t worry about criticism; I just tell what I know and what I see. You have to remember, I had seen him at two Olympics, winning two gold medals. I knew what kind of fighter this guy was, even before he made his pro debut. Yes, I’d still rate him as the best in the world, for his style, his skill, his level of opposition, all of it. I’d rate him number one and Andre Ward number two and (WBC/WBO junior welterweight champion Terence) Crawford number three. Or, you could switch Ward and Crawford in the two and three positions because Crawford is very good. But I’d rate Lomachenko as number one, Ward number two and Crawford as number three.
BT: The press tour for Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is over. Now they just have to get ready and then it’s fight time. How do you see that playing out? Do you see McGregor having any chance at all against Mayweather?
TA: I give McGregor as much chance of winning as I do seeing (House of Representatives minority leader) Nancy Pelosi and (President) Donald Trump sitting down to a candlelight diner. This guy is a caveman; he is not a boxer. He has a selection of fighting skills in kicking and grappling and on the ground and all that other stuff but, as a boxer, he punches only in spurts and against a low level of guy. Listen, this isn’t just a reaction or something I am throwing out there but I could name 20 guys who are C-class fighters, with .500 records, who would destroy this guy. The promotion has set up an atmosphere, where people are believing with their imaginations and they see what they wanna see. Even with Mayweather being out of the ring for two years and distractions with the IRS and things like that, this guy McGregor has no chance. Mayweather won’t be the same guy he was two years ago but he’ll have more than enough to beat this guy. Listen, this clearly isn’t a prime Mayweather and it bothers me a little that he took the fight on short notice. Maybe he didn’t give himself the proper time to train but, being being 40 and two years out of the ring and all that, he should have more than enough to beat this guy. This isn’t a prime Mayweather but it doesn’t have to be a prime Mayweather to beat this guy.
BT: You forged a great friendship with Timothy Bradley over the two fights you have worked with him. He has been off for a while now. Does he have any plans to return to the ring anytime soon and will you again be training him?
TA: Timmy will be making an announcement soon about what he is doing, so I will let him do that. Whatever he decides to do, I will back him and support him 100%. Tim is such a great guy, such a fantastic person, him and his wife and family, all of them, just great people. But I will let Timmy announce his plans for the future.
BT: Thanks for the chat again, Teddy. I hope you are having a good summer.
TA: Thanks, Bill. I am having a good summer but it’s always busy. I am always working. I am working with my foundation. We never stop. There is always people needing help. We also have three gyms that we run and there are 650 kids training in them. We have to keep them up and running, as they are a good place for kids, a good alternative to some of the distractions that the streets have to offer. We want to be a better offer than the streets. I’m enjoying some holiday time with my son (Oakland Raiders scouting coordinator Teddy Atlas III), who is here. We are getting ready for a big family baby shower on Sunday for my daughter (New York-based attorney Nicole Atlas), who is pregnant, so my wife is getting ready for that. We look forward to welcoming our first grandchild this October. We are blessed.