First and foremost, I would like to thank all the readers who have participated in the auction of the Manny Pacquiao gloves with the proceeds going to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation. Also, many thanks to everyone who has donated $40.00 to the Foundation for Mike Silver's masterpiece "The Arc of Boxing", no arguments, the best book ever written about boxing.
My intent was to do the brief 12 round interview with Teddy but that format proved ineffective with this boxing legend. Teddy has plenty to say and he says a lot without pulling any punches. He tells the truth and lets the chips fall where they may. A man I am proud to call my hero. Let's welcome Teddy once again into the doghouse.
David Tyler - Teddy, thank you for taking the time for this interview. I know how busy you are with your work as a trainer, boxing analyst for ESPN, and of course the time you spend running the Foundation.
Teddy Atlas - David, my pleasure. Thank you for your contributions to the foundation and especially for the idea of auctioning the Pacquiao/ Roach gloves with the proceeds going to the Foundation. What's the latest on the auction bids?
DT - We are up to $1,100.00 for the gloves with about nine days left in the auction.
DT - Let's start with your immediate thoughts about the Mayweather/ Mosley fight?
TA - My first thought is that this is the first time in a long time that we have watched Mosley without performance enhancing drugs. I know that no one else will say that but it's a fair statement considering the fact that it is documented that he has used steroids which all came out during the BALCO investigation. Obviously he is older now so maybe that was also part of his lack of performance, lack of confidence, and lack of ability to perform on any kind of level that night. That really was my first thought that night because he just didn't look as strong as he has in previous fights at that weight. I also thought that Mayweather looked very good especially defensively but Sugar Ray Leonard would have knocked out Mosley that night. He would have been just as good defensively, more crafty, just as smart, just as talented as Mayweather but Ray Leonard would have went after him and found a way to kayo Mosley. Not a very exciting fight but a fight that showed us that Mayweather is a very difficult guy to deal with in the ring.
DT - Do you think Mayweather and Pacquiao will ever agree to a fight?
TA - When there is north of 40 million dollars for each guy and a lot of greedy people around them that call themselves promoters, managers, trainers, or whatever, these greedy people will find a way for the fight to happen. In fact, I would be shocked if the fight did not happen. Of course there will have to be compromises on both sides but the greedy people will have their say and again, I would be shocked if the fight doesn't happen.
DT - Who is your favorite boxer in the history of the sport?
TA - My favorite boxer of all time is Sam Langford. I never really watched him or got to meet him but he fought from lightweight to heavyweight. He fought during a very prejudice time against blacks and because of that prejudice only certain blacks were allowed to fight for the title. He was so good that even black fighters who held the title would not fight him. He beat nine champions in non-title fights. What he went through and what he had to suffer and still maintain that level physically for so long and to fight everybody and beat everybody. He was a guy that was very, very, special.
DT - And today?
TA - I like Timothy Bradley, he is a gentleman in and out of the ring. There has been nothing poor attached to him and I mean poor behavior. He has got all the heart in the world and is physically in good condition. He has very good skill sets with very good power. He is young and will be tested often but right now I would have to say he is my favorite fighter.
DT - The single best punch you have ever seen, on tape or live?
TA - One of the great punches that I saw because of the way it was set up, no so much the power or the results from the punch but the way it was set up. Most people would not notice the subtle nuances that set the punch up when Jersey Joe Walcott knocked out the great Ezzard Charles. He knocked him out with a left uppercut. The referee had just separated the fighters and Jersey Joe was wobbling side to side and he was adjusting his trunks. He was doing this on purpose, he was moving his shoulders side to side in an almost hypnotic way that distracted Charles. He started moving backwards with tiny steps almost in cadence and Charles followed him. Without breaking that cadence, Jersey Joe landed a left uppercut that knocked out Charles. The last thing that Charles saw was the shifting of the shoulders and had no suspicion that the punch was about to be thrown. That's why it landed.....99 % of people will not understand what I just described. That punch was so beautifully setup in a structure that all those subtle elements made it work. One of the best punches ever thrown.
DT - If you could take a current active fighter and match him against a fighter from the glory days of boxing, which fighters would you pick?
TA - I would take the most fashionable choice right now, the most exciting guy to watch right now, the most offensive minded guy, the most appeasing guy for fans right now and that would be Manny Pacquiao. He is a perpetual motion guy, ok let's see how perpetual motion he is, how great he is, let's just see how he stacks up in those areas against the greatest perpetual motion guy of all time, Henry Armstrong.
DT - If you could change a rule in boxing today what would you change?
TA - Part of me would like to see 15 round championship fights. I understand the danger part of the equation for 12 round fights but there are a lot of champions who would not be champions if they had to go three more rounds. Some guys lose the benefit of a talent that they have developed over many years, a talent being dependable, a talent of being strong mentally, a talent of being uncompromised, a talent of being completely devoted to a very high level of discipline. Those are all talents that take great sacrifices to develop. And guys who have developed those talents do not benefit from having them taken away by losing those three rounds. That's where those talents which have been developed painstakingly over many years will surface. The other thing that I would do a clean sweep and get rid of all the rating organizations and find a better way of rating fighters. Maybe use some of the boxing writers and others who are knowledgeable about the sport to make these kinds of decisions. There is something really, really, wrong about fighters ratings based on relationships where there is money being exchanged for those ratings, certainly not based on the merit of the fighters work in the ring. Fighters that have worked so hard to get the ratings that would lead them to the big money fights are losing out when these kind of questionable acts are taking place behind the scenes.
DT - Teddy, what is the worse decision you have ever seen in the history of boxing?
TA - There has been a lot of them...I remember a few years back where they took away a fight from Emanuel Augustus in a bout with Courtney Burton that was simply despicable and made you think of corruption and incompetence in the sport. I know you were thinking that I would say Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in their first fight but I would not throw that one in the mix. There has been much worse decisions. In the interest of trying to clean this sport from corruption, I have to mention that the person who was part of the corruption, judge Eugenia Williams, had $30,000.00 recently deposited in her bank account with no traceability. This was never followed up to the point where anyone went to jail or obvious disciplinary action took place. The investigation never went fully to the point where somebody was prosecuted which is ludicrous in a sport that is trying to clean up corruption. There was enough evidence that would make anyone think two, three, four times that Eugenia Williams was paid off for that fight and her involvement in that fight was corruptible. At the very worse there was a look of impropriety and it was way worse than even that, just to believe that it was never followed up is a sad thing for boxing. Even worse, incredibly she was allowed to continue judging big fights. I think that is one of the most absurd things and saddest situations ever in this sport. It is paralyzing to realize that somebody involved in that decision and all the improprieties discovered and all the aftermath of the investigation, and yet this judge is still working in the business. That has to be one of the most discouraging and depressing things about this sport....it just didn't clean itself up and yet it had an opportunity to at least remove her from the sport and what does the sport do?....It keeps her in the sport! She betrayed her position of trust that she would put forth her best effort to protect the fighters in the ring in the way they needed to be protected, that they would get the decision that they earned that they didn't take all those punches for nothing. You would be hard pressed to ask your readers out there where else or what sport could Eugenia Williams continue to work and be paid after a situation like that in the Lewis/ Holyfield fight? In no other industry where there is a mechanism in place to deal with misconduct would this situation happen. At the very least if she didn't go to jail, she should not have been allowed to work in this business ever again. It's no different than a Cop who is sworn to protect the public and betrays his post when he goes on the side of a drug dealer, a sociopath who's interest is obviously to hurt society, and the Cop is supposed to be protecting the citizens that pay his salary. If the Cop is caught on the other side would he ever get his license back? He doesn't get his badge back, it just doesn't work that way. Now you can understand why I could not place that fight under the heading of "bad decision".
DT - One bad decision and one where the outcome was predetermined. Any more on bad decisions or the ramifications of bad decisions?
TA - Another bad decision was a fight that I did for ESPN between Hugo Dianzo who was fighting Paulie Ayala who was the Featherweight Champ. Dianzo did a great job, good enough to win the title that night but the judges robbed him. What bothers me about that and I said it that night, "this kid will never fight the fight he did that night". Even if he gets another title fight he will never fight the way he did that night. That was eight or nine years ago and he never did get another shot at the title. It's a shame because that night he was prepared and gave his best and won the fight every which way including sideways. He won the fight coming and going and he totally dominated that fight and to be robbed the way he was robbed took so much away from him. It robbed him of the opportunity to be a world champ, opportunity of going forward to bigger fights, the ability to take care of his family, all the dreams he had for his family and for himself was all taken away by a bad decision. He was forced to go back to fights that he would not have had to go back and take more and more punches for maybe an opportunity to fight once again for the championship. He was never the same fighter that he was the night he rightfully won the Featherweight Championship. It's not just a bad decision it's robbing a guy of his future. You're now making this guy go back and take all those punches again to just maybe get another shot a making some money. His future was to make money and get out, his future was to win the championship and fight at that level and earn the money that a champion makes and provide for his family and get out of the sport before he gets seriously hurt. Fans just understand that it was a bad decision and do not understand what happens to the fighter that literally got robbed.
DT - We have spoken before about the many "conflicts of interest in boxing" especially the situation which surfaces quite often and that would be two boxers owned by the same promoter like Bob Arum. Recent Manny Pacquiao fights are such an example.
TA - Unfortunately in this sport you can have a guy sitting on both sides of the fence where his loyalty or allegiance doesn't have to be to one guy where it should be. That means his commitment doesn't have to be pure and in this sport people lay their lives on the line to some degree and sometimes leave a part of themselves in the ring. If they do something that pure then the other parts of the equation should be absolute pure too. We should remove some of these conflicts where a guy can go into a ring against another guy and the only guy for sure that's going to win is the promoter. When a fighter is paying you, trusting you, to ensure that he gets the right purse, the right deal, the right judges, the right referee, that everyone involved knows the rules will be applied properly and fairly. Not only that but the promoter is fighting for you to have such edges as the right gloves, the right ring size, he is working to ensure that every possible edge is in your favor. I ask you, should he also be doing that for the other guy too? No, because if he is pulling for the other guy too, then he can't being doing all these things for you, it has to be tainted, it has to be a conflict, it is tainted, it is compromised, and this just shouldn't be done in this sport. Not when a guy needs your trust to the level that a fighter needs your total commitment to his well being.
DT - Teddy, I know you are short on time but I thank you very much for the interview.
TA - David, thank you once again for all your work for the foundation and call anytime.
Also, contact me (email@example.com) if you made a $40.00 tax deductable donation to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation and I will follow up to ensure that you receive your copy of "The Arc of Boxing" by boxing historian Mike Silver.
Thank you in advance for the tax deductable donations to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation!
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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