|Interview with Teddy Atlas - Part Two: On Pacquiao, Cotto, Donaire, Mosley, Hopkins, P4P Best lists and tons more!
By David Tyler, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 22, 2009)
David Tyler Teddy, what are your thoughts about the upcoming Super Middleweight Tournament sponsored by Showtime Boxing? (*Readers - Please note a link to part one can be found at the bottom of this Interview)
Teddy Atlas You know a lot of this stuff I don’t get excited about. Most of it is just self serving bull crap because the promoters are hooked in with the network and they try to present it as good for boxing, good for the fan base and it’s not. Its snake oil salesmen, used car salesmen, giving you the same old sales pitch. We usually see it for what it is and the bottom line is that it usually comes out to be hollow, empty, and self-serving……NOT this time. This time I buy into it, it’s a good solid tournament, the guys they have in there are good fighters and they given us a reason to watch and care about this tournament. It’s good for boxing, it’s good for the fans and I really think it’s a solid tournament.
DT Who do you like as the favorite in this tournament?
TA I like the kid from Germany, Arthur Abraham. His style, his ability, his success so far, his confidence of not having been beaten, his maturity. his tough defense, and when he turns on the offense he is very accurate and obviously brings tons of power with that offense. It seems like he has a good steady temperament filled with confidence, he believes in himself. Ever heard the story about seeing a sword and you think it’s a good sword to take into battle. But has that sword been dipped into that hot metal. Into that fire, where it’s not going to crack in the middle of battle, has it been tested, has it been forged in those areas? David, that’s the key with anything in life, especially things where you are going to go forward with a real high degree. Has it been dipped into that fire? You get the feeling with Abraham that he has been through the fire. I think he is going to be a difficult guy for anyone he fights.
DT Who do you pick for the finals in that tournament?
TA - Probably Mikkel Kessler from Denmark. I think there is a good or very good chance that Abraham and Kessler are in the finals. That would make for a very interesting match. It will be the more unconventional or different style offense against the more conventional style of Kessler. A guy like Abraham will pick select spots at the right times when he turns on the offense. Kessler may have the advantage of speed to get ahead but when Abraham finds his moments they will be bigger than the moments of Kessler. This will enable Abraham to make up quickly for the spots where Kessler was ahead of him. I find this interesting and the fight will be a fan favorite when and if it happens.
DT What would be the Teddy Atlas P4P list of today’s fighters.
TA I don’t have a list in front of me so you might have to throw names at me. Ones that are easy that come to me would be Mayweather and some people will say Teddy he has been out for a year but we all knew that he was coming back. I don’t think anybody was fooled; hell anybody with a nickname of Money is coming back. I would call you sleepy and a little naïve if you didn’t think he was coming back. I not going to penalize him because he retired and came back, he still belongs on top of the list.
TA I’m going to put Marquez up there because on a P4P list you can put a defensive fighter on the list but you know what, he has fought the best guys in his division with top results, great temperament, and great character so I’m going to put Marquez up there next to Mayweather.
DT Two down who is next?
TA David, probably Pacquiao even though I think there is a little bit of optical illusion there. I got to put a qualifier on it like buyer beware. Just remember that his last two fights that we are all going ga, ga over has probably projected him to the point that in people’s minds as pound for pound the top guy. Pacquiao is not the top guy. Those fights can be very, very, misleading and that’s what I mean by an optical illusion. Let’s face it, De La Hoya was probably a dead man, taking nothing away from Pacquiao he and Freddie Roach knew this and he did what he had to do. De La Hoya is a guy who never won the big fights; he always found a way to come up short, always in the big fights. It’s could be that he came down in weight too much combined with his lack of character in big fights. I don’t know, but I do know that we shouldn’t get carried away with that win. It should be understood that with the Hatton fight that he was made to order for this guy. I know Pacquiao did a job on him. But quite honestly, Hatton is the kind of guy that if you have some ability he will crack a little bit if you’re professional enough that you have a simple game plan of setting your feet and punching the last three feet, you can get him. Hatton just doesn’t know how to fight, I hate to say that but obviously he didn’t learn from Mayweather how to fight. He has that flaw where when he cocks his hand back there is a big hole in the middle, if you have some ability to punch with him, you can not miss him, you can’t miss him, and it will be there every day and twice on Sunday. You can count on that and there is very few things in life that you can count on but this is one. Before we go ga, ga, and anoint Pacquiao the greatest flyweight, or featherweight or whatever weight he is now, of all time, we shouldn’t be doing it from those two fights. Let’s stay real and not get dizzy over those last two fights. Having said that, he has great speed and I am talking about precision speed, he has a lot of character, a lot of skills and Freddie Roach has done his job by keeping this guy on track and he is still improving. Just the last few years he has gotten better…a more complete fighter.
DT Who else is on your list?
TA I would put Shane Mosley on there. He has longevity a consummate pro and longevity means something here, consistency, lots of ability, and that’s a talent that should be applauded. He has technical and physical ability you can’t just have one or another and go on the P4P platform.
DT How about Miguel Cotto?
TA I don’t know if I would put Cotto on there. Especially off his last two fights. If I did put him on my list he would be at the very bottom. I applaud him for the gallant warrior he has been for taking on all comers in this period and time. He has given us some great fights. I know my statements will draw the wrath of some people but Dave if you’re asking me to take this seriously then I don’t know if he belongs on the list. Of course we will know for sure after the Pacquiao fight.
DT What about Paul Williams or Kelly Pavlik they will be fighting each other in November?
TA Neither Williams nor Pavlik belong on my list. Williams with all that height and speed has underachieved in my mind. He did not show me much in the Quintana fight where he fought down in ability. Sure if he beats Pavlik we can revisit the issue but he must beat a top performer and do it like a champion to erase the bad thoughts of the first Quintana fight.
DT Bernard Hopkins?
TA Hopkins goes on that list. I know he lost to Calzaghe and he is at a point in his career that he has seen his better days. I am giving him credit for his body of work. The entirety of his career and the respect that he captured when he was at the height of his abilities. Also, technically a very solid fighter.
DT- Familiar with Nonito Donaire?
TA Not only am I familiar with him but I saw him fight in the amateurs years ago when he was trying to make the Olympic team. He is a solid guy with a solid amateur pedigree and its part of his consistently, part of his worth, part of his merit that he can rely on to make the right decision. Very solid mentally and physically. I like the way he approaches the business by going to the body and going to the head.
DT And the Heavyweights?
TA I wouldn’t pay two plug nickels to watch the Klitschko’s fight. However, they are the best guys out there. They have identified their style, they have identified their weaknesses and strengths and they are able to tangibly put those things to work every time they get into the ring. They need to work on the mental aspect, the older one is the strongest, but he can be taken to a weak place if you get past his right hand punching power. The older one is stronger mentally but the younger one can still be taken to a weak place. If you can get past his long range, he controls range well, and if you get close to him he is not embarrass to hold you, kind of like holding your girlfriend. It’s smart for him being that he knows his weaknesses but it is not something I would pay to watch, not something that I would plan my day around. There are very few heavyweights between the brothers, very few heavyweights that you can count on to deliver a good fight.
DT How about the all time P4P list?
TA Hmm let me think, this list would be in no particular order of greatness just my best or favorite fighters. I had the privilege or luxury of watching all the past fighters because I worked for Cus D’Amato and he had a huge library of tapes of the past greats. ESPN now owns the tapes.
Henry Armstrong Here is a guy that was a beast of a man just a monster. He held three different weight classes and was robbed out of the middleweight title. This was when there were only eight weight divisions.
Sam Langford - They called him the Boston Tar Baby, here’s a guy that couldn’t get a fair shake in this country he fought at a time blacks were looked at as second class citizens. He fought everybody there was, he had over 300 fights. He had about 130 knockouts. He fought everyone from lightweight to heavyweight. I understand that there were lots of catch weight fights in those days but he still fought them all.
Sugar Ray Leonard He was a great fighter a bulldog when he needed to be one. He was fast and strong and took on all comers.
Roberto Duran - One of my favorite fighters when he was a lightweight a monster that kept on fighting lots of heart.
Pernell Whitaker You had to admire him as a fighter to win in all those weight classes took all his skills. He fought all the good fighters right out of the gate.
Willie Pep Will of the wisp, he was one of the greatest featherweights of all time. Had over 300 fights. This was during a time when there were lots of good fighters. He didn’t have the physical ability to hit hard but he embraced a technique that worked for him. There are legendary stories about him having won a round without throwing a punch. Having said all that………
Sandy Saddler doesn’t get enough credit. He beat Willie in like three out of four fights by knockouts. He was one freak’ in featherweight, he was big and strong and could punch like a mule. A lot of times when we talk about great featherweights we forget about Sandy Saddler.
Sugar Ray Robinson He fought all the best. You have to love all the fighters from that era. Not like today where you can pick and choose. Robinson was around with all those great fighters, and to beat a guy like Jake LaMotta five out of six shows a lot about the guy. Great puncher, great hand speed, he was a pioneer. If there was any shortcoming about the great Sugar Ray Robinson it was that he was a little too easy to hit but he probably had the greatest chin ever.
Joe Louis A textbook fighter who also fought during a tough time for blacks he held the championship over ten years. Maybe he fought a little too long a lot of people only remember the Marciano fight but that was not Joe during his prime when it would have been a much better fight.
Muhammad Ail I say this even though there are other heavyweights of his era that were great also. I say this because of what he meant to the sport socially, athletically, his accomplishments both inside and outside the ring. He never failed to seize the moment.
DT Teddy, thank you very much for this interview. By the way, I am sure your humanitarian work through the Dr. Teddy Atlas foundation gives you more pleasure than anything accomplished in the ring?
TA That’s for sure. We keep fighting the good fight. I appreciate all the notes and letters I receive through the foundation. I hope you don’t take it personally what I said about writers during the beginning of this interview.
DT No problem, I’m an amateur but I know it. Is there anything I help you with other than a monetary donation to your foundation? (***See Website: http://www.dratlasfoundation.com/)
TA Yes, you could do an article on your website about the Foundation.
DT Consider it done. Can I call you again if I have more questions?
TA Of course, David anytime, you have my number.
Readers: Wow, Teddy sure knows boxing. Thank you for reading both parts of this interview. Let me know who should be my next interview. God Bless.
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