Thursday, September 24, 2009
Teddy Atlas, boxing trainer, fight commentator, and humanitarian, visits Doghouse Boxing for another round of Questions and Answers.
David Tyler – Hi Teddy, thanks for the call. You must be the busiest man on earth?
Teddy Atlas – Yeah Dave, sometimes I feel that way.
DT – Let’s start with Floyd Mayweather’s impressive victory over Juan Manuel Marquez.
TA – Not a complete surprise. Of course the question going in was how would Mayweather deal with the long layoff, how would that affect him and the other question how would the smaller Marquez deal with a bigger man, who was not only bigger, but one of the rarities in this sport or any sport is what took place there in that fight with that match-up. You had a smaller guy moving up in weight and the advantages that he usually enjoys and the advantages that they usually enjoy he didn’t enjoy. Because the fighters that have moved up like Mickey Ward, Pernell Whitaker, Roberto Duran, Mickey Walker, or the great Sam Langford, these guys had superior hand speed and solid chins. The smaller guys moving up were smarter, they were faster; they were slicker, than the big men they fought. So when the smaller man who enjoyed these advantages moved up they had all the advantages even though they were smaller. You had Marquez the smaller guy who moves up in weight to face the bigger Mayweather but Mayweather was faster. You could argue that Mayweather was smarter. Mayweather was more muscled. So one of the paradoxes in this fight and the reason I said we couldn’t be shocked with the outcome was that Mayweather had all those advantages as well as being the bigger guy. Again, the question of how would Marquez deal with that step up in weight class and how would Mayweather be affected by the time off because of the pace of the fight, because of the ability of Mayweather to control range, and I don’t know if many people realize how well he controls range. He draws a line in the sand so to speak but in the canvas. He controlled the business of where things started and where things ended. When you can do that you can control pace and you can control the rest of the bout. Because of that he controlled when something could be thrown, when something could not be thrown. Because of all this control the many months layoff never came into play. He could go to a place where maybe he had endurance because of the rest but he did such a great job of controlling range, controlling distance, which helps him control all the other elements of the fight. All the advantages of Marquez being shorter and moving up in weight never showed up.
DT – Did this fight change your opinion of the upcoming Manny Pacquiao/ Miguel Cotto bout?
TA – No, because Cotto is a smaller fighter who is not as good defensively as Mayweather. I don’t know how much patience had to do with it, but I do know one thing, Mayweather’s patience kept Marquez from getting back into the fight, it never allowed Marquez any hope, never allowed him any place to try and get a foothold because he was climbing a hill and he knew he was climbing that hill. He was never given a place to put his hands on where he could make that climb. That was because of the defense of Mayweather who just never allowed him to get back into the fight. You know Cotto is a different fighter; he is not as good defensively, not as quick. But he is a good body puncher which I think that he will have to bring to the plate to have a chance, so to speak, when he fights Pacquiao trying to take away some of his speed advantage. He doesn’t have the advantages of a bigger man; he is a bigger man in a smaller man’s body. Unlike the fight where Mayweather had such big advantages against a smaller man, that’s not going to be the case with Cotto. The smaller man Pacquiao will have all those advantages we were talking about earlier. Pacquiao will also have the advantage of being very confident where Coto’s confidence has been badly shaken since the Margarito fight.
DT – So, you’re still predicting Pacquiao in an early round kayo?
TA – I don’t know if it will be the early rounds but I think Pacquiao will win the early rounds and depending on how Cotto handles himself, can he make the necessary adjustments. If he doesn’t like he did in the Clottey fight, he will not make it to the late rounds but maybe Cotto needed that Clottey fight in order purge himself of those moments in a fight where he loses focus. Maybe he has learned more about himself because of the Clottey fight. Maybe he needed those moments to sort of suffer a little bit. Maybe the Clottey and Margarito fights toughen him up and we will see a classic fight. I’m not so sure we will but if he is back psychologically and mentally then maybe we will get the fight everyone wants to see.
DT – Teddy, Pacquiao has just started training in the Philippines and Cotto has been training hard for over a month. Will the short training time hurt Pacquiao’s chances in this fight?
TA – Well, you never know, but then again Pacquiao did not fight that long ago and the guy keeps himself in shape. His normal weight is around 145 or so and that relieves him of the burden of having to lose weight quickly. There’s not that much difference in two months training as opposed to three months of training for a guy like Pacquiao. It’s still early and it will not take Pacquiao that long to get back in shape to go the distance if he has to in this fight. You know, Pacquiao is a big star in the Philippines and he makes movies, does endorsements, but he has always done this and it doesn’t appear to have affected him mentally or psychologically in his preparation for a fight.
DT – Now that Mayweather has shown that the long layoff seems to have no affect on his skill level how would Manny Pacquiao matchup against him?
TA – Interesting matchup, Pacquiao is able to bring things in a better way than Marquez was able to bring. Pacquiao is a lot faster than Marquez and will probably match Mayweather with speed. He is obviously very confident right now and I think the stage will be different than that for Marquez. Pacquiao is busier than Marquez and does a lot more than just put his hands together. I just think that Pacquiao does more things than Marquez does as a smaller guy going up in weight. Pacquiao will present a speed advantage which Mayweather will not have as he did against Marquez. I think a lot will have to do with how he gets through the Cotto fight, if he gets through the Cotto well, then I think all systems will be going perfect and I think all systems must be working perfect for him to go into the biggest fight of his life against Mayweather.
DT – Teddy, Mayweather looked almost unbeatable to me and I would point to his superb defensive skills as his top asset. What kind of fighter can beat him?
TA – Well, Marquez for all his attributes doesn’t have good defensive skills. Somewhere along the line a fighter with these skills, and also blessed with good body punching skills to cause Mayweather to lower his hands, will present problems. You need that kind of thinking and Pacquiao may have these skills. Also Mayweather is a bit of a magician in there, a bit of a trickster, a little like David Copperfield. When he works the magic tricks he diverts you attention everywhere and keeps you from looking at the spectacle. Mayweather keeps you looking at his head movements and diverts your attention from the body. If Pacquiao looks at the bottom half or the body of Mayweather and starts unloading he will begin to control the action. Pacquiao brings great speed and if used in the proper way he will be successful. I’m sure Freddie Roach will have him prepared because he has studied many of Mayweather’s fights as he prepared Oscar De La Hoya for his bout with Mayweather.
DT- I have interviewed Freddie Roach many times and he seems extremely confident that Pacquiao will destroy Mayweather.
TA – David, again, I am hesitant to make a prediction until he gets past Cotto. However, if he looks good and gets past Cotto with relative ease, then the fight with Mayweather will be very physical, much more physical than the Mayweather and Marquez fight turned out to be.
DT – Teddy I kept a promise to you and wrote an article for our doghouseboxing.com website about your foundation started in the name of your Father, Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation. I ask our readers to simply mail one dollar to the foundation. Yesterday I ask your Director, Kathy Zito, if anyone had sent a dollar. NOT ONE SINGLE DOLLAR WAS SENT BY OUR READERS. That made me extremely sad for several days. Why?
TA – David, I can’t tell you why, so all I talk about is people like you who do contribute and I feel good about that and I’m satisfied with that and I feel good about that. I understand that some people don’t understand the importance of giving something or helping others and have trouble with that maybe these people simply don’t want to deal with the issues of helping those less fortunate because it takes them to a place that’ out of their comfort zone and that’s okay. I am not disheartened with the ones that don’t come through I am very pleased and happy with those that do come through and contribute their time, efforts, and money to help those less fortunate. Those that don’t contribute have not been to a time or place where they have experienced the need of help from others. They haven’t seen the good that their help can be for others who would not be able to survive without help. These are life changing experiences and maybe some people have to go through these type experiences and then they start to help others and understand the importance of helping in a spiritual sense. I am very happy with those that do contribute and want them to understand how important even the smallest contribution can provide a way and means for those less fortunate.
DT – Teddy, my late Mother was a person much like your Father, who went out of her way to help others less fortunate. She contributed money, volunteered her help, joined support groups, and was very active in Church affairs. I never appreciated her efforts for others when I was young. Almost 11 years ago she died from breast cancer. I made her the promise that I would try to live my life more like she lived hers and help others. It is impossible to describe the feeling of helping others. The spiritual and psychological benefits are enormous. The very human feelings of self-worth, confidence, self-esteem, all benefit from these actions of helping others.
TA – That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You have been to that time and place where you understand why you must, why you need, to help others.
DT – Teddy Atlas, thank you for your time. The previous two part interview was a great success. You views about our sport are somewhat controversial but that’s okay, don’t change. Boxing needs more people like you. As for your humanitarian efforts, may God continue to heap his blessings on people just like you!
TA – Thank you David. That really means a lot to me. Let’s stay in touch.