By Johnny Walker
Last week on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, Teddy Atlas’s unconcealed bias against the Klitschko brothers, absolute rulers of boxing’s heavyweight division, reached new rhetorical heights.
You can always count on Teddy Atlas to denigrate any achievements that The Ring magazine recognized world champion Wladimir and his brother, the equally dominant WBC champion Vitali, attain. When Atlas starts a sentence, as he did last Friday night, with “I don’t want to take anything away from Klitschko,” you know he’s about to do exactly that.
Atlas has spoiled a few Klitschko fights with his biased yammering, one particularly egregious example being his biased to the point of ridiculousness call of Vitali’s win over Juan Carlos Gomez.
Atlas reached new levels of hypocrisy this week, however. Explaining to Brian Kenny what happened to David Haye against Klitschko in his wide UD loss last weekend, Atlas’s analysis can be summed up thusly:
–Wladimir Klitschko’s opponents have the physical skills but not the right attitude to beat him.
–Klitschko has myriad vulnerabilities that are just aching to be exploited by the right fighter.
–If someone would just summon the guts to charge at Klitschko and throw punches, the champ would fall.
That’s pretty much it. Atlas even laughably suggested later in the broadcast to his sycophantic sidekick Joe Tessitore (who dutifully described Klitschko vs Haye as “horrific” – lay it on a bit thicker, Joe) that should the two minimally talented club fighters in the ESPN main event, neither of whom had apparently ever heard of defense, magically become heavyweights, they would surely lay Wladimir out cold.
They had the right “attitude,” see. Blood and guts. Real “American” stuff.
Who needs those?
Listening to Atlas during this broadcast, it became apparent why his current (though maybe not for long) fighter Alexander Povetkin’s career has degenerated rapidly since Atlas took control of it. The man is delusional and can’t see past his own hatred of certain fighters, though exactly why he hates the Klitschkos so much is open to speculation.
Atlas exposed his own reflexive hypocrisy during the same broadcast when he tried to explain why he pulled Povetkin, now due to fight Ruslan Chagaev later this summer, out of a huge payday against Wladimir Klitschko last year.
“I didn’t think he was ready for what Klitschko brings to the table,” said Atlas.
Not ready? I thought Wlad was easy to beat and had many “vulnerabilities?” Surely an Olympic champ like Povetkin, trained by the great Teddy Atlas, could do the job.
Which only goes to show that Atlas doesn’t even believe his own line of baloney when it comes to the Klitschko brothers. To suggest that someone like Ruslan Chagaev, who had the guts to fight on the inside against the (at the time) unbeaten Russian giant Nikolai Valuev, doesn’t have the right mentality to fight Wladimir Klitschko, is an insult to both Chagaev and to Klitschko.
The truth is that for the last seven years, Wlad’s opponents have tried a variety of strategies against him, but all were foiled by a superior boxer.
And that truth is something that drives Teddy Atlas crazy.
And the more I listen to Atlas lately, it seems that is a very short drive indeed.
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