April 8, 2016 - 10:43 pm
Bob Arum is the man to solve this dispute, the person who can succinctly evaluate each side and determine the worth of both, who can maneuver his way through all the manure and come out with an unpolluted view.
If the Top Rank chairman wants a psychologist for a boxing trainer, he would take Teddy Atlas. If he wants a teacher, he would choose Freddie Roach.
Either way, is a promotion ever helped when some of the biggest headlines over a third installment of Manny Pacquiao engaging Timothy Bradley are made by those in the corner and not the ring?
“If (trainers) are fighting each other with words over boxing, it helps,” Arum said. “If they’re fighting over (bleep), then no, it doesn’t.”
For the past few months, it seems to have been a lot of the (bleep) stuff.
But as Saturday’s welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden has drawn closer, those who will shout instructions instead of throwing jabs have made things more and more about the forthcoming action, more about the fight than any real and yet at times manufactured feud between themselves.
“This should be only about the fighters,” Atlas said. “Freddie doesn’t influence my life. My children do. My family does. Friends that I choose to be around do. My fighter does. Those are my responsibilities, not Freddie.
“Shame on me if I put weight and thought or any kind of concern towards that. What kind of person would I be? There are more important people, and he shouldn’t be concerned about me, either.”
Some of it is ancient history, dating to when Roach was hired to replace Atlas as trainer to heavyweight Michael Moorer and Atlas didn’t like it, enough to break the nose of Moorer’s manager, John Davimos, and then stand across from Roach.
“I told Teddy, ‘I’m not John Davimos,’” Roach said, “and he walked away.”
Some of it is recent history. Atlas is working his second fight for Bradley, the first ending in a technical knockout of an unimpressive and notably out of shape Brandon Rios in November. During it, Atlas gave Bradley an emotional speech about being ready for fire, and that they were firemen and heat didn’t bother them, and that flames don’t intimidate them and they would extinguish them.
You can imagine the fun Roach had with that soundbite.
“I think Bradley gets along with (Atlas) and believes in him, and it seems positive,” Roach said. “I think Teddy will help him a little. I hope he makes him a more aggressive fighter. That would definitely help us. I’m not giving Teddy any credit for the Rios win. Let’s face it, Rios was fat. I could have looked good against Rios that night.
“Teddy has a lot of good stories, and the fans seem to like that. Maybe it’s good for the fight and will sell some tickets, but stories won’t win it.”
The Roach-Atlas squabble certainly hasn’t hurt a promotion that unquestionably lacks the traditional buzz of anything involving Pacquiao. We’ve seen this matchup twice, and Pacquiao won both fights, despite the brain cramps of judges who foolishly awarded Bradley a split-decision victory in the first one.
It didn’t help Pacquiao’s popularity with fans (especially those who bet large amounts of money on him) when he disclosed a pre-existing shoulder injury after losing a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year, or that when he said in February his belief that those in same-sex relationships are “worse than animals.”
And you wonder why ticket sales might be lagging for Saturday.
The undercard news conference on Thursday was interesting if you like bash sessions on Donald Trump and immigration, which actually would have played better had Floyd Mayweather Sr. offered a poem on the matter. At one point, Trump Bashing moved into discussion about the Armenian genocide, and then things got really confusing.
The main event needs some of that juice, however, amazing when you consider it could be Pacquiao’s final fight, given he is 37 and has said he will focus solely on his political career in the Philippines after Saturday’s fight.
Maybe, then, it’s best we had the Roach and Atlas back and forth as a lead-up.
“I suppose talking about trainers is better than talking about 1,700 other extraneous issues, which I’m as guilty of as much as anybody,” Arum said. “If I have a fighter who is under-performing and needs someone to push him to 100 percent psychologically, I want Teddy. If I have a fighter who really needs the technical side of things, I want Freddie, who was a much better fighter than Teddy. Freddie is a better teacher, in my opinion, but Freddie is not a mind guy.
“At least with Atlas, Bradley will have a game plan this time against Manny, which he didn’t before in either fight. Whether that’s enough to defeat Pacquiao, who the (bleep) knows?”
That’s what this fight needs.
More of the (bleep) stuff.
Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney