Alexander Povetkin and Teddy Atlas appear headed for a split. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Michael Woods of ESPN New York reports that Teddy Atlas is keeping his word on his ESPN commitments, and won't be training Alexander Povetkin for Povetkin's February 25 fight in Germany against Marco Huck. Atlas also is putting the blame directly on Povetkin, rather than his handlers, including outspoken manager Vladimir Hrunov, who recently tried to depict Atlas as unreasonable.
"Our agreement from the beginning has been that I would go to Russia to train Sasha [Povetkin] when 'Friday Night Fights' was off season, and he would come to the United States to train when I was committed to being here for my ESPN duties. ... I'm being told he doesn't want to come to the U.S. I had expected him to live up to his obligation and am very disappointed in Sasha."
Atlas is wise to speak up here, and frankly, wise to put the blame on the fighter. If that's their deal, then Povetkin deserves the blame for Atlas not being in his corner.
Atlas has been very clear in public forums about feeling that the ESPN analyst job is his main job now, saying that puts food on the table, and that his training commitments are secondary -- kind of a "take it or leave it" scenario.
So Povetkin is apparently choosing to leave it. As right as Atlas seems to be here, I doubt this amounts to much. Atlas hadn't improved Povetkin any during their time together, which isn't a knock on Atlas. There isn't much improvement to get out of a long-time amateur star in his early 30s. Povetkin was what he is when he was 27 or 28 years old. There's nothing changing about his approach. He doesn't really need Atlas, I don't believe, and Atlas doesn't need him, either.
If this is a complete split, and not just for this fight, it might be for the best. Atlas has a full-time job eight months out of the year and Povetkin clearly doesn't want to train in the States. Russian trainer Alexander Zimin, who worked with Nikolai Valuev and also some other, real fighters, will take over, at last report, and has been training Povetkin for the Huck fight.