Michael Woods of ESPN New York spoke with trainer and ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas following today's Povetkin vs Huck fight, featuring, of course, Atlas' most recent fighter, Alexander Povetkin, who split with the trainer for this bout after not wanting to come to the United States to train under Atlas.
Povetkin wound up winning a tight, debated decision over Huck today, and Atlas had a pretty short, pretty blunt assessment of his former charge's performance. I'm going to blockquote this for dramatic effect:
"He looked horrible."
Woods and others have offered the opinion that Povetkin looked like he needed Atlas today. With all due respect to them, and all due respect to Teddy Atlas, I don't buy it.
When Teddy Atlas was training Povetkin, did he actually look any better than he did today? I argue he did not. Povetkin had issues today for sure, but they came to light because he was in against a young, strong, in-prime guy who came to fight.
Under Atlas, Povetkin did not face any young, strong, in-prime guys who came to fight. He fought Ruslan Chagaev, who was coming off of very underwhelming performances against Kali Meehan and Travis Walker, old man Cedric Boswell, and a bunch of club fighters.
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So what did Atlas really do for Povetkin? What can we say he actually added to his arsenal?
If you could transport today's Alexander Povetkin into any of the fights where Atlas trained the Russian, I wager none of the results would have been any different at all. Today was about Povetkin actually being challenged by a good opponent, for the first time since his win over Eddie Chambers in January 2008. We're talking about four years of easy fights that Povetkin has had between tough outings.
On the Epix broadcast, Dan Rafael offered the theory that Povetkin benefits greatly from Atlas yelling at him in the corner, a few rounds after suggesting that Alexander Zimin could be more effective because unlike Atlas, he speaks Russian and doesn't need a translator. It's a nice idea, that Atlas is The Great Motivator who got something extra out of Povetkin, but again, I don't buy it.
Povetkin doesn't need Teddy Atlas, and I don't mean that as disrespect to Atlas. Povetkin needs lowered expectations and a realistic assessment of who he really is as a 32-year-old fighter. He's a finished product, including the flaws, and was before Atlas got to him and scaled back his competition again.