NEW YORK – Live world championship boxing returns to EPIX when undefeated 2004 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist ALEXANDER POVETKIN (21-0, 15 KOs), of Russia, and former World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight champion RUSLAN CHAGAEV (27-1-1, 17 KOs), a native of Ukraine who fights out of Berlin, Germany, square-off for the vacant WBA heavyweight title, This Saturday! August 27th. Presented by Sauerland Event, the live broadcast will emanate from Erfurt, Germany.
The battle between the two highest world-rated heavyweight contenders will be televised live in the U.S. exclusively on EPIX, the multiplatform premium entertainment service. EpixHD.com will stream the fight live as part of a free two-week trial offer. The live broadcast and the live stream on EPIX and EpixHD.com, respectively, will begin with the main event at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT.
Following the Povetkin-Chagaev WBA heavyweight championship, the broadcast and live stream will continue with undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) and WBA Intercontinental heavyweight champion ROBERT HELENIUS (15-0, 10 KOs), a native of Finland who fights out of Berlin, Germany, defending his regional titles against former WBO heavyweight champion SIARHEI LIAKHOVICH (25-3, 16 KOs), a native of Belarus, fights out of Phoenix, Ariz
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of both fights on a jumbotron in Times Square (Broadway between 44th and 45th Sts.), beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
Mark Greenberg: EPIX is excited for this fight for a variety of reasons. This is the fourth boxing match that we will have done since March. We did a fight in March, May and June. We entered this foray several months ago. We found it to be enormously successful for us in terms of our subscribers and viewership, as well as gaining a lot of attention for the network. Obviously, I’ve been involved with boxing for a long time in a previous part of my career. We’re excited to be doing this fight. We think it’s a great match up. We think these are the kinds of fights that need to be shown in the United States to you know as boxing has become more global, we need to be able to find another entrée to bring these you know great matches. We think that the Povetkin/Chagaev fight will be a really good heavyweight championship fight. So we’re excited to do it.
EPIX chose to put this on live, which is what we did on our previous fights we televised from Europe because we think fans want to see it immediately and for sporting events, (holding of) things for three or four or five hours or making the fight to be forced to a later hour we don’t think is necessarily good for the fighters or good for the fight or good for fans. So we’re excited to take this approach. We’re thrilled to be able to put it on our Website, EpixHD.com, where we will be streaming it. Our first fight had an enormous amount of activity. We’ve had great activity in Time Square and we will be on the big Jumbotron at Time Square between 44th and 45th Street and equally important, it will be on the network live at 5 pm East Coast time and then we will be rebroadcasting that at 10 p.m. East Coast time as a replay for those fans that may have missed it.
We’re thrilled that our announce team, Lennox Lewis will be back along with Dan Rafael and the blow by blow for the first time will be Mike Crispino, which we think will be a good addition to the team. We’re looking forward to this. Our fight in conjunction with our partnership with MSG Network as we you know do these things from the studio here in New York. More importantly, we’re excited for the fight. We think it’s a good card. We have two fights on for the night and we think it’s going to be a great night for boxing and a place for fans to really enjoy the evening. So we’re excited for this to be happening.
Teddy Atlas: It’s been a little while since I’ve been in the corner for a title fight. I kind of walked away some years ago from actively training regularly anyway on a regular basis, training fighters, gave that up for the ESPN microphone. When people ask me the difference, the main difference is nobody can talk back to me on the microphone. I kind of like that. And you know have to worry about who wins. Now, I’m in a position where, unfortunately, I do have to worry about who wins and be very much involved in that.
Training camp was – I think we were effective. We were productive in camp. It was over in (Czechov), Russia, which is about an hour and a half outside Moscow. It was a short camp, much shorter than I’ve ever experienced before for a fight of this magnitude and not what I wanted, to be quite frank. I wanted a longer camp, but I had a commitment to ESPN. Obviously it was during the ESPN season. I do ‘Friday Night Fights’, as you mentioned and the understanding was that if the fight took place during the ESPN season that Povetkin and his guys would come over to me to the U.S., which they’ve done before. This time, for some reason, they did not come over and that caused a predicament. That caused a problem because I could not come over to Russia to train him, as they wanted me to because of what I just said, I had a commitment to ESPN. I could not lose eight – miss eight or seven weeks of ESPN ‘Friday Night Fights’.
And so actually I had stepped away from it and said that I wouldn’t be able to train him. What happened was it got to be about three weeks before the fight and the fighter himself [Povetkin] and the people asked me to come over and I found out that they had made no other arrangements and the fighter was waiting for me and I had a decision to make, more from a personal standpoint, I guess a moral standpoint where I didn’t – you know, do I stay away from it? Because we didn’t have the situation that was agreed to,. my brain told me that a little bit, but my heart told me, do I want to be thinking about the fighter being left alone? And I didn’t want to be thinking about that.
So I got on a plane, I went to (Czechov) about three weeks and two days before the fight and as I said, we had a very condensed training camp, not the amount of sparring that we would normally want to have, especially southpaw sparring because we are fighting a southpaw. So that puts another little twist into it. But I organized things the best I could from a mental standpoint, trying to get his [Povetkin] mind right in the time that was allowed and trying to get the – obviously the game plan, the strategy in place. I think we’ve done a good job getting the strategy in place. We understand what will work against Chagaev and what to be concerned about with Chagaev. My biggest concern was having not the full amount of time for physical training, that’s my biggest concern that we didn’t have that and the full amount of time in sparring.
But again, with the time we had, I saw progress. I tried to – sometimes I felt like a pilot in a plane that knew he didn’t have enough gas to get to where he was going so he started ejecting stuff out of the damn plane. I felt like I was throwing chairs and things we didn’t need out of the plane to make the flight lighter. I mean there were days I had to make choices, no bag work today, I couldn’t do this work today, but I had to concentrate on more sparring than I might have done at that point in training. So I had to make some adjustments, as I said, but we made those adjustments.
I’ve gotten the best results I could get under those conditions and I think as far as the strategy, as I was touching on before, we know that we can – there are certain things – he’s [Chagaev] very reliable. He’s – his greatest talent, his greatest overall ability is not his left or right hand or his power or his you know his speed, anything like that, I think it’s his behavior, his ability to be consistent, to behave like a champion. This is a former world champ, he knows what it takes. He also knows what it is not to be champ, which can be very powerful for him and he’s a guy that is dependable and that’s a quality, that’s the – nowadays people forget as much as speed and power that that’s a great attribute and maybe your best quality that you can have and your best talent that you can have is that you’re dependable.
He knows how to behave all night long. He’s got a great chin. He likes to be aggressive. He likes to come forward. He’s a southpaw, so that gives you some other problems that he’s coming from a different direction. But he’s predictable, he’s always in front of you, you know where to – where the attack is coming from and from an offensive standpoint, you have to worry about his left hand, that’s the power hand for a southpaw. That’s coming from the back where he can turn into it and that’s the weapon that you have to be concerned about. If you can’t pull straight back on it, you can’t let him set you up with the jab with it. You have to be ready to slip it and you have to be ready to counter it and you have to move your body to the left which is good against a south paw, away from that power hand, away from that left hand.
And I think he’s susceptible to uppercuts, especially on the inside. He likes to throw the uppercut. Like I said, he’s heavy with the left hand, he likes to use that as his main weapon. He will push his jab sometimes. I think he’ll give his opportunities to counter over that jab a little bit. We’re going to look for that, that’s been something that I’ve worked on very much to see if we can counter over that slow jab when we see it’s slow to see if we could exploit him a little on the inside with the uppercut. And I think there might be opportunities maybe to turn the tables on him; he’s going to look for the left hand, maybe if we know he’s looking for the left hand, you know we can expect it, we can slip it, we can counter with the right hand, maybe we can even time it and time it with the right hand a little bit.
Those – again, those are all of the things that we’ve been working on and the most important thing is that my guy can physically and mentally execute that plan.
Q: Teddy, I wanted to ask about Povetkin. You mentioned that he has the physical and the mental capabilities to carry out that game plan. In the past, you’ve worked with fighters whom you’ve had to change either in the ring or have had to work with them to change, as you put it, their behavior in the ring. What skills does Povetkin bring to the table that you like? And is there anything that you have to change in this abbreviated training camp so far?
Teddy Atlas: Well, I mean over the last two years, I’ve been working with him. It’s been a work in progress and I’ve been working on just making him a more complete fighter, hopefully, a better fighter. Just improving areas. That obviously is my judgment to figure out needs to be improved. So in one way, it’s not just a specific adjustments for this fight, it’s how much he’s gotten together the things that we’ve been working on overall for two years, that he’s the best he can be in the way that he needs to be and he’s as confident as he needs to be with the identity that we’ve kind of put forth to him.
One of my concerns with him was he was a guy who just threw punches. He didn’t always think about when and where, but he was just throwing. And I wanted him to think about when and where and throw them when it made most sense and throw the right punches and not give up defense when you’re going into an offensive mode. I thought that would be important for him as he stepped up the boxing ladder. It’s going to be important for him now because he’s stepped up the boxing ladder as high as you can get. He’s fighting for the title. So I think it’s really a lot of it has to do with how much he’s come together over the two years and the things we’ve been working on and how comfortable he is, how sure he is of those things that hopefully they’ve made him a better fighter and I think they have. But now he’s going to be able to – he’s going to have to be able to carry those things out you know obviously on the 27th.
Q: And just to follow up, you’ve always made apt comparisons between fighters. So for fans in North America that haven’t seen Povetkin, is there a fighter that resembles him that maybe fans would know that you think Povetkin is a lot like? Or is he just unique in his own way?
Teddy Atlas: Well, every fighter has their own uniqueness. I mean everybody has their own identity. I think the thing with Povetkin is that as I use the word a work in progress for two years, we’ve been trying to – you just touched on it, we’ve been trying to find what his identity is. You know it’s always attached to your temperament. You can’t just make a guy into what you want to make him if that’s not fully a part of his mental realm, his temperament, his mental and emotional beliefs. And he’s a thoughtful kid, he’s a kid who is intelligent and sometimes I notice that he might think too much, that he’s waiting and he’s waiting for the perfect shot too much. I want guys to be smart, but at the same time, I don’t want them standing in front of the guy waiting too much, giving up you know the ground that you can give up when you’re standing in front of a guy and you can get beat to the punch, as simple as that.
So it’s a matter of getting confidence and a matter of being active. I didn’t think he was always active enough. When I took him over, he had 17 fights and he just hadn’t been fighting that often. I think the more often you fight, the more sure you become of yourself. The better you become at something. No matter what it is that you happen to be doing, you get better at it when you do it more often. When you get into that realm that you have to live in that you have to obviously perform in – the more often you’re in it, the more comfortable you become in that place. But I think for the people out there watching him, his strengths from a physical standpoint is he’s – his hands are deceptively fast. He’s got much better hand speed than he might have you know to the casual eye. You look at him, you don’t think of him as a fast guy. He’s got good hand speed. He’s got a good jab. I’d like him to use it more. I guess a lot of trainers probably say that about their fighters, but I definitely would like to see him use – he’s a pretty good body puncher.
I think the most important thing is what he’s not. I think a lot of guys, especially guys that were attached to him from a personal standpoint in Russia and there’s an attachment culturally – obviously there’s an attachment as far as just being from the same country and the nationalistic pride. They’ve wanted him to be this Russian Tyson. Here people always say, “Well, how does he compare to Tyson?” Well, they do the same thing for a living, that’s about it. You know he’s not a Tyson, he’s not a seek and destroy guy. He’s a guy that tries to be smart. He’s a guy that you know as I said will think about things, you don’t want him to think too long and he’s not a guy that’s that level of a puncher. He’s a good puncher, but not where he’s explosive to the degree that Tyson was in that way and I think he’s a guy that we’ve improved his defense hopefully where he can depend on defense to create offense sometimes instead of just depending on offense to create offense and not sometimes thinking about the responsibility of defense.
I think that the public . . . hopefully they’re going to see a guy that can control the range, control distance and most importantly, a guy that can be consistent through the night
Q: I had a couple of questions. One is how did you find Alexander when you finally got to him this camp? You said you only had a few weeks to work with him. What kind of shape did you find him in? And there’s been some criticism that maybe you’re bringing him along too slowly. Can you answer those questions
Teddy Atlas: Yes. Whether the people like the way I answer it or not, I’ll answer it. As far as the first question, which I’m sure many people won’t like the answer, I didn’t find him in top shape. I didn’t find him in the shape that his people were telling me he was going to be in. You know maybe they just didn’t understand from a standpoint that I look at it that I judge such things, they didn’t understand it at that level that what they thought was conditioned and what I thought was you know conditioned to get ready for a fight with three weeks to go.
He didn’t have the boxing condition. He didn’t have the sparring. I mean that’s the most important. He had been doing some running and some strength training, but – and his body looked OK - but when I got him in the ring to spar, you know his cardiovascular wasn’t there because he hadn’t had time with the boxing training. So we had a lot of catching up to do and when you have that to do, you know if you’re in this business and you hopefully understand something about it, you can’t just throw everything against the wall and say, “OK. Let’s see what sticks and let’s use every day we got.” You can’t do that, you have to be responsible and there’s a balance to it. And you push, but at the same time, you have to realize that you can’t push too much because you’ll go right off of the cliff.
And so I had a predicament there, yes, I had a certain amount of days, but I couldn’t use everyday. I had to use some days for rest and like I said before, I felt like a guy in a plane flying somewhere and I knew that I didn’t have a full tank, so I had to think about you know how fast I was going, what my route was going to be, what – where the mountains were and when I didn’t have to go up high, I wouldn’t go high and what I had to get rid of. And there were certain things we had to get rid of, certain you know things that would have been in training normally that we didn’t have time and we had to pick priorities.
As far as your other question, yes, I didn’t want him to fight Klitschko, if that’s what they’re alluding to bringing him along slow. I didn’t think that a year and a half ago, whatever that time was, that I (inaudible) you know like anybody. I mean my responsibilities are to the fighter and it’s my decision to think of what’s right for the fighter. I just didn’t think at that time he was ready for a guy that big with over 50 fights. My guy had 17, 18 fights at the time and he hadn’t been real active and hadn’t been in too many deep waters yet and to fight Klitschko at that time, that’s the only time that I can remember being careful with him, I just didn’t think from the physicality of the size of Klitschko, the experience of Klitschko, the lack of experience of my guy at that point, I didn’t think it was the right time. I mean it would have been a better payday for me. I could have just said, “Yes” to it, you know I was going to make about $200,000, but I wasn’t going to base it on that. I was going to base it on what I thought was right for the fighter and what I thought was right was let him get more experience.
And as far as being careful, let him get experience with the right guys. You know we shouldn’t be getting experience with Godzilla, but we can be getting experience with decent guys, solid enough guys, guys that can improve us, guys that can give us a chance to progress and get experience and get (inaudible) and get more consistent with the things we’re trying to work on. And obviously more confident. A bit more seasoning. I want him to fight more often. I tell you I wasn’t being careful as far as and I’ll take criticism as well as anyone, I really will and that’s no problem, bring it on. But I wasn’t – but they should understand what was and wasn’t. They should at least understand what I was thinking. I wasn’t being careful where I didn’t want him to fight, I wanted him to fight, I wanted him to fight guys that made sense that would extend him, that would improve him, that would challenge him at the right degrees, each time a little bit more.
But what I didn’t want to do was just sit around and be careful and not fight, I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to fight more often. And we had trouble sometimes getting that done. But last fight he hurt his hand which he can’t do anything about that and then this fight came up and here we are. But I just thought that at the time of the Klitschko fight, understanding boxing a little bit, I know the landscape of boxing changes and I know how erratic it can be. I just know how fickle it can be. And I know that it can change at a moment and I just knew that if we waited, something else would come along that would be maybe make more sense than Klitschko at the time and that something else that did come along, as it turned out, is this and I think this fight from a match up of style, experience and physicality makes more sense for him even thought we have our difficulties and we have a tough guy in front of us, no doubt about it, it just makes more sense than Klitschko did at the time.
Q: Do you feel comfortable right now that your guy is ready – given the short camp?
Teddy Atlas: No. Look, either I’m going to keep my damn mouth shut and say nothing, which I probably should do sometimes, or I’m going to tell the truth. So since I did tell EPIX I would talk to you guys when they asked me if I would, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m going to tell you that I’d feel more comfortable if I had more time. Do I feel we’ve done the best that we could do in these conditions, in these circumstances? Yes, I do. That I think we did a pretty good job and I think my fighter did a good job, the best we could. But would I feel – as I said, would I feel better if I had a full eight week camp, which is what I usually would like to have? Yes, I’d feel better.
Q: So what I was wondering about when you opened your remarks, when you talked about how you had made your commitment to ‘Friday Night Fights’ and if I remember a couple of weeks before you left ‘Friday Night Fights,’ you said on the air, you talked about how you had made the decision, how you wouldn’t be …
Teddy Atlas: That’s right.
Q: … (inaudible) and so what I’m wondering is, did you get a call directly from Alexander, you know with a translator I suppose or how did that all go down where they called you to basically say, you know, ask you once again, would you come to Russia? And why didn’t they come to Jersey to train with you as they have done for the past several fights?
Teddy Atlas: I’ll answer the last part first. As far as why they didn’t, I’m not sure.
Q: Did you ever ask?
Teddy Atlas: No, I didn’t – I told them to get their ass over here [U.S.]. I was more busy saying that than asking them why the hell they – at that point, it was – it didn’t matter to me why they didn’t want to be – or it mattered to me that they wanted there. I mean I did ask, “Why aren’t you keeping your commitment?” I did say that. “You had a commitment to come over here. We agreed to it. We even put it in the contract.” Believe it or not. So because I knew that this time would come up possibly when the fight came that there was a chance there would be a conflict with my ESPN duties. So I said, “Why aren’t you keeping you know your commitment?” and they said, “Well, we’d rather train over here.” I said, “Well, I don’t care what you’d rather do, I mean what needs to be done is you need to be over here because I can’t be over there and it’s kind of hard to train with your trainer when he’s thousands of miles away.”
So once we got past that, unfortunately time just trickled and trickled and trickled and trickled away and I made that decision on ESPN, as you said. I said, “I’m not going to be training him” and then they – well, they call me to say that – what really got me was they had a press conference in Germany and they had a press conference – and official press conference for the fight that always takes place at the time that it does and they called me after that and they said that a lot of press asked him where his trainer was and I had already made the announcement on ESPN that I wasn’t going to be there and because of the actions we’ve talked about. And they called me up and said that the press was asking, who is your trainer? Who is your trainer? And that nobody was answering except Povetkin and Povetkin said, “My trainer is only one person, Teddy Atlas.”
And I wasn’t there and all of this stuff and I don’t know what they really told him. But when he said that and he said, “My trainer is Teddy” – I realized they weren’t telling him everything obviously. You didn’t have to be Columbo to figure that out. And you know – and here’s this kid – and I can stand on the righteous side all day and say, “Hey, I got right on my side because we had an agreement, I couldn’t break my commitment, you knew that. You broke the agreement, the hell with you,” and it was over with. And I could stand that way forever – but now, there was another part to it, it was just the plan wasn’t just right or wrong; I thought I was right, but it wasn’t that anymore. It was just a human element of it that here is a fighter, the biggest fight of his life and they didn’t make arrangements to get another trainer and they didn’t say anything to him and here he is telling the press in Germany when they all asked him, they see there’s no trainer there, they’re all asking him you know the only question that comes to mind, “Where’s your trainer – who is your trainer?” and he said, “Teddy Atlas, Teddy Atlas is my trainer.”
And right there when I heard that, it just affected me from just a human standpoint and after that, he had called me. He called me and he called just to say hello, and without an interpreter, and he speaks very few words in English, and he just said, “Teddy, I call to say hello.” And that was it and after that I finally got to the point it was that it was probably past the deadline, obviously, but it was definitely … there couldn’t be any other deadline, couldn’t be any more time. And I just said to hell with it, I’m not going to have this kid even though the situation is what it is and it’s become what it is and it didn’t have to become what it became and it shouldn’t have became what it became and all of that crap. It is what it is. I’m either not or I am and I just said, “I’m going to go over there. I’m not going to have this kid thinking that he was just left alone.’ You know if he didn’t get the full information and he may never get the full information. I’m just not going to have him thinking that.
And I got on a plane, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been. You’re always nervous before a fight because it’s important. It’s important to you, it’s important to the person who is fighting. It’s going to carve out part of their life that’s going to stay with them forever. I’ve never felt this way in my life, getting on a plane for a fight where I had as many worries and doubts and reservations as I had, but I got on a plane and said, “Look, if I’m doing it, I’m doing it for one reason” and I did it for that reason.
Q: One other thing, when you say they didn’t tell him, you know you use they a lot. I’m wondering are you speaking about his promoters, his manager, somebody else…
Teddy Atlas: Look, his promoter’s in Germany – but the people around him are his managers and I just don’t know that he was aware fully, when I say they, I guess probably the people with him that are physically around him. I just don’t know that they wanted to tell him obviously that information and I think that they were probably hoping that something would change. While they were hoping that something would change, the problem was no arrangements were being made you know to deal with the situation at hand.
Q: That’s what I was going to ask you about, Teddy. You have a guy here who is training for a significant fight and you know if you don’t get on the plane, is he still sitting somewhere …
Teddy Atlas: If I don’t get on the plane at that point, at that deadline or past that deadline whatever the hell, you know what? I don’t know. I don’t know. I tell you the truth, I think they were going to do it through a collective effort that the guys just there in gym were just going to – they were going to do it that way and it’s beyond amazing to a certain extent and then it’s frightening to me because I’m in the chair of responsibility now and I have made that choice to be, so at this point, I’m going to do everything I can to represent this – myself and this kid the best I can and you know just – I’ve been to church more than I normally go.
Q: When you finally did get to Russia and you went to the gym and saw him, I mean can you describe? I mean was he surprised to see you? Was he happy to see you?
Teddy Atlas: He was happy to see me, but quite honestly, there wasn’t full disclosure of what the reason for me not being there earlier. He’s a smart kid. He knows I should have been there earlier. But he also knew he was supposed to be in camp with me somewhere and the place was supposed to be the United States. And I don’t know how much he was aware – he always knew. He never liked to come to America. But when I decided to say, “Yes” to them when they asked me to train him and they brought me over to Russia, after I initially said “No” because I didn’t want to deal with boxers anymore and the things that you have to deal with, such as this.
But when I finally did go over and I met the kid and they asked me if I would train him and I finally said, “Yes”, one of the things I understood and recognized was he did not like leaving. He was just a small hometown kid from Russia. He didn’t not like leaving his homeland, his motherland as he says. And but he made it – he understood that he couldn’t train with me if he didn’t and he made a commitment to do that and he even said to me through the interpreter, “I never thought I would leave to train with anybody, never. And I always said I never would, but to train with you, I will.”
And he made that commitment and you know I said, “When you have to come, you come. When I can come, I’ll come.” And which I did, there was a time when I was off the air, back last year during the winter when we were off ESPN, I went over there for five weeks because I said I would do it. So he understood that, but I don’t know if he understood that it was an agreement that to the extent that when it came to this kind of situation, that he had to come over there. And I don’t think they told him that and when I came there, quite honestly, you could see a little attitude where he was confused and probably upset that I wasn’t there earlier -- not understanding why I wasn’t there, why we weren’t together. And that attitude lasted only a few hours because once I watched tape with him, the first thing I did was watch tape of Chagaev, I laid out a fight plan which was a little different from what he had envisioned and when I pointed out some things that I thought we needed to work on and that would work, he, at first, didn’t think they were the things that he had thought about and when I showed them to him, he saw that they were. And he agreed.
And I could see that he felt better. I could just see that he felt like, “OK. Now I got my guy telling me what I need to hear,” and when we got in the gym, you could just see he was glad I was there. But I’m not going to lie, at the initial meeting when we first met, as I said, you could see that – and I could understand it, just like I was upset, but I was upset with knowing full disclosure of everything. I don’t think he had full disclosure of everything.
Q: What kind of raw talent do you see in him potential wise? And how close is he to getting there?
Teddy Atlas: Well, I think that any time the old timers will tell you, “You win the title, you get 30 percent better.” I think he wins a fight like this, it does enormous leaps and bounds for you as far as putting it together, as far as going from potential to recognition of that potential. Of the confidence of just the cement, the glue that puts all the pieces together, you win the title, he will be that much closer to realizing his full potential and on the road to that full potential you know being continually being brought out in front of you, where each fight you I think see improvement, where you’ll start to get the complete picture. You start to get the full job put together.
You see that with fighters. You see them that they have a good amateur career, they get to a certain point professionally and then they win that one fight. That one fight, even if it’s not really the fight that everyone thought it was going to be, but in their mind it’s the fight that’s going to put them in the next level. They win that fight and it’s like a light goes off. It’s like it’s OK to trust yourself now. It’s like all of a sudden, “OK, I belong.” Somebody gave you a badge – gave you one of those pins that tells you, you belong to this club. You’re recognized. You’re accepted. And I think it will come together if he wins this fight and I think that he’ll be at the point where every fight after that will just add to what he can be.
As far as raw potential, your first question, he’s a guy that I think was just an offensive minded guy when I first got him and I think some of that might not have worked at the next level. But I think that he – like I said earlier, he’s not what some people around him want him to be and not for bad reasons, but just natural reasons. Some people want him to be the “Russian Tyson.” They want him to be the Russian destroyer. But you are attached to what you are and what your make up is and that makeup started when you were a kid and the things that were part of your life and that influenced you. And I think he’s – I think his raw potential is that he’s got good speed, he’s got a good jab, he’s got to learn to have confidence and more confidence in that jab and he’s a decent puncher, but he’s got to recognize what he is and what he isn’t. I think he recognizes he’s not that big one-punch guy that may have been at some point what he was being billed as, and I think he was being billed as that guy. I think his raw potential is to know that he can trust himself as just being a complete fighter and being satisfied with that.
Q: And you were saying you didn’t want to get involved with fighters because of stuff like this happening. Has this sort of reinforced that? Or how do you feel now?
Teddy Atlas: Well, right now I just want to do my job. I really want to come through for the kid. I want to come through for my profession and for my family. I just want to do the job and get the job done and be hopefully successful. I’ve got to put it for the immediacy of it, I have to put it in the rearview mirror and concentrate on obviously why I’m here – but it reminds me of some of the things that you can’t control and that you wish you could control that are away from the things that I love.
The thing I love is being in the gym teaching. Being in the gym where nobody bothers you and you’re able to get into a kid. You’re able to get his full-undivided attention, his belief, his trust and you’re able to improve that kid. You’re able to get him to think things he might not have thought and get him to try things he might not have tried. And get to the look on his face that he’s starting to understand that, he’s starting to feel good about that and watch him grow. I mean almost like without being too ridiculous, almost like a parent. You’re watching your kid develop a little bit and that part is still beautiful and it’s pure and it’s the essence of boxing, watching somebody get better, watching somebody become more complete as a fighter, even as a person. They’re more sure of themselves. And that’s still great. I just wish that that could be bottled and there could be a fence put around that and all of the other stuff could be kept out. But you know what? That doesn’t happen because you’re dealing with life and you’re dealing with all of the other things that will come with anything.
Lennox Lewis: I think it’s going to be a scrappy fight. You’ve got two guys that love to throw punches and they’re definitely going to be throwing a lot of leather in there. And they’re similar size, similar age, so you should get a really exciting fight out of them.
Q: Teddy, how long in fact have you had to work with him this time?
Teddy Atlas: Unfortunately, I know exactly how long. When you have a lot of time, sometimes you forget, but when you have a little, you unfortunately remember. I had three weeks and two days and I just wish I had eight weeks. I’d take six weeks. But I had three weeks and two days and in reality and Lennox knows this better – as well as anybody and better than most people on the phone, is that in reality when you’re getting ready for a title fight, when you have three weeks and two days it’s really not three weeks and two days because when you get to a week out, you’ve got to start cutting down everything down. I mean you really can't do anymore sparring. I did – I did make an adjustment, and I let him box four rounds on Monday. Normally, I stop guys. And it depends on how guys react to stop the boxing. So you get a feel for that.
But normally, I might stop the week before. You know I might stop seven days, six days out. But I did go a little bit late. I finished up boxing Monday because I wanted to grab one extra day because of the circumstances. But again, it was three weeks and two days, but when you have the reality of a fight, you can only work for two weeks in that period, two weeks and maybe two days hard. And then once you start getting around a week before, and underneath that you got a – you really have to start cutting down.
Q: OK. And how long has he actually played here in America, or has he ever trained here in America?
Teddy Atlas: Oh, yes, he's had plenty. We've had maybe five, six camps in the U.S. I can't give you an exact number. I'd have to really sit down and think about it. But when we made the arrangements for him to start training with me, he understood he had come to United States when I was working for ESPN.
So I would say we had about four – at least four, five camps, maybe five, maybe even possibly six. But at least four or five camps in the United States. Some of the camps, the duration were two months. Some of them were six weeks. And we did have a mini camp. When we were waiting to see what was going to happen with the WBA decision on whether or not this fight was going to become the interim fight for the vacated title, for the regular WBA title, whatever they're calling it, while we were waiting for that – I think it was in June - and I said to them, "Look, get them over here. He hasn't fought for eight months." We fought, I think, it was like in December. He hurt his hand. I didn't know how his hand had healed. I didn't know what kind of condition it was in. He hadn't been active for all that time. We knew that we were on the horizon of a fight that was going to be popping up any time, we were going to start to find out about it about it. So I said, "Look, get him over here for a mini camp. Let's get him over here, and let me look at him. Let me evaluate his hand, and let me do a little training with him and see where he's at."
So we did, and it was a 2-1/2 week camp. So I did have that. But again, that was in June, and then, of course, there was all the time between that before the – before we got to this.
Q: And while he's over there and not training with you, I know it's one thing for him not to be training at all, but is he also getting alternate instruction that maybe takes away from what you put into him? Is he talking to another trainer?
Teddy Atlas: No, I don't think that's happening. He's a good kid. This is a great kid. I tell you, he's got good character. He's a terrific kid. He really is. And that's one of the main reasons I'm here under these conditions. But no. He has a strength coach, but nobody really talks boxing to him, where he's getting conflicting signals or you know the wrong signals from somebody. He's pretty much on his own. He'll do some running. He'll take time off like any fighter well. He may take three weeks off after a fight. And then he'll start running a couple of days a week and doing some weight training a couple days a week and that kind of stuff. And then if he does go into the gym, which he doesn't do a lot of when I'm not around. But if he does, he'll pretty much go in there on his own.
Mark Greenburg: IWe're just excited that it's going to be a terrific fight. It's great to hear from Teddy. We're thrilled that Lennox, again, is that on the EPIX announce team. We're excited about doing great fights. I think there's a really interesting competitive match, and I think it's good for boxing to do those kinds of match ups. So we're excited that we're able to put it on the EPIX network, and were looking forward to continuing our relationship with boxing fans.
Lewis Lennox: Povetkin has a good motion. He's strong. He's very gamy. And he's going to be making a good fight of it. He also, just to tell everybody, because my birthday is coming out. His break is coming up. And we actually share the same birthday. So that's pretty exciting. I'm very interested in seeing this fight and the improvement Povetkin has gone through with Teddy’s tutelage.
Teddy Atlas: I’d like to say hello to everybody at home. And I’m going to sure as hell be glad to see you guys when get back home. I look forward to seeing my family, and all the fans that I always appreciate that are always supportive out there. The boxing fans, I think, are the best in the world.
And I think you guys have filled a very definite void and done an important job for me in EPIX because you know these are fights that will belong to the public, and they’re important fights. They’re important fights, being that there over here in a different locale in Europe where a lot of activity is taking place. Firstly, heavyweight activities. The Europeans have owned the heavyweight division. And I think it's so important for the fans that EPIX has stepped into that void and taken responsibility, and I really mean that. It's important for the sport, it's important for fighters, and as I said, it's important for the fans. So I think EPIX should be applauded for what it’s doing. I really do. I really do. I mean I know it makes sense, and it's – it has to be based partly on business, but I think it's good that you guys have taken on the responsibility in that role.
And as far as the fight, you know you can say whatever you want, the WBA, the other organizations, some of the things they do, some of the decisions they make, and they make you scratch your head, it can make you hit your head against the wall, and can make you do a lot of things.
But at the end of the day, these are two were the guys. You've got – in my – in my kid, you got an undefeated kid that there's no questions on. There's no doubt about it. But people want to see those questions, so you're going to – they want to see them answered. And you've got a get a chance to see them answered. He's a former Olympic gold medalist from the Athens games in 2004 the same way as Klitschko and Lennox were gold medalists. So you want to see can he be possibly the heir to the throne. So there's an interest. He hasn't been beaten yet. You want to see what is he? What can it be?
And as far as Chagaev, you've got a legitimate solid guy. I mean you got a guy that was a world amateur champion. You've got a guy that was a world champion in the WBA. His only loss was to a guy named Klitschko, and that ain't too bad. He's a tough guy. He doesn't know how to do anything but make good fights. So you can make the argument, well, it's for the vacant title, it's for this, it's that. But the two were the top-rated guys, and ultimately everyone out there will be satisfied with the effort put forth on Saturday. And thank you.
Tags: Ruslan Chagaev , Alexander Povetkin , Povetkin-Chagaev , Povetkin vs Chagaev