By Keith Idec
Longtime ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas won’t work the cable network’s telecast Saturday night of the highly anticipated Vasyl Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux fight.
Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix reported Wednesday that the outspoken Atlas, a former trainer who has worked ESPN boxing broadcasts for nearly 20 years, won’t take his usual ringside seat alongside blow-by-blow announcer Joe Tessitore in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The move comes less than month after Atlas spent a significant portion of an ESPN broadcast verbally sparring against Mark Kriegel, a former newspaper columnist and new member of the network’s announcing team.
That distracting dynamic drew criticism from television and radio columnists and fans following the November 11 broadcast from Fresno, California.
It is not known if the arguing between the always-animated Atlas and Kriegel had anything to do with Atlas’ removal from the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux broadcast or if it’s a permanent move. Stephanie Druley, an ESPN senior vice president for event and studio production, did tell Mannix that Staten Island’s Atlas, 61, has provided a feature piece for Saturday’s telecast and will continue to contribute to the network’s boxing coverage.
“Teddy’s expertise and knowledge of boxing is unparalleled and he will continue to be part of our boxing coverage,” Druley said. “As we embark upon a new approach with our boxing coverage, we are also going to utilize different talent lineups.”
She did not confirm the team that’ll work Saturday’s telecast.
The four-fight telecast is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST. In addition to the 12-round, 130-pound title bout between Ukraine’s Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) and Cuba’s Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC), it’ll include fights featuring 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (3-0, 1 KO), a featherweight from Newark, New Jersey, Irish featherweight prospect Michael Conlan (4-0, 4 KOs) and Puerto Rican super featherweight contender Christopher Diaz (21-0, 13 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.