Teddy Atlas has been around the sport of boxing longer than some fighters have been alive. From training Mike Tyson and Tim Bradley, to being a commentator on some of the most memorable fights in history, Atlas is considered an expert.
With the wealth of knowledge he has under his belt, he didn’t understand the point of cross-over boxing. You know what that is right? It’s when UFC fighters ditch their four-ounce gloves, exit the dangerous confines of the cage, and enter a boxing ring.
Conor McGregor kicked off that trend in 2017 against Floyd Mayweather. Since then, his MMA peers have done their best to be a part of something similar but nothing picked up enough traction to get over the line.
Francis Ngannou, however, brought more than enough eyeballs and intrigue to the table to make things happen. So, with the former UFC heavyweight champ promising that his transition was far from a publicity stunt, Tyson Fury yawned as Ngannou continued to yap braggadociously about his skills.
Fury never took the cross-over star seriously but once he was given a ridiculous amount of cash, he figured why not? He couldn't see an easier payday. With the money already deposited into his account, Fury was convinced that Ngannou was nothing more than a sparring match...so did Atlas.
The former revered trainer respected Ngannou’s willingness to step through those ropes but he couldn’t find a pathway for him to pull off the win. Once the two gigantic heavyweights began swapping fists on October 28th, Atlas couldn’t believe what he was watching.
Ngannou’s footwork, his pernicious knockout power, and his underrated defense - it all translated seamlessly. In the second frame, the former UFC champ dropped the current WBC titlist. For the duration of their 10-round clash, he thoroughly outboxed the future Hall of Famer.
Nothing about Ngannou’s performance was pragmatic. And even with the new heavyweight contender losing a close and controversial split decision, Atlas is looking past those shady scorecards. From his point of view, not only is Ngannou the real deal, he also believes he’s better from top to bottom than a certain hard-hitting star from Alabama.
“His technique is better than the former heavyweight champ, (Deontay) Wilder,” said Atlas. “This stuff ain’t crazy no more.”