"We don't have enough pros around. What do I mean by a pro? I mean a guy that's going to do what he's gotta do and what's in front of him to do, whose emotions aren't going to get in the way. He is going to be able to do those things, and we don't have a lot of those guys at the upper level. We don't have those pros around anymore and we don't have the teachers around that we need to have anymore. And that's a part of it too," stated ESPN commentator and world-class trainer Teddy Atlas, who shared his thoughts on the recent performance of Bernard Hopkins and much more. Check it out!
PC: A great season so far of Friday Night Fights. It's great to have you back on the air.
TA: Ah, thank you. I appreciate it very much. We have had a really good season.
PC: A lot of great fights for sure this season. And a few fights to where you expressed guys maybe should start thinking about walking away. Cory Spinks actually has walked away, but also Jose Luis Castillo and Nate Campbell looked like guys with not a whole lot left.
TA: Yeah! Look, it's always important to get out at the right time and sometimes people stay too long. I always say to people, the writers and different people that talk about that, I remember seeing Willie Mays stay around too long. He played for the Mets and he couldn't make his basket catch anymore and it was sad to see that; to remember him that way. The great Willie Mays. But he wasn't getting hit in the head and that's the difference. See, the guys in my business and our business, they stay around too long, they are not just dropping a fly ball, they are not just getting embarrassed, they are not just ruining their legacy, but they are getting damaged, and damage that they are never gonna recover from and that's always the concern. I hope that the commissioners do their job and help guys get out when they need to get out and make it clear when they need to, which is not easy. It's not a simple science. It is very difficult and subjective. And there is always that concern of what do they do when they get out? What are they prepared to do? And sometimes, the answer is they are not prepared to do some of the things they need to do to feel good about getting out.
That's why I have always complained about this national commission because part of that, I would want them to set up some kind of pension. You know, everyone says, "Well how are you gonna do a pension for fighters?" It's not that difficult. What's difficult is there is no structure to get it done. There is no national commission or national body looking out for these fighters or looking out for the sport. It's every man for themselves. You have all of these greedy promoters who are all out for themselves. And really, the simplest one to me would be put a tax and again, there is no structure to do that, but put a tax on these mega-fights. Put a 1%, put a 1 1/2% or a 2% tax on these mega-fights that bring in $100 million or $150 million. Put a tax on them and put that money in a pool and set up a pension for these fighters, and then you gotta figure out a formula to where you distribute it and who you distribute it to. Is it after 10 pro fights, 20 pro fights? You can figure that out. If you get the right people together with the right committee, they can figure that formula out. But the first thing is to have the intention to do it and have the structure to follow that through.
PC: From guys who may want to retire to a guy that seems he will never retire, Bernard Hopkins recently defeated Tavoris Cloud and captured another title at the age of 48. What did you think of his performance against Cloud and him continuing to have success at 48 years of age?
TA: Look, everyone is different. George Foreman was different; he was special. Everybody is genetically made up different. God was smarter than all of us. He gave us all different gifts and different things to deal with what we have to deal with, some more, some less, but one way or the other, we got what we needed to have a chance to be successful if it was in our mind and heart to be successful. And some people got more of this and some people got less of this, and some people got more of something else. To that degree, Hopkins was well taken care of. George Foreman was well taken care of. Their parents gave them good genes, and also, they weren't worn out and used up. He never took beatings in his career, and Hopkins didn't have a long amateur career, so that has served him now at 48. In his pro career, he always had good defensive skills and a good style to where he was the guy taking advantage of other people being aggressive. He wasn't walking into the lion's den and getting scratched up and bitten up. He's not used up. But also, you know, people don't like honesty. "Teddy you bashing!" Listen, if I can't be honest, I will just keep my big damn mouth shut. I give all the applause and all of the accolades to Bernard. I take my hat off to him, great job, but you are doing good also because the landscape is a very forgiving landscape. There is no getting around that. He couldn't have done that with Marvin Hagler. He couldn't have done that with Sugar Ray Leonard. He couldn't have done that with those generation of fighters. He can do it with guys like Cloud. He could do it with guys like Pascal and these kinds of guys that come up short in a lot of areas. They really do. They come up short technically and mentally as pro fighters as to what they will do and how they will behave in the ring and how they will go after things. He is taking advantage of those short comings. And I give him all of the credit. I give him all of the credit in the world, but I'm also gonna be honest and say he is around at the right time with the right landscape to take advantage of those things.
Cloud was limited mentally. We didn't know how limited mentally he was until he got in there. We knew he was limited technically and he's limited as far as his approach to boxing and the things he can do. He was very one-dimensional. I think we understood some of that. But now, we understand how limited he was mentally. He didn't push the envelope against a 48-year-old man. He didn't behave...he didn't go after Bernard the way he needed to go after Bernard at this point in his career. Now I know Bernard boxed and counter punched; he was allowed to do that to a certain extent. I know he did it, but the kind of fight plan wasn't brought forward, and to bring the kind of fight plan that needed to be brought forward with a guy like Bernard at this point in his career also takes not just a vehicle; not only the car to be driven, but the driver to drive the car, and the driver is obviously the person's mind and the person's spirit and intellect and temperament, and you could see the shortcomings there with Cloud. He is not a top pro. It's that simple. A top pro would see the opportunities, what has to be done with a Bernard Hopkins, and put that kind of effort forward and put that kind of pressure forward. Well, he didn't do that. He was much too conservative, he was much too tentative, and he allowed Bernard to have the kind of pace and the kind of range and set up that he needed to win that fight. So with his shortcomings physically, technically, but mostly mentally and emotionally we just don't have those kinds of pros around no more. We just don't have 'em. We don't have enough pros around. What do I mean by a pro? I mean a guy that's going to do what he's gotta do and what's in front of him to do, whose emotions aren't going to get in the way. He is going to be able to do those things, and we don't have a lot of those guys at the upper level. We don't have those pros around anymore and we don't have the teachers around that we need to have anymore. And that's a part of it too.
PC: You used a key word, "teachers." We have a lot of trainers and not enough teachers in my opinion.
TA: Yeah, we have plenty of guys that throw towels over their shoulders and say, "Hey, go over there and hit that bag and let me know when you're done." We don't need guys like that to say, "Dave, go hit that bag for 4 rounds or 6 rounds." No, we need guys to get in the ring and teach them; show them how to do things. Develop them so that they don't just learn on their own through trial and error from experience. You learn certain things through trial and error and then certain things you can progress from experience; you can get more mature, you can get calmer, and with that comes confidence. You can learn a lot of things from experience because you can see things better, but you should be taught things. You should be shown how to progress as a fighter, and not just technically, but also mentally. You should have guys that push guys mentally and help guys develop mentally. Help them develop a higher threshold and higher endurance level. And I don't mean physical endurance, but a higher emotional endurance of being able to tolerate things when going into the lion's den. That was necessary against Hopkins. If Cloud had a more developed mental approach and mental threshold, if Cloud had that and had been developed more in those areas, he would have pushed the envelope more, but he didn't.