Atlas Shrugged: Povetkin vs. Holyfield

By Robert Ecksel on September 22, 2011
Atlas Shrugged: Povetkin vs. Holyfield
"We didn’t take anything for granted that night," said Atlas, "and it still happened." (Al Bello)

“I have some experience with old-timers who aren’t supposed to have anything left,” Atlas said. “One of them was a guy named George Foreman…”

Teddy Atlas is back in the U.S. after a tumultuous month in Europe. The pressure of having had just three weeks and two days to train Alexander Povetkin for the fight of his life may have taken a toll on Atlas. But it doesn’t show, in part because he’s in good shape, and in part because Povetkin did what he needed to do to defeat Ruslan Chagaev and win the WBA heavyweight title.

For Povetkin, the reward was a championship belt around the waist. For Teddy Atlas, it is a feather in his cap.

One of Povetkin’s first potential challengers to his newly won title was sitting ringside at the Messehalle in Erfurt, Germany. Evander Holyfield has expressed an interest, and an interest has been expressed back, that he be the first man to challenge Povetkin for the crown. Nothing has been finalized. But Povetkin has gone public with his misgivings, while others in and out of the game have wondered publicly and privately if this match is such a good idea.

“I make decisions,” Atlas told, “we all make decisions, and what we do, what we don’t do, what we’re part of, what we’re not part of, and it’s based on things we think are important to us and things we believe in. I don’t know that I’d be training Holyfield to be honest with you. Even though he’s done so many great things, at this point in his life, at 48, I’m not sure.”

Atlas’ misgivings are understandable. The future hall-of-famer was never less than the warrior’s warrior, and his many battles during his 57-fight career have taken a toll. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the surface is of greater concern.

Atlas continued: “I know that people are going to say, ‘Wow, he says that, yet you might be fighting him.’ But they’re two different things. That’s not my responsibility. It would be my responsibility if I was training him, but that’s obviously a decision made by the promoter and by the manager. When that decision gets made, if it does indeed become Holyfield and I’m training Povetkin, I will deal professionally with what I have to deal with.”

There’s no place for sentimentality in boxing. Atlas wants what’s best for Holyfield, just as he wants what’s best for his fighter. But he understands that the words “protect yourself at all times,” “may the best man win,” and “come out fighting” are meant to advise, encourage and warn everyone in boxing, should they be foolish enough to forget, that this is a serious business, a hurting business, and not a game.

“Just as I have to make decisions I’m responsible for, those people have to make their decisions for the things they’re responsible for as far as who makes a decision whether someone fights or not. I’ll tell you one thing though. If indeed I’m training Povetkin and Holyfield is the opponent, I’ll put blinders on and prepare my fighter professionally as I tell him to prepare for a fight where we take nothing for granted.”

Even at the age of 48, if Holyfield catches you he can do some damage. It has been years since he’s been the best of the best, but he can still give and take a mean shot.

“I have some experience with old-timers who aren’t supposed to have anything left,” Atlas said. “One of them was a guy named George Foreman. And we prepared, we were ready, we were winning every minute of every round, until the one that mattered: the one where Foreman used all the experience and character and everything in his life to pull off what some people call that ‘miraculous win’ against my fighter Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight title at the age of 45. So I know something about old-timers who are supposed to have nothing left. We didn’t take anything for granted that night—and it still happened.

“So if I’m training Povetkin and the name of the opponent is someone named Evander Holyfield, a great former world champion, all I’ll be thinking about is that my fighter is ready to behave like a champion and keep his title. After all, that’s the first responsibility of a trainer—to take care of his fighter.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

George Foreman -vs- Michael Moorer (Part 1/5)

George Foreman -vs- Michael Moorer (Part 2/5)

George Foreman -vs- Michael Moorer (Part 3/5)

George Foreman -vs- Michael Moorer (Part 4/5)

George Foreman -vs- Michael Moorer (Part 5/5)

Alexander Povetkin vs Ruslan Chagaev - Part 1 of 4

Alexander Povetkin vs Ruslan Chagaev - Part 2 of 4

Alexander Povetkin vs Ruslan Chagaev - Part 3 of 4

Alexander Povetkin vs Ruslan Chagaev - Part 4 of 4

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  1. pugknows 05:45pm, 09/23/2011

    Good stuff, Michael. I could not agree more.

  2. mschmidt 12:16pm, 09/23/2011

    WBA, WBC that is not the issue for me. It’s the fighters and the promoters. Fight somebody worthy. “Protect your fighter.” We the fans don’t want to watch “protect your fighter.” Its ruining the sport. Too much emphasis is put on the sanctioning bodies. Put it on the fighters and their managers and promoters. Chavez Jr. - first stop step up and fight a Rubio. Canelo- time to step in with a Martinez or an Angulo. I dont really care if you are WBA, WBC or IDGAF (I dont give a fooooo…) If you want to walk around calling yourself a “Champion” step on up. Same deal with Manny calling himself a Jr Middle champ after beating Margarito and publicity blabbing that they garnered another belt in ANOTHER DIVISION. You want to be “Champion” in that division then fight Martinez. Hell, Duran went up and fought Hagler (damn near won as well). Make the fights “Champions.”

  3. mikecasey 01:01am, 09/23/2011

    It occurs to me that the ever inventive WBA can neatly get around future criticism by simply appointing Holyfield as their Eternal World Champion Emeritus & Invincible. Any further defeats suffered by Evander will therefore be null and void.

  4. Robert Ecksel 04:34pm, 09/22/2011

    Schmidty—I agree that Holyfield doesn’t deserve the shot, but it seemed like a foregone conclusion before Povetkin even fought Chagaev. He’s getting the shot because he’s a name fighter, and name fighters, no matter how decrepit, put fannies in seats. Roy Jones Jr. is a prime example. I don’t know that Atlas wants to be involved in this “farce,” as you rightly put it, and if he had his way I’m sure he’d prefer Povetkin face stiffer competition. But he’s not the matchmaker, manager or promoter. He’s just the trainer, and Atlas wants to protect his fighter, and that means being in his corner.

  5. mike schmidt 04:09pm, 09/22/2011

    boxrec has this one ready to go for Dec. 17 for the WBA Heavyweight Championship of the World. By what step Holyfield deserves that shot as opposed to so many more deserving fighters I do not know at all. The more interesting question Sir Robert might have been to have Teddy, who I deeply admire, put on his commentator hat for a moment and tell us why why why. And, taking aside the dinero factor, why would you even want to be involved in such a farce. Holyfield does not deserve the shot.

  6. David Matthew 02:03pm, 09/22/2011

    One of the greatest article titles on the site. lol—> “Atlas Shrugged”—I like Povetkin and thought he was a top prospect a few years ago….and thought he should’ve taken his stab at Wladimir when he had the chance as now he may never get that chance.  A win over Holyfield will mean nothing.  He needs to fight and beat somebody like Helenius or Arreola in order to traction back…his biggest win is against Chambers in what was a very close, competitive fight.  I reckon he’s still not ready for the top - but time is running out for him.

  7. The Thresher 12:00pm, 09/22/2011

    Fighting Holy is just a step in the journey to the Klits. Holy is no longer relevant.

  8. The Thresher 11:58am, 09/22/2011

    This is a great win for Teddy and gives him even more credibility as an announcer. He needed something like this after the Bruce Seldon debacle. Timing is everything.

    Unfortunately, Pov’s reward will be a beat down by the Klits. But it will be a great payday and Teddy will get his percenatge. A win win situation.

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