Teddy Atlas: The Fix Is In

By Robert Ecksel on May 20, 2012
Teddy Atlas: The Fix Is In
It might just be, as Teddy alleges, that being a lapdog has its advantages. (Robert Ecksel)

“This sport of ours allows itself to be corrupted, because there’s no separation of church and state—none, no separation, absolutely none…”

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”—Hunter S. Thompson

Everyone has his or her favorite sport. It’s sometimes performed on diamonds, greens and gridirons. It’s sometimes played on courts, pitches and ice. Some even like to watch their favorite sport through a chain link fence. To each their own. We respect freedom of choice. We also respect others’ opinion. But our hard-on for boxing, no matter what frowns it may induce in others, is as long-lasting, as longstanding, as it is Viagra-free. And if we’re sometimes critical of boxing, which every thinking man has a right and responsibility to express, it’s because we love the sport as much as we do. That we’ve elected to be the tail that wags the dog rather than the dog that wags the tail doesn’t mean that we’re not boxing’s best friend.

“Boxing is,” as George Foreman sagely pointed out, “the sport to which all others aspire.” Big George may be biased, like everyone else on the planet, but when it comes to pure, unadulterated, primordial competition, boxing has no peer. That doesn’t, however, mitigate the many problems that plague the sport, which are too numerous, perhaps even too depressing to name. But to ignore boxing’s problems is to stick one’s head in the sand, where sight, sound, perception and knowledge are muffled by stifling darkness.

Not long ago I spoke with ESPN’s Teddy Atlas about the upcoming fight between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. Whether his conclusions regarding the fight were ultimately right or wrong is beside the point. There are too many variables in any fight for any man, no matter how smart and accomplished, to be correct all the time. But Teddy’s analysis notwithstanding, he represents, at least for me, the art of the possible—when it comes to language, when it comes to the ramifications of putting it on the line and telling it like it is whether anyone likes it or not.

One of Atlas’ qualities, if it can be considered a quality in context of the mind numbing nature of watching TV, is his emotionalism. Emotion, honest emotion that is, is frowned upon in a medium conceived to entertain, distract, and sell goods and services to the unsuspecting. We can accept with a little arm-twisting tears of emotion, no matter how discomfiting. But anger is another story. Atlas has displayed anger on camera on more than one occasion, and it causes the average couch potato, whose movements extend no further than reaching for the remote or nearest beer, to squirm. Yet Teddy’s anger, however seemingly misplaced, is always the result of, specifically his reaction to, a perceived injustice. It goes without saying that one person’s perceived injustice is another person’s excuse for mockery, but that’s life.

After discussing Mayweather-Cotto, Teddy went on one of his rants. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. But instead of finding it a turnoff—the way I find megalomania and illiteracy a turnoff—I find it a turn-on, because Atlas knows what he knows, just as he knows what he doesn’t know, which few are willing to admit. But one thing is for sure: Teddy Atlas, no matter how rough around the edges, is an honorable cat and knows the ins and outs of this racket as well as anyone.

“In all other sports,” he told Boxing.com, “people are held accountable for their actions, for their business behavior. In our business nobody does anything. There’s bad judging. Nobody does anything. I always have to be the one yelling about it. And you know what? I’m tired of yelling about it. Because what good is it if it’s not being backed up in any other way?”

I could be deluding myself, it wouldn’t be the first or last time, but would like to believe we’re giving Atlas the backup, or at least the platform he needs, to help get the word out.

“These fights,” said Atlas, “there are no bad decisions every week, every other week. You know what they are? They’re FIXED FIGHTS. That’s what they are. They’re FIXED FIGHTS. There are never bad decisions the other way, when the promoter’s guy gets a bad decision. Are there? No. Are they a little bit? No. Do they ever happen that way? No. THEY’RE FIXED FIGHTS—TOTALLY FIXED.

“How are they fixed? Their fixed because this sport of ours allows itself to be corrupted, because there’s no separation of church and state—none, no separation, absolutely none. A promoter can run to the commissions that are all over the place, from different states, from different organizations that have already been proven in federal court to be corrupt, where the president of the IBF took money—it was on videotape—taking money for ratings. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?

As focused as boxing is these days on PEDs in the wake of the Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto scandals, the business-as-usual model, with some modifications, continues on its merry way, continuing to shrink the fan base and sap the vitality of our sport. If one is at the top of the food chain it doesn’t matter. But boxing has traditionally been a bottom-up sport. Tradition may have gone the way of the double-jab and infighting, but we’re lying to ourselves, and in turn lying to others, when we lop off a few fighters’ heads, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, while ignoring the scores of other offenses that are perpetuated on a daily basis.

“So forget about the stuff you’ve got to prove,” continued Atlas, “that you’ve got to find a smoking gun. Forget that. Put it aside, because no one’s going to investigate that. But it wouldn’t be hard to do. It would be so easy. Just look into their accounts. It would be painless if they were to do a forensic accounting. They would find it. But what I’m talking about doesn’t even have to go that deep. I’m talking about the organizations—common sense here—the organizations and the commissions that are running this business. The promoters have relationships. And guess what human beings do when they have relationships. They talk. They plan. They scheme. They finagle. That’s what they do. And what do human beings do when you give them a chance in a business and there’s no separation of the relationship? One guy controls this part of it. The other guy controls the other part of it. Guess what they do. They get together and say, ‘Hey, how can we help each other? Hey, how can we better our position? Hey, how can we make more money?’ That’s why walls are put up. That’s why there’s structure. That’s why there’s policy. That’s why there’s policing. That’s why the stock market has the SEC policing over there. That’s why the music industry has the policing for something else. That’s why those things are put in place—to STOP THOSE THINGS FROM HAPPENING. But nothing is put in place to stop those things from happening in boxing.”

Anyone who knows boxing knows that it is, as Jimmy Cannon described it, “The red light district of sports.” That is of course part of its charm. The pimps and whores, the hustlers and rustlers, the scoundrels, conmen and bullshit artists are as integral to boxing as amorality. The few that wander into boxing that are not to the manner born grow accustomed to the dark side, embrace what was once antithetical their better selves and say, “Screw it—I’m gonna get mine.”

“You go into a certain place, you know where to go, you go into that place the night before a big fight, you go into a restaurant, the head of the organization and all the officials, all the judges, all the referees—I’ve been there. I’ve been at the dinners. They’re all having a $5000 dinner. Guess who’s paying for it: the promoter. He’s at the dinner. He’s paying for it. All the heads of the organization, everyone’s there. What do you think happens?

“Would the Steinbrenners have a deal like that with the head of the umpiring organization before the World Series? Don’t make me laugh. Of course they couldn’t, because the sport would go down the toilet if they did. Because there’s someone there to make sure that doesn’t happen. But if there was no one there to make sure it didn’t happen, it would happen. But it can’t happen because they don’t let it happen. But it happens in my sport. It happens all the time. And what else do you think happens besides picking up the tab and having wine and lobster and caviar and steak and all the best of everything?  What do think is happening there? What do you think happens at these dinners? You don’t think that the organization, the dinner that’s being thrown by their friend the promoter, you don’t think that he’s making sure the right judges are being picked, are being assigned—let me use the right word: ASSIGNED—to do the fight the next night?  You don’t think those judges KNOW who has to win?”

I can’t remember the last time anyone fed me wine and lobster and caviar and steak. I’m mostly used to eating crow and my own words. Maybe, as Teddy alleges, being a lapdog has its advantages. It certainly has its advantages for some.

“And here’s another thing. This is a fact. It’s not my thinking. This is a fact, because I happen to know. And you don’t think some of those guys come over and say, ‘Can I get my room upgraded to a suite?’ ‘Yeah, sure. Sure Mr. Referee, sure Mr. Judge. Yes, okay, no problem.’ ‘Oh, by the way, can I also get my room extended for an extra two days? My girlfriend’s coming in and she wants to stay for an extra two days. We want to enjoy ourselves. Beautiful climate here and, you know, we’d like to stay for two extra days’ ‘Yeah, no problem.’ ‘Oh, by the way, my wife decided she’s going to fly in. Can I get two plane tickets instead of one?’ ‘Sure.’

“You don’t think that’s happening? I’ll think for you. It is. Yes, it is. THAT IS CORRUPTION. That’s why I’m screaming on ESPN every week about these decisions. And I’ll probably get myself eventually fired, although in fifteen years I’ve done everything except gotten fired. But I probably eventually will, because I don’t even think I’m going to call them bad decisions anymore. I think I’m just going to call them what they are—fixed fights. I’m going to say ‘fixed fight, fixed fight,’ because that’s what they are. And nobody wants to look at it. Am I going to be the only guy?”

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  1. nick 09:42am, 09/17/2012

    There will always be judges who are either biased or make wrong calls. I have never understood why there has never been a way to overturn a bad descision. I feel that I have the solution to this problem, though am amazed that it has never been considered. While I would be against a descsion being overturned if the judges had it unanimous, I see no reason why a majority descision, split, or majority draw or split draw could not be overturned. Example, when Pacquiao lost to Bradley by split decision. There were three other judges who viewed the fight afterwards, and all three unanimously had it for Pacquiao. That could have allowed Pacquaio to keep his title. If those judges would have been split in favor of Pacquiao, we would go by the original three judges decision. If also if Gabriel Campillo had his loss to Tavoris Cloud overturned by a majority or unanimous decision, Campillo would be the new champion, but there respective records would have the fight, as it would be both for Bradley and Pacquiao, as a no decision, and an immediate rematch should be ordered. I think this would be fair.

  2. JOHNNY BOS 10:57pm, 05/28/2012

    IN THIS DAY AND ERA FRANKIE CARBO AND BLINKY PALERMO WOULD BE CALLED CHOIR BOYS COMPARED TO WHAT IS GOING ON NOW

  3. jhink 09:54pm, 05/28/2012

    love teddy nobody w as much knowledge in the sport keeps it this real…much respect. ive been seeing the fixed fights for some time now but its seems the past few years are super obvious!

  4. The Thresher 06:12am, 05/24/2012

    As long as you can count the number of documented users beginning with Botha on two hands, you don’t have a crisis. :twisted”

  5. Bodyshots 05:51am, 05/23/2012

    Joseph Valachi was also a despicable human being but not even Hoover was able to deny what he described in what turned out to be accurate detail. Not unlike that situation, there are those (if not Most) still determined to deny, stall, or otherwise sabotage the truth coming out about Boxing.

  6. Joe 07:35pm, 05/22/2012

    Atlas is big hypocrite.  He has done worse, than most, is friends with gangsters, and has taken every fighter he ever trained to non-commission states to fight, yet knocks others repeatedly on ESPN for doing same.  He also had Povetkin fight a suspended fighter, Bruce Seldon, in Povetkins first rublic boxing match under him, and called it an exhibition.  Seldon was KO’d, and they had a referee, judges, and timekeeper there.

  7. Bodyshots 07:14am, 05/22/2012

    until credible news outlets and experts articulate and hammer the crisis home to the mainstream, there is no crisis. otherwise, the crisis already exists but for the majority, it’s not real unless they read it in print/cyber-print or hear it on television from people who’ve investigated the issue and return to report the facts. ignorance and complacency is not only the foundation of “the fix” that Atlas describes but virtually every chronic injustice that defies the law and the common good. unless more people join Atlas in blowing the whistle, the situation will only continue to worsen and spread.

  8. Don from Prov 04:38pm, 05/21/2012

    “Sliding ever further towards a state of being where only the official truth is the truth. For a man of my age, it smacks too uncomfortably of the Soviet Union”—Good for you Mr. Casey: I know we stay away from politics on this site, beyond the politics of boxing, but as much as Atlas is speaking the truth about boxing, you are in a wider way.
    And Mr. Thresher, with his comment cut a bit short and pushed out of context—“What is needed is a major crisis that forces Fed intervention” could be responding about the banking crisis.

    P.S. I appreciate that info Mr. Ecksel but I have about a hundred passwords and usernames floating around.  It was much easier when then was one readable word to copy.

  9. The Thresher 03:41pm, 05/21/2012

    Bodyshot. don’t rely on the press or the writers to fix this. What is needed is a major crisis that forces Fed intervention which in turn will result in a National Commission that can set and enforce across the board reforms and rules. We need a crisis.

  10. Bodyshot 02:15pm, 05/21/2012

    the powers that be will never develop the infrastructure to regulate themselves without outside pressure. that’s where the media (or boxing’s “experts”) is supposed to come in. report and highlight the facts that support the creation of an infrastructure that compels commissions and promoters to regulate and monitor unhealthy relationships between judges, refs, and promoter$. every writer on every boxing site should demonstrate their own integrity by hammering Atlas’ revelations assertions Home to the mainstream instead of ignoring them for headline-grabbing spectacle instead. that is the supposed to be the historical watchdog role of the media/press. report (not ignore) the Facts and rely on the public to act/react.

  11. The Thresher 02:02pm, 05/21/2012

    Paul Magno has been saying the very same thing. No infrastructure.

  12. The Thresher 01:56pm, 05/21/2012

    Don from Prov, Atlas also glorified scumbag Sammy The Bull Gravano in his book. The old tough guy bullshit. Fact is, none of us is perfect and this includes Teddy who keeps close company with his own little clique.

  13. Bodyshot 12:34pm, 05/21/2012

    years ago, that great and authentic expert “EZ E” detailed the same situation on another boxing website that Atlas describes in this article. of course, every other presumed “expert” looks the other way and continues to directly and indirectly shill on behalf of the corrupt promoters who continue to shamelessly and transparently compromise the integrity of sport with their influence peddling. the most gratifying element of Salido’s win over Lopez was his determination and ability to take the final verdict out the hands of Arum’s approved juding panel with a KO victory. of course, there were plenty “experts” who guaranteed that Salido could and would get a fair shake in that bout. that is until the scores were revealed and the attempted robbery exposed. over the past 20 years this country’s media has gradually abandoned its sacred duty to hold the powers that be accountable by keeping the average citizen informed of the Facts. sadly, the boxing media and it’s “experts” have done the same with the Sport of Boxing. i rarely agree with anything Atlas says in the heat of ring-battle but this sober and reflective Atlas should be praised for his candor and personal integrity on the topic of corruption in Boxing.

  14. Pete The Sneak 12:20pm, 05/21/2012

    Teddy Atlas is who he is and wears his heart on his sleeve. No fake emotions here. He is a Boxing person/ fan who just happens to have a platform to be able to tell it like it is. I admire the man very much. Also, I agree with Don from Prov, what’s with the secret agent type double wording to Post? Heck, had to get out the bifocals to de-crypt and gamble that the Post would go through. Got it on the 8th try…Peace.

  15. mikecasey 11:15am, 05/21/2012

    Teddy’s got guts, I’ll give him that. And speaking out probably will get him fired in the end. Greatly worrying to me that society is sliding ever further towards a state of being where only the official truth is the truth. For a man of my age, it smacks too uncomfortably of the Soviet Union.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 11:00am, 05/21/2012

    Ah yes…fights are fixed…easy for Teddy to say…but which ones? Hmmm….separation of church and state….cryptic….but I think I get it! Church and state…church and state….eureka! Hopkins scores a one punch K.O. over the Golden Boy…no really….Hopkins scores a one punch K.O…..that says it all right there! Oh by the way….it wasn’t a liver shot….unless the liver resides somewhere in the vicinity of the ass.

  17. Don from Prov 10:38am, 05/21/2012

    Viagra free hard-ons. ....

    Red light districts?  Oh, a boxing article!
    And a good one at that.  Sometimes I get tired of listening to Teddy repeat the same insight over and over (he’s leaning into that right hand!) yet it’s no worse than listening to Big George Foreman preach endlessly that one should never follow a puncher around the ring.  But when it comes to integrity, Atlas is right on: He may be a little too proud of the fact, but nobody is perfect.  He is speaking the truth at least.  P.S. Speaking of not being able to let an idea go, Boxing.com should put Thresher and Teddy (or somebody) in a closed room to battle out the realities of the BWAA.  And why are you all trying to make it impossible to post with this double word stuff; the second word is unreadable!!

  18. David Matthew 10:08am, 05/21/2012

    Teddy is a great moral compass in the sport.  While I disagree with a lot of his pre-fight predictions and some of his analysis, I never disagree w/ his emotional honesty.  He’s a very important voice in the sport, a courageous and fearless one, at that.

    Great work Robert.

  19. The Thresher 08:23am, 05/21/2012

    At least he says it. I just wish he would be a tad more consistent. You can’t wine and dine with certain organizations and diss others.

  20. The Thresher 05:31am, 05/21/2012

    But he IS just about the only one willing to speak out and that’s very important.

  21. The Thresher 05:31am, 05/21/2012

    Yeah, Teddy is on it, be he also mingles closely with the BWAA which suggest to me at least that he needs to look at the blatant conflicts in which a few of the BWAA members engage like the one at HBO, for example..

  22. WILLIAM MAJOR 06:42pm, 05/20/2012

    Man he is so dead on. I’ve been in that same position, getting hosed by the corruption of those officials ... u go on the road, forget it ... It took the wind out of a fighter I had. After a while he just said f**k it, I’m not going to get the decision ... Good for you Teddy ...

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