Teddy Atlas is not afraid to make a controversial point, this much we know for sure.
On the most recent edition of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, studio host Brian Kenny and ringside commentator, Atlas, waxed poetic about Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory over ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley.
Like most of the viewers at home, who were subjected to that bore of a bout, the pair was anything but impressed by what either man brought to the ring. Further, they couldn’t help but ponder what this latest bust of a match meant to the Filipino star’s legacy – given how it was simply the latest in a long line of sleep-inducing fighs between Pacquiao and a cherry-picked, over-matched opponent.
Atlas, for his part, held back no punches (no pun intended):
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“It [Pacquiao's legacy] a bit of a question mark. It [a win over 39-year-old Mosley] doesn’t do a lot for it. It’s either a neutral or a negative to be quite honest with you because it opens up the question. These last four or five fights that have made him [Pacquiao] an icon, who have they been with?
“ One of them was with Oscar De La Hoya, who looked like a shot fighter, dead at the weight; Another was with [Miguel] Cotto, a fighter who was a damaged fighter psychologically and physically after [Antonio] Margarito did what he did to him. And then with [Joshua] Clottey, who didn’t fight and just covered up all night long. [Ricky] Hatton was made to order. Margarito looked like he had no strength. He was dead at the weight. It makes you think that. And, of course, Mosley, who was almost 40-years-old, came with no effort to try and win the fight, and looked like he was there to just get a paycheck.”
But Atlas wasn’t done there.
“It makes you start to wonder about his [Pacquiao] legacy. Has he been built up with guys that have been perfectly picked, perfectly matched where they had problems and that’s why he was able to win so convincingly and that’s why he became such a star? I know he’s a terrific fighter with terrific talent, but it kind of asks that question. Has he been in with a bunch of set ups?
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“People will say, [Floyd] Mayweather didn’t want to fight him, but Mayweather was ready to fight him but he wouldn’t give up a tube of blood and take Olympic type testing for performance enhancing drugs. So that fight isn’t being made. You got Tim Bradley out there. Some people will say Bradley isn’t big enough, but Bradley is quick, he’s undefeated, he’s a real game son of a gun. He will do much more than 40-year-old or close to 40-year-old Mosley. I’m saying the guys [Pacquiao] fights were perfectly set up for him. It’s not maybe his fault, but they were guys, one way or another, had a little bit of a flaw.”
Ouch. As it turns out, the truth really does hurt.
While Pacquiao's staunch defenders will no doubt bring out the “he can only fight the fighters in front of him” defense, it doesn’t hold much water. There are plenty of young, athletic fighters who the Filipino could have squared off against over the last few years. But Pacman has shirked them in favor of big paydays and easy victories. That, coupled with Manny's unique knack for avoiding guys until they’re too worn down and old to do serious damage (see: Mosley) leaves a lot to be desired.
Atlas, no doubt, will catch a ton of flack for his take. Still, you have to admire the fact that he would put himself out there like he did, taking a stand against the biggest pop star in boxing.