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Sunday, November 8, 2015

A trainer and his fighter

On Saturday night, WBO welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) out-boxed, out-hustled, and outclassed a shot and out of shape former world titlist Brandon Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs) in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Bradley put on a boxing clinic against the straightforward brawler and ended up knocking him out with a multitude of body shots in the ninth round. Bradley displayed immense defensive skill I have never seen in his previous fights. Amazing what seven weeks with one of the greatest boxing trainers on earth could do. That trainer is Theodore “Teddy” Atlas.

Teddy agreed to train Bradley after swearing he would never return to work with fighters after a brief stint with former heavyweight Titlist Alexander Povetkin a few years ago. Teddy is most widely known these days for being an exceptional boxing commentator. In fact, he's one of the best in the business. Although prior to putting on the headset and preaching the gospel of the sweet science, Teddy trained several fighters most notably heavyweight champions Michael Moorer and Mike Tyson.

Teddy is a true boxing savant who teaches the true essence of "hit and not gets hit.” Teddy has a huge emphasis on defense. Teddy is an outspoken trainer who is not shy about harping on his boxers to maintain discipline and focus throughout the fight. A classic Teddy moment is when he told Michael Moorer to stand up from his stool in between rounds during a championship fight against the great Evander Holyfield. Teddy decided to sit on the stool and tear Moorer a new one in an attempt to motivate him. Teddy is still the same emotional and passionate Teddy, as he was on full display in the corner of Bradley.

Although I saw something very unique about the demeanor of Bradley when Teddy was feeding him information in the corner. Bradley was wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Teddy had Bradley’s full attention and he hung on every word Teddy said.

A trainer/fighter relationship in combat sports is crucial. Like any important relationship, in life, the pair has to work well with one another. There have to be open lines of communication, transparency, and most of all trust. A fighter depends on the trainer to guide him through the unforgiving sport, not only in the corner but throughout training camp. If the fighter can not depend on his trainer, the consequence could be deadly..literally. The trainer is a teacher, friend, motivator, and even a therapist. The trainer has to be there day in and day out, is just as committed as the fighter.

There have been many examples of phenomenal fighter/trainer pairings. Examples such as Dundee/Ali, D’amato/Tyson, Stewart/Hearns, Stewart/Klitschko, Roach/Pacquiao, and Mcgirt/Gatti. Of course, you can't forget about the father and son duos such as the Trinidads, the Calzaghe's, the Mosleyses, and last but not the least, the Mayweathers.

The boxing world is now comparing the chemistry that Teddy and Bradley have to the great chemistry Roach and Cotto have after only one fight. Teddy is now even calling out Mayweather. Although I do agree Bradley looked excellent against Rios, Teddy should give his fighter a fight or two to get accustomed to him before stepping in with the "retired" pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

So in due time, we can only hope this is another phenomenal fighter/trainer pairing that will be remembered for a long time.

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