By Ricardo Conde
Fight trainer and ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” commentator Teddy Atlas is preparing his fighter IBF/WBO #1 heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin (19-0, 14 KOs) of Russia who returns to the ring to take on IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (54-3, 48 KOs) of Ukraine on Saturday, September 11th at the 55,000-seat Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany in a 12-round heavyweight bout which is being presented by K2 Promotions. We recently caught up with Teddy Atlas as he helps prepare Alexander Povetkin for his upcoming bout to get his take on the fight, the latest on his foundation, and more, here’s what he had to say.
Wladimir Klitschko hasn’t lost since 2004 and being the most dominate fighter in the heavyweight division for the last six years, what are some of the things you’ve noticed that will be key to defeating someone like that and what’s your opinion of him?
I know he’s been winning the last six years, he knows how to use his size and his reach. He keeps you at a distance that’s bad for you and good for him and he always looks to hit you with the right hand and he keeps himself away from the areas he’s not good at and on the inside he grabs you. He’s very consistent at using those physical aspects of height and reach. Right now he’s in a good place mentally and its going to be a very tough task to make sure that he’s not able to use those advantages with us and to take them away from him and put him in a place that he’s not comfortable, its going to be a real challenge. He’s a great world champion and he’ll be our toughest opponent to date.
With the fight scheduled until mid September, have you began training camp and if so, what are some of the things you’re working on with Alexander to help prepare him for this fight?
We’re in training camp right now and what I’ll do is I’m going to work on making Alexander a better fighter, so that comes first. We’re working on things that can be better from his last fight and we’re always working on things that can make him more dependable, more consistent and more effective. Those are the things we’re working on, from there we’re working on things that will obviously make sense against Wladimir Klitschko, things that will take those advantages that Klitschko has and hopefully negate them. We’ll try to exploit the weaknesses of Klitschko and try to eliminate the strengths and find a way to get around his strengths.
You and Alexander Povetkin have a very tough assignment on September 11th, but should you get past Wladimir Klitschko, who would you like to see your fighter face next?
I’m not thinking that far down the road, this is a tremendous task we have in front of us. I’m not even thinking like the promoters are thinking, like those guys think about just getting my fighter to a title fight or to a money fight. I’m thinking about how can I make my fighter better, can I make him better, with more time, with more teaching, with more time in the gym, with more experience, can I make him better, and the answer is yes. So how do I do that, how do I look out for my fighter, be responsible for my fighter and make my fighter a better, more effective athlete and performer in the ring, that’s what I’m thinking about.
For some people that are not aware of your foundation, can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, every day of the year, every single day is helping people in need and I get scared sometimes because we still have so much to do out there. Last year we gave out over $450,000 in help directly to people who need help, whether it’s a ramp that needs to be put on a house of a crippled child or whether its paying for the cancer treatment of a child because the insurance stopped or flying a child out of state to get a better program that they can’t get in their area and paying for the travel to do that or making sure that a single mom who is working and trying but things have become to much and doesn’t get put into a shelter with her four children and we’re able to put her into an apartment where its more conducive to the environment that she needs for her children. So we’re doing that everyday and thank God for all the good people that helps us get the resources to do that. I get nervous sometimes because the demand for help is increasing and out ability to continue doing it is always a challenge but thank God we’ve been able to do it and I promise we’ll continue to do it as long as we can, so I thank everyone for all their help especially everyone in the boxing community who’s helped and supported us.
For those that are interested in helping out with the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, how can they help?
Thank you for asking that, that’s very nice of you, thank you so much. The Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation can be reached at www.dratlasfoundation.com; 718-980-7037 is the number to the office, that’s how people can find a way to make a donation that they want to.