Tim Bradley and Teddy Atlas, a perfect marriage?
It was as if the worlds of Rocky and The Notebook collided when Timothy Bradley and Teddy Atlas addressed a small room of reporters on Thursday. The session was ripe with heartfelt anecdotes of trust and what appears to be a long lasting relationship between two souls that never expected to be working with one another.
Bradley had separated with his longtime trainer Joel Diaz after a 10-year union that included a few world titles and a lot of money made. But the relationship had become stagnant and Bradley needed a change of scenery. As for Atlas, he was the lauded trainer who no longer found the fun in his job and resorted to a gig offering colorful commentary for ESPN.
And then the two crossed paths and the rest has been a blissful seven weeks that will culminate in Bradley trying to punch Rios senseless on HBO tonight. Yes, the sweetness will end in savagery. But on this day, Atlas and Bradley were like a pair of wandering souls who had found just what they needed in one another.
“This is the best (interview) I have ever been a part of,” Bob Arum said with a smile from the back of the room where a small group of reporters gathered to discuss Bradley and Atlas’ union. It was almost as if you could see Arum become misty eyed as the words fell from his mouth. Even longtime publicist Lee Samuels gushed over the love being spread in the room.
But despite all the talk of Atlas being immediately welcomed into the Bradley family with open arms, which included a bouquet of flowers for Bradley’s wife as a gift and the taming of the boxer’s usually rowdy dogs, Atlas knew that before his addition to Team Bradley could be deemed as a success, he would need to help guide his fighter to victory against Rios.”
“Nothing matters except what happens on Saturday night,” Atlas deadpanned. “That’s the stern unforgiving truth of this business.”
Atlas was quick to credit the work that Joel Diaz had already put in to help cultivate Bradley and was aware that he had the easy job of refining the tools that his fighter already possessed.
“He’s had good training and Joel Diaz deserves credit because he did a great job and helped him win those world titles,” the 59-year-old veteran said. But the credit didn’t stop there. Atlas believes that a great fighter’s biggest attribute comes from his experiences at home.
“His parents did their job too. Where do you think his character came from? It didn’t just show up in a gym,” Atlas said. “It’s the years that you didn’t know about at home with his mother and father and what they instilled in him. Those traits and attributes where you don’t give up, respect what you’re doing and honest about what you’re doing. His main training has already been put in place. I have the easy job.”
Bradley talked in great detail about how his new trainer has pointed out a number of flaws that needed patching. He gushed over Atlas’ vast knowledge of the sport and appeared to be rejuvenated heading into Saturday’s showdown with Rios.
“I’m trying to refine and not reinvent Tim Bradley,” the WBO welterweight titleholder said. “I’ve accomplished a lot in boxing but I know I can get better.”
But the biggest attribute that Bradley has gravitated towards in Atlas – the man who guided Michael Moorer to a world heavyweight title in 1994 – is his brutal honesty.
“Honesty is a big thing with me and that’s why it works for us,” Bradley said. “He knows when I’m doing something wrong and I respect when he tells me. He’s a perfectionist. Some people can’t take honesty and that’s what he offers and I appreciate that.”
Atlas is reciprocal in his assessment of Bradley and cited that Desert Storm is one of those fighters who Atlas wouldn’t have to worry about questioning his methods.
“He’s the easiest guy I ever worked with,” Atlas said. “Whatever I’ve been able to do I’ve been able to do because of him. He’s very intelligent, has the character, the intestinal fortitude and the qualities to be a champion. He’s able to put his ego aside and admit he still has more to learn. Not everyone is honest enough to say that.”
And outside the ring? Atlas is even more impressed with his fighter’s demeanor.
“The best thing I knew about him was that there was nothing bad that I knew,” he said. “I never saw him tarnish the sport. I never knew anything that would embarrass him. But until I spent three days with him, I didn’t know the kind of person that I know now and how he became this way.
But ultimately, Atlas believes that trust is the biggest hurdle the two will have to leap over on Saturday night.
“Once you gain his trust, you better not be wrong.”