Teddy Atlas is ready for another ‘Fireman Speech’ for Pacquiao-Bradley
Who knows if Angelo Dundee ever practiced the line, “You’re blowing it now, son!” before he said it to Sugar Ray Leonard after the 12th round in their 1981 fight with Thomas Hearns?
But trainer Teddy Atlas admitted to RingTV.com that when he uttered the now famous “We are firemen!” speech to Timothy Bradley in his victory over Brandon Rios in November, it was not some spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff line. No, he actually rehearsed the pep talk weeks earlier in training camp.
Along with preparing his fighters, Atlas confessed that he also practices what he might say in between rounds to light a fuse. Like a comedian testing out new material at a dingy club to see what lines work, Atlas, who also works as a boxing commentator, acknowledged those madcap speeches he says in the corner that have made him famous are prepared ahead of time.
“I always believe in having some kind of mantra, where you want to have a philosophy for a fight,” Atlas said in a phone interview last week as he readied Bradley to face Manny Pacquiao for a third time on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO PPV.
Atlas’ histrionics in between rounds are well documented. There’s Atlas sitting on the stool in Michael Moorer’s corner during his 1994 heavyweight championship with Evander Holyfield. Upset with his effort, Atlas howled, “You’re going to cry tomorrow. Do you want to cry tomorrow?” To which Moore, replied, “No” and won the fight.
There was Atlas talking to Alexander Povetkin through a translator in his heavyweight title fight in 2011 against Ruslan Chagaev. One incredible moment had Atlas invoking Povetkin’s father, who died in 2010. “Do you believe in magic?” Atlas said. “Sometimes we can bring people that left us back. We can bring your father back tonight. You know why? Because they’re going to talk about their son as a new world champion.”
Atlas’ fiery speech on firemen easily fits into that canon. In a speech that can best be described as inspirational, cheesy, jolting and entertaining, Atlas leaned into a startled-looking Bradley after the seventh round and launched into one of the most extraordinary rants ever made in a span of 60 seconds.
“The fire is coming,” Atlas barked in his first bout training Bradley. “Are you ready for the fire? We are firemen! We are firemen! The heat doesn’t bother us! We live in the heat. We train in the heat. It tells us we’re ready. We’re right at home. Flames don’t intimidate us. What do we do? We control the Flame! We control them! We move the flame! And then we extinguish them!”
Atlas said in the course of preparing Bradley for Rios last year, he reflected onÔÇªflames. “I thought about in the Rios fight, I thought about fire,” he said. “I did. I just thought about it. I actually said it in training a few times to Timmy, those words. So I thought about, ‘We have to go through fire. We’re going to have to go through fire. There are going to be spots when we’re going to have to go through fire.’ And so I would think about and I would take walks sometimes by myself after the training and I would assess the workout for the day and I would assess where we were in camp at that point.”
Atlas would think ahead to the fight if there was a place for some of his expressions.
“I had formed a pretty solid idea (of what I would say),” Atlas said. “When the moment came- and I already knew when it would come- it would come later in the fight because that’s when the fire is going to come. And so I had already prepared myself for what I would need to be ready to do to help my fighter in the scenario that made sense.”
Atlas said he has some prose ready for the Pacquiao bout next month in case Bradley is in need of an emotional-pick-me-up. And what’s the premise for this fight? “It’s about the log in the ocean,” he said without elaborating. “That’s the theme for this camp.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the NY Daily News. He can be reached at: [email protected] and on Twitter at @Mabramson13.