TEDDY ATLAS, the trainer of Timothy Bradley, has described his charge as being “like a 32-year-old son to [him],” in the lead-up to the Californian welterweight’s rubber match with Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao this Saturday (April 9) in Las Vegas. As with any ‘father-son’ relationship, Atlas feels solely responsible for Bradley when the two-weight world titlist steps into the ring.
“I have a responsibility for Timmy, and I care about him as a human being,” Teddy said. “It’s very much like being a parent again. He’s doing something risky, and I have to guide him and make sure he gets through it OK. It is what it is, but that’s what keeps me up at night. Have I done what I need to do to prepare my fighter? Will I fail him?”
The fear of letting Bradley down clearly rankles Atlas, as the New Yorker has built up a tight professional and personal bond with Timothy since becoming his coach in September last year. Teddy pinpointed trust as the key to their close relationship.
“To be a decent trainer, you have to care about what you do, and you have to have an experience and background in what you do,” Atlas stated. “You also need a really good student and athlete – someone who has skills, intellect, mental awareness and toughness. Above all else though, you have to have trust. Pure trust is a beautiful thing. When you have someone who says to you, ‘Whatever you say, I’ll follow,’ as a trainer, you better be right in what you teach, you better fricking be right.”
The affinity between the pair is such that Atlas does not feel the need for a traditional signed contract. In fact, he prefers working on a fight-by-fight basis with Bradley, so that he can judge his condition after each contest, and thus decide whether he would be wise to continue in the sport.
In response to the suggestion that Bradley has shipped some significant punishment in some of his previous bouts, Teddy declared: “I’m not concerned [about the punishing fights Bradley has been involved in in the past], because he looks good. When we first started this relationship, the easiest thing to do would’ve been to do a long-term contract, but I only did a one-fight contract. A lot of people didn’t understand that. It obviously wasn’t a smart business thing to do, but for me, it was the proper human thing to do. I want to be able to evaluate him on a fight-by-fight basis, to make sure it’s worth him continuing after each fight. I feel now, we don’t need any [contracts], I don’t even care about that stuff.”
In order to possibly prolong Bradley’s career and protect him from suffering any unnecessary physical damage during training, Atlas insists on Timothy and his sparring partners wearing highly padded gloves in the gym.
“I use 18oz gloves,” Teddy revealed. “Nobody else seems to use 18oz gloves anymore. Everybody thinks I do it for conditioning reasons – so the hands feel a lot lighter when you drop down to 8oz gloves in the actual fight – but I don’t do it because of that. The reason I do it is because I want to lessen the impact of punches in the gym.”