Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teddy Atlas in Russia Evaluating Povetkin

Atlas (pictured above) autographing a boxing glove while at a book signing, is currently in Russia working with heavyweight Alexander Povetkin.

Renowned trainer Teddy Atlas is currently in Russia evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of highly rated, 29-year-old heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin who has a record of 17-0, 12KOs.

Atlas arrived in Moscow over the weekend. He is going to work with Povetkin for the next week-and-a-half to determine whether he feels he can develop the skills of the 2004 Olympic games gold medal winner.

Atlas is known as a demanding task master and he has walked away from several big name heavyweights in the past who have not followed his strict doctrine. Chief among them were Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Michael Moorer, Kirk Johnson and Michael Grant.

But after several years away from training fighters while concentrating on his duties with ESPN, Atlas has apparently been swayed by the Povetkin's handlers. The fighter is promoted by Sauerland Events who are based in Germany.

Atlas announced on last weekend's ESPN2 Friday Night Fights that, “Povetkin's people had contacted me a few weeks back and asked me about the possibility of me going out to Moscow to train him. To work with him, to train him for a two week trial period. An evaluation period to see how we would work together, to see whether or not I thought he was coachable and whether or not I think he could pick up certain things where I think he needs to – as far as developing, a little bit, his boxing IQ, so to speak.”

Povetkin has won all of his fights thus far. It may become Atlas' job to steer him to the heavyweight championship.

After winning an Olympic medal in Athens, Greece in 2004, Povetkin took nearly a year off to decide his professional future. After weighing multiple offers from several high-profile promotional firms, he eventually sided with Wilfred Sauerland. Part of the way that deal is structured is that Povetkin fights primarily in Germany, but he trains in Russia.

While Povetkin has adequately progressed over the past four years (he is the #1 ranked contender by the IBF and WBO and #6 by the WBC) the common belief in the industry is that were he to face either Klitschko brother for one of their titles in his next fight he would likely lose.

It will be Atlas' job to determine whether he believes Povetkin can improve enough in a short amount of time so that he can mount a serious challenge for a heavyweight belt. Sauerland is on record as saying, “We don't want Alexander to simply fight for the championship, we want him to win it.”

Atlas is very familiar with Povetkin's capabilities. He was ringside as a color commentator for the NBC network for all of Povetkin's 2004 Olympic bouts. However, Atlas is not elaborating except to say, “Ive agreed to go out there...I'm going to spend, probably around ten days, in training every day and evaluating what he has to do to get better and working on those things.”

June 2009

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