He is beloved by many fight fans for his candid discharges of opinion, for his combustability, his most righteous combustability, when the judges go off the rails, as they so sadly and periodically do, on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights Series.”
So when the rumor mill was churning out noise that ESPN was going to dump the 17-year-old FNF, and replace it with fare put together by Al Haymon, as part of his Premier Boxing Champions series, Teddy fans worried that their guy was going to hit the bricks.
Have no fear, friends, the passionate rooter for straight shooting in this sometimes crooked game, Atlas, will stay aboard ESPN’s boxing platform, along with long-time partner, blow by blow man Joe Tessitore. I checked in with Atlas, and asked for his reaction to the news, that FNF will cease May 22, and that PBC on ESPN and ABC will kick off July 11.
“I’ve known awhile, so I had time to digest the idea,” the Staten Island resident, who was a disciple of the crusty tutor to Mike Tyson, Cus D’Amato, told me. “It’s the direction, the new era of boxing, and part of the impact Al Haymon is having on the business. It’s a monumental, historic step, and I think it’s an exciting time for the sport and for the fans.”
Atlas noted that this deal means better bouts will be on primetime, on ESPN, not relegated to ESPN2, and on ABC; this is basically a return, the deal-makers hope, to the past, when that occurred on the networks. “This deal has you calling me and a lot of other guys and that’s positive, it means boxing is relevant again, and people are talking about it in the mainstream,” continued the sometimes trainer, who runs a successful charitable organization which honors his father, a physician.
I shared with Atlas that I simply like to see the best fighting the best, coin-flip fights, on every and all platforms, supplied by any and all providers. As long as that happens, all in all, I’m basically happy, though I’m cognizant of the game-changing nature of the time buy model used by Haymon, who has a war chest incomparable. (Thought maybe Jay Z is in the same ballpark…)
“We have to see what the future holds, like with anything,” he said, in agreement with my stated desire for even matches. “Will it pass the test of time? My initial reaction is that it’s a hopeful, positive, exciting time. If we have evenly matched fights, which is what is being projected and promised, if that truly turns out to be the case, then it will pass the test of time.”
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