UNCASVILLE, Conn.—Teddy Atlas tells Breitbart Sports not to expect Ali-Frazier III when two similarly long-of-tooth fighters enter the ring on May 2.
“Both guys were a little shot, Ali and Frazier, really, and that’s what made a great fight, and a destructive fight, and a damaging fight for both fighters, where they left that ring in Manila with less of themselves,” Atlas says of the classic 1975 bout. “Great theater, great drama, but, being that they weren’t the athletes that they used to be, great damage was done that night. And yeah, it can sometimes make for a fight, if you consider that a great fight, where it’s also a brutal fight. And that was a brutal fight.”
The silver lining some boxing fans see in 36-year-old Manny Pacquiao facing 38-year-old Floyd Mayweather five years past their primes is that aged fighters, less elusive but still able to throw, have been known to provide more engaging, entertaining fights, such as Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier in 1975 or the 1989 rematch between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“These guys aren’t at that place yet,” Atlas told Breitbart Sports after a recent broadcast of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. “Is it six years, five years too late? Yeah, it is—beyond their prime. But they aren’t at the place Ali and Frazier were at.”
Mayweather, employing the shoulder roll, his legs, and a pot-shotting offense, sometimes bores casual fans by resorting to point fighting. Pacquiao, enjoying exceptional knockout power during his prime and a pressure, crowd-pleasing style, aims to put opponents rather than audiences to sleep. With the Filipino failing to knock out an opponent in more than five years, and the American taking punches against Marcos Maidana that he might have eluded as a younger man, fans wonder just what kind of a fight they will see on May 2.
Atlas, who trained Michael Moore to the linear heavyweight championship in the 1990s, concedes that Pac Man and Money fight a few rungs down from their peak. But he nonetheless considers them elite fighters at this stage of their careers.
“Floyd’s still not that easy to hit,” Atlas points out. “Manny still has speed and quick feet.”