Atlas stands firm, won't train Povetkin

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
2:11
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Teddy Atlas is gainfully employed by ESPN to be its analyst for "Friday Night Fights." And while the FNF season runs, the Staten Island-based trainer makes sure he sticks close to home so he can call fights for the Worldwide Leader. Atlas is pretty darned sure that he communicated this to his client, WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin. Atlas has been training the Russian for 2½ years, and helped mold him to the point that he fought Ruslan Chagaev in August for a vacant belt and won it. So he thought he had a decent line of communication with the 32-year-old boxer. Not anymore.

Atlas won't train Povetkin for his next bout, which will take place Feb. 25 against cruiserweight Marco Huck in Germany. Atlas is miffed that Povetkin won't come to the U.S. to train so that Atlas can continue his work for ESPN. Atlas maintains that the terms of the training arrangement are explicitly worded in a contract. "Our agreement from the beginning has been that I would go to Russia to train Sasha [Povetkin] when 'Friday Night Fights' was off season, and he would come to the United States to train when I was committed to being here for my ESPN duties," Atlas explained. "That was what we both agreed to, and both sides know it. I have an obligation to ESPN that I have to fulfill, and I intend to fulfill it. Povetkin has an obligation, too, but I'm being told he doesn't want to come to the U.S. I had expected him to live up to his obligation and am very disappointed in Sasha."

Povetkin's manager, Vlad Hrunov, was quoted five days ago on the subject of Atlas and Povetkin and where the fighter will train.

"It is Teddy Atlas' opinion and Teddy Atlas' choice -- we are awaiting him in Russia," Hrunov told BoxRec.com. "We have a possibility to make an agreement because we are ready to pay a concession because he lose the ESPN money. He knows very well this possibility, but he wants to make [the] decision that he wants."

It looks like a standoff here. Stay tuned to see if anyone blinks. I'm guessing Atlas won't. He's not the blinking type. What about you, readers?
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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