In chatting with Teddy Atlas the other day, I was most interested in what he had planned for his annual "Teddy Dinner," the fundraiser-gala he holds on Staten Island every year, which helps him raise money which is dispensed to people in need, who have been walloped by bad luck, or a frayed safety net, or both.
That jubilee, which always manages to make me feel a bit better about this frequently callous and ludicrous planet of ours, unfolds tonight, Thursday night. You can call the Foundation if you want to attend.
While I had Atlas on the line, I asked him how he thought the Saturday welterweight showdown between Manny Pacquaio and Brandon Rios would unfold. Pacman, a Congressman in the Philippines, looks to break a two-fight losing streak, and bounce back after being bounced to the mat and counted out in his last fight, against rival for the ages Juan Manuel Marquez, last December.
Atlas, as is his way, summed up his take with trademark directness. "Rios is there to bring Pacquiao back," he said. "He's a little bit of a name, people recognize it, there's some some credibilty there. He's also there because even if you close your eyes you can't miss him, he's sort of slow and predictable. He's a tough kid, can punch a little ... If Pacquiao is what he's supposed to be, Manny sweeps the room with him. Manny is too fast, too versatile, too swift, all those things ... but there's one potential problem, one giant fly in the ointment ... if Pacquiao doesn't have a belief in himself, if there are still ghosts present from his last fight in the ring with him, then Rios can be a nightmare. If Rios can survive, and he might get chewed up, let's face it, he's not a real developed fighter, he gets insulted if you miss him, if he can bring ghosts and doubts into the mind of Pacquiao, it could be nightmare for Pacquiao."
So, can Atlas hazard a guess what sort of Manny shows up in Macau?
"Nobody knows," he said. "Pacquiao does not know if he's OK. Last time he was laying face down at the end of the night. We won't know till the fight take place, that is the X factor. Yes, Rios is there to be the right guy, he's easy to hit, he's slow, Pacquiao is light years faster, yes, Pacquiao should tattoo him, yes, there's a chance mentally and emotionally Pacquiao is a shell of himself, or becomes a shell during fight. It will be interesting."