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Povetkin-Chagaev: Atlas Bears The Weight Of The World…Raskin

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By Eric Raskin

Alexander Povetkin lives and trains in the city of Chekhov, Russia, which is appropriate because his boxing career is in danger of violating the principle of “Chekhov’s gun.” Named after playwright and short-story writer Anton Chekhov, this rule states that any object introduced into a piece of fiction must be used later on; otherwise, it shouldn’t have appeared in the first place. To paraphrase Chekhov, if the audience sees a gun in Act One, it should be fired by Act Three.

Teddy Atlas is not a gun. (Though he is a threat to go off at any time.) The veteran trainer was introduced to the Povetkin narrative in June 2009, when the Russian was already a top-rated heavyweight contender (ranked number two by The Ring magazine, behind only champion Wladimir Klitschko and his big brother Vitali) and a mandatory challenger in one alphabet group’s rankings. Two years later, Povetkin has gone absolutely nowhere. Atlas entered the picture, Povetkin fought Leo Nolan, Javier Mora, Teke Oruh, and Nicolai Firtha—collectively known as The Four (Trial)Horsemen—Atlas and Povetkin passed on a seven-figure payday against Wladimir for the legit championship, and here we stand, some 26 months after the Atlas-Povetkin union began, still waiting for someone to pull the trigger.

This Saturday, it will get squeezed. Sort of. It depends if you consider winning a fight that returns you to the status you held two years ago to be a form of progress.

Povetkin is facing Ruslan Chagaev, also a top-five contender under today’s depressing heavyweight standards, and the bout has meaning: Assuming Vitali Klitschko beats Tomasz Adamek in September; the Povetkin-Chagaev winner will stand out as the most deserving of the next shot at a Klitschko. Maybe 10 years ago, a fight between heavyweights of this pedigree wouldn’t have meant much. (In The Ring ratings for August 2001, Chris Byrd was the number-10 contender; are either Povetkin or Chagaev better and/or more worthy of a high ranking than 2001-vintage Chris Byrd?) But it’s not 2001. It’s 2011. And revolting though it may be, this fight elevates the winner to a position of importance.

There’s a lot on the line for Povetkin. There’s a lot on the line for Chagaev.

But it just might be that Atlas has more on the line than either of them.

This is Povetkin’s first real fight since teaming up with Atlas, and if he doesn’t win it, then Atlas will be guilty of giving some of the worst career advice in boxing history.

In the summer of 2010, after two fights with Atlas in his corner, Povetkin’s mandatory shot at Wladimir was due. On Atlas’ urging, and against the advice of other members of his management team, Povetkin pushed the opportunity off. Atlas explained that his goal wasn’t just to have Povetkin fight Klitschko, but to have Povetkin ready to defeat Klitschko, and he needed more time with his 2004 Olympic gold medalist to do that. It was a risky but rather admirable approach. Here’s what Atlas told me in July 2010:

“As a trainer, as a teacher who’s involved in developing somebody at a certain stage in their career—and this stage has been about a year now—you get involved and there’s work to be done and there’s development to be done and you see the development. And you see the work being done. And you see what you’ve envisioned, some growth in certain directions and in the fighter as a whole. And you have a good pupil, you have a kid that’s a great, great kid. What do you want as a teacher? You want more time. As honest as I can be, you want more time, and if you don’t say that, you’re not being cognizant of the things that you should be cognizant of, you’re not being real, you’re not being responsible, and then you’re not being honest. But as a trainer, as a teacher, that’s all I’m looking at. I’m not looking at it as a promoter. I’m not looking at it in those other dimensions. And I understand those other dimensions. But I’m just looking at it in my dimension. And to me, time is an asset. It’s valuable. It’s a commodity that’s not always available in the degrees that you want it to be available. So right now, I see what we’re going to do and what it is that we need to do and I will act accordingly.”

Sure, it took Teddy 235 words to say what could have been said in about 25. But the point he was making was valid. And his motivation was unique in a business in which almost everybody else focuses on the fastest way to make a buck.

But now, after a second year of making no publicly visible, professional progress, Povetkin must show that he has made a leap under Atlas’ tutelage and become a better, more dangerous fighter. If he beats Chagaev impressively and positions himself for that massive payday against a Klitschko—perhaps even convincing some observers that he’ll be a live underdog—then the Atlas way is redeemed. If he wins unimpressively, looking no better than he did prior to hooking up with Atlas, then these will feel like two wasted years in his physical prime.

And if he loses to Chagaev, then Povetkin will hear comparisons to Tommy Morrison blowing it all in a needless tune-up against Michael Bentt, the classic example of releasing the bird in the hand and ending up with an eyeful of bird droppings.

Atlas doesn’t rely on training fighters to pay his bills these days. Since 1998, he’s been the color analyst for ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, a steady gig if not one that allows him to buy yachts and Maybachs. Training is something he does on the side, if at all. So maybe he’s reached a point where he’s okay with the training business drying up.

If Povetkin loses, he’d better be okay with it. Atlas’ days as a sought-after coach for established fighters will end instantly if the only project in which he’s seriously involved himself over the last several years turns out to be not just a bust, but a bust where the blood is on Atlas’ hands.

That’s a lot of pressure on Teddy Atlas. And maybe he wants that pressure. Maybe that pressure will inspire greatness from both Povetkin and his trainer and something spectacular will happen on Saturday night that leaves fans clamoring for Klitschko-Povetkin in early 2012.

All we know for sure heading into Saturday’s fight is that we’ve reached the scene in which Chekhov’s gun stops being a lifeless prop and plays a role in the conflict. If Atlas is the gun, Povetkin is the man firing it. And Atlas had better hope his man can aim straight.

 

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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Haney-Garcia Redux with the Focus on Harvey Dock

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Saturday’s skirmish between Ryan Garcia and WBC super lightweight champion Devin Haney was a messy affair, and yet a hugely entertaining fight fused with great drama. In the aftermath, Garcia and Haney were celebrated – the former for fooling all the experts and the latter for his gallant performance in a losing effort – but there were only brickbats for the third man in the ring, referee Harvey Dock.

Devin Haney was plainly ahead heading into the seventh frame when there was a sudden turnabout when Garcia put him on the canvas with his vaunted left hook. Moments later, Dock deducted a point from Garcia for a late punch coming out of a break. The deduction forced a temporary cease-fire that gave Haney a few precious seconds to regain his faculties. Before the round was over, Haney was on the deck twice more but these were ruled slips.

The deduction, which effectively negated the knockdown, struck many as too heavy-handed as Dock hadn’t previously issued a warning for this infraction. Moreover, many thought he could have taken a point away from Haney for excessive clinching. As for Haney’s second and third trips to the canvas in round seven, they struck this reporter – watching at home – as borderline, sufficient to give referee Dock the benefit of the doubt.

In a post-fight interview, Ryan Garcia faulted the referee for denying him the satisfaction of a TKO. “At the end of the day, Harvey Dock, I think he was tripping,” said Garcia. “He could have stopped that fight.”

Those that played the rounds proposition, placing their coin on the “under,” undoubtedly felt the same way.

The internet lit up with comments assailing Dock’s competence and/or his character. Some of the ponderings were whimsical, but they were swamped by the scurrilous screeching of dolts who find a conspiracy under every rock.

Stephen A. Smith, reputedly America’s highest-paid TV sports personality, was among those that felt a need to weigh-in: “This referee is absolutely terrible….Unreal! Horrible officiating,” tweeted Stephen A whose primary area of expertise is basketball.

Harvey Dock

Dock fought as an amateur and had one professional fight, winning a four-round decision over a fellow novice on a show at a non-gaming resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He says that as an amateur he was merely average, but he was better than that, a New Jersey and regional amateur champion in 1993 and 1994 while a student New Jersey’s Essex County Community College where he majored in journalism.

A passionate fan of Sugar Ray Leonard, he started officiating amateur fights in 1998 and six years later, at age 32, had his first documented action at the professional level, working low-level cards in New Jersey. The top boxing referees, to a far greater extent than the top judges, had long apprenticeships, having worked their way up from the boonies and Dock is no exception.

Per boxrec, Haney vs Garcia was Harvey Dock’s 364th assignment in the pros and his forty-second world title fight. Some of those title fights were title in name only, they weren’t even main events, but, bit by bit, more lucrative offerings started coming his way.

On May 13, 2023, Dock worked his first fights in Nevada, a 4-rounder and then a 12-rounder on a card at the Cosmopolitan topped by the 140-pound title fight between Rolly Romero and Ismael Barroso. It was the first time that this reporter got to watch Dock in the flesh.

Ironically (in hindsight), the card would be remembered for the actions of a referee, in this case Tony Weeks who handled the main event. Barroso was winning the fight on all three cards when Weeks stepped in and waived it off in the ninth round after Romero cornered Barroso against the ropes and let loose a barrage of punches, none of which landed cleanly. Few “premature stoppages” were ever as garishly, nay ghoulishly, premature.

With all the brickbats raining down on Weeks, I felt a need to tamp down the noise by diverting attention away from Tony Weeks and toward Harvey Dock and took to the TSS Forum to share my thoughts. Referencing the 12-rounder, a robust junior welterweight affair between Batyr Akhmedov and Kenneth Sims Jr, I noted that Dock’s Las Vegas debut went smoothly. He glided effortlessly around the ring, making him inconspicuous, the mark of a good referee. (This post ran on May 15, two days after the fight.)

Folks at the Nevada State Athletic Commission were also paying attention. Dock was back in Las Vegas the following week to referee the lightweight title fight between Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko and before the year was out, he would be tabbed to referee the biggest non-heavyweight fight of the year, the July 29 match in Las Vegas between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

The Haney-Garcia fight wasn’t Harvey Dock’s best hour, I’ll concede that, but a closer look at his full body of work informs us that he is an outstanding referee.

While the Haney-Garcia bout was in progress, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman threw everyone a curve ball, tweeting on “X” that Devin Haney would keep his title if he lost the fight. Everyone, including the TV commentators, was under the impression that the title would become vacant in the event that Haney lost.

Sulaiman cited the precedent of Corrales-Castillo II.

FYI: The Corrales-Castillo rematch, originally scheduled for June 3, 2005 and aborted on the day prior when Castillo failed to make weight, finally came off on Oct. 8 of that year, notwithstanding the fact that Castillo failed to make weight once again, scaling three-and-a-half pounds above the lightweight limit. He knocked out Corrales in the fourth round with a left hook that Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole, alluding to the movie “Blazing Saddles,” described as Mongo-esque (translation: the punch would have knocked out a horse). After initially insisting on a rubber match, which had scant chance of happening, WBC president Jose Sulaiman, Mauricio’s late father, ruled that Corrales could keep his title.

Whether or not you agree with Mauricio Sulaiman’s rationale, the timing of his announcement was certainly awkward.

Haney’s mandatory is Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (42-3, 15 KOs), a cutie best known for his 2021 upset of Mikey Garcia. A bout between Haney and Martin has the earmarks of a dull fight.

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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