Interview: Teddy Atlas talks about Manny Pacquiao's career, controversial statements and more
One of the biggest upsets in boxing history took place at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia this past July 2nd, as legendary pugilist Manny Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to hometown hero Jeff Horn.
Sportskeeda caught up with the broadcast team at the event for the fight Down Under, and spoke to world-renowned boxing trainer Teddy Atlas, about Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao.
Fans have been accusing Manny Pacquiao of being a part-timer, given the fact that he seems to be focusing on politics more than boxing. Your thoughts?
Teddy Atlas: I don’t know what they’re accusing him of. Don’t they understand that he is a politician and he is a boxer? So, what’s wrong with that? What’s the crime in that?
As long as he’s prepared when he gets in the ring, and he gives his all, and he gives his best efforts, and that’s his choice.
Back in the old days, fighters didn’t make enough money to just fight. Sometimes, they had to work, and then they had to fight; take time off from work. You know, when they got more successful they were able to just fight, but that’s somebody’s option, somebody’s choice. Manny Pacquiao was just a boxer for many years. He got himself to a place now, of success. In his country, he had an opportunity also to be a politician.
He’s not saying he’s not a politician. He’s saying, yes. I’m a Senator for my people. I decided to run for Senate. He ran for Congress first. He did it because he wanted to help the people of his country. He did it because he had an opportunity to do that. And he’s also boxing.
I think he’s a good human being that tries to help people. I think that people should look at that instead of what they look at. Why don’t they look at that? He’s taking the time to try and help people in his country. He’s trying to be what all politicians should be- Someone who looks out for the people. Not a corrupt person who only looks out for themselves, which most politicians are. Let’s be honest. Most politicians are corrupt people, but he’s not.
He (Manny) became a politician not because he needed the money, not because he had to, not because he needed that job, not because he needed power. He had all those things. He did it because he wanted to bring change and make the life of the people in the Philippines better.
Pacquiao is going to retire sooner rather than later. Who do you think he should face to close out his career on a high note?
Teddy Atlas: I think that Pacquiao already has a great career. He’s 38 years old (and) I think that there are a lot of very, very, very tough fighters (and) fights in the Welterweight division. He’s a Welterweight. And, I think that he should be very careful before he fights (inaudible), (Errol) Spence, (Terence) Crawford all those guys. I think he should be very, very careful at this point in his career.
If he wants to fight them and he can win, that’ll be a great way to go out. But I don’t think he has to do that. He’s fought enough big fights that he doesn’t have to do that. I think he can go out his own way. I think he could choose (his opponent). He’s earned the right to choose how he goes out. Maybe he can go out, and he can fight Mikey Garcia. But I think at this point in his career it could be dangerous. He can fight Mikey Garcia which is a very, very difficult fight but a lot less difficult than all those other guys.
Maybe somehow he (Manny) could get Lomachenko to come up (in weight), and he (Manny) can come down. Lomachenko to me is the best fighter in the world right now. Maybe he (Manny) could do that (fight), but again, he doesn’t have to do any of that.
I think the best way for him to go out, at 38 years old, is…I mean no one (fighter) is satisfied. But he knows that he can’t do it at the level that he wants to do it at. He (Manny) can’t perform anymore at the top level.
Again, I don’t think that he has to prove anything at this point. The young pugs (pugilists) in there replace the old. That’s just the way it is.
Manny made a few controversial statements regarding the LGBTI community in the recent past. Do you feel that may have amplified the diminishment of his popularity after his loss to Mayweather?
Teddy Atlas: I’m sure it did with some people. But, I don’t think he (Manny) cares. Because I think Manny Pacquiao is a man of his beliefs and his convictions. I think he’s a person that actually cares about other people. He would never put so much of his money away and his time away to help poor people in his country if he didn’t (care).
He doesn’t have to be a Senator. He could just go off to an island somewhere and spend his money and live the way he wants to live. But he takes a lot of his money, hard-earned money, and he uses it to benefit his people.
I’m sure that (Manny Pacquiao’s comments against the LGBTI community) took away some of his popularity with certain people. But, I’m also sure he doesn’t care. Because he is a man that, you know, anyone who’s strong enough to go into the ring and overcome the way he’s overcome in life…He comes from a poor, poor beginning, and become what he has become; and overcome the things he had to do along the way.
They believe in what they believe in. They don’t get thrown off by other people and what they believe. They live by what they believe. That’s part of their character, that’s part of what makes them successful. And that’s part of what makes them overcome things.
So, I don’t think he cares about what those people think about his thoughts and comments. He only cares about what people that oblige him to care about. He’s got his beliefs, and those beliefs are part of what his strength his, what his overall character is.
I think there’s a lot of people that will criticise him, and say ‘How can he say those things?’ And you know, ‘You’re a bad person to do that.’ But those people they can say all those things, but they don’t go and do the things that he does to help people.
They talk about what a good person should be, but they don’t always live what a good person should live. It’s easy to talk; it’s much harder to do. It’s much harder to live. So, I don’t think Pacquiao could care less about the people that have walked away from liking him. I think he cares about what he cares about, which is helping the poor people in his country. And, a big part of his strengths is his beliefs.
You know Muhammad Ali, people knocked him around for a while. They said ‘Oh, his beliefs are wrong, his beliefs are this…’. And a lot of people didn’t like him because of that. But he stood by those beliefs because that’s what made him strong. Part of those beliefs is what he gained strength from. His religious beliefs, that gave him strength.
I’m sure that Manny Pacquiao’s beliefs give him strength. And just like Ali didn’t let anybody push him away from his beliefs even though they were unfavourable to everybody, I don’t think Pacquiao is going to let anyone push him away from his beliefs.
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