Legendary coach and analyst, Teddy Atlas, recently revealed on his podcast THE FIGHT that Ngannou’s people had reached out to have him train “The Predator” for the fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ... only to learn through his son that they’d gone another direction.
To say he was a bit miffed would be an understatement.
“I’m no saint or monk with this stuff,” Atlas said. “But, I’m not gonna train somebody unless I wanna be around them, I think they’re a good person, I think I can coach them, they’re coachable, and that I think I can help them. I’m just not gonna. So, obviously, my way, you know my way: I’m gonna spend a couple days with you, that’s the deal, and it’s gonna be a trial period. I’m not gonna say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ until I go through the trial period and see if I wanna work with you and see if you can work with me. It’s fair for you, too.
“They had talked about that, they understood that,” he continued. “They talked about me coming out to Vegas to spend those couple days. And all nice people. We’d done a video that got millions of hits a couple years ago where I trained them, they asked me to train ‘em in Vegas and I did it ... They call me back and said, ‘Let’s get the dates that you can come out now and we can do this trial period and we’ll get back to you.’
“The next day — I don’t look at the Internet stuff — my son sends me a thing announcing that they’re getting Mike Tyson to train him,” Atlas added. “Hey, God bless, great, I’m sure it’s going to get them some extra PPV buys at the very least and Tyson is a tremendous guy. And Ngannou is infatuated by him. He’s obsessed with Tyson. He wanted me to show him how to throw the Tyson uppercut, which I did.
“But obviously, you made that deal with Tyson and you’re asking me to go out to Vegas to do a trial, Atlas continued. “Why don’t you be upfront with me? It just don’t feel good — it just doesn’t feel good. I hate to be — I’m not crying, but I guess what I’m saying is, can’t we be better as people? I know money is money and it’s important, but isn’t it important to treat people right? Isn’t it important to keep your word?
“And again, they’re nice people, but when you’re tempted by these things, isn’t it then that it’s most important to show those characteristics, those traits. Just decency, just honesty, just being upfront, just being decent with your fellow human beings? Don’t ask me about coming out and traveling when you know you made a deal with somebody already. Then it’s gotta feel like you’re just bringing me out to pick my brain knowing you’re already going another direction. Which is your prerogative. Fine. Probably the right direction because it makes sense to them. But, be up front.”
Maybe Team Ngannou had hoped to get both Tyson and Atlas to provide services for the Fury fight. Lord knows Francis needs all the help he can get taking on the top dog in Heavyweight boxing. And Atlas seems to have an understanding of exactly why UFC’s former Heavyweight champion needs to defeat Fury.
“If he can’t land the big punch, I don’t care if he punches like freaking Godzilla,” Atlas had said in an earlier interview with Daniel Cormier. “It doesn’t matter unless he has a delivery system, enough fundamentals. We’re not fooling ourselves, he ain’t going to get to Fury’s level. But, enough fundamentals, enough tricks, give him a couple tricks in the bag, to land that big punch.”
Now, Ngannou will have to hope Tyson is serious and available enough over the coming months to help him develop those delivery systems for his one big punch to land. It all just puts a bit more credence on UFC President Dana White’s claims that “The Predator” is difficult to work with.
For complete Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou news and notes click here.