Saturday, March 24, 2007

Teddy Atlas: Commentator Extraordinaire

My nomination for the greatest commentator in sports today is officially out: Teddy Atlas, ESPN Boxing's color man. Boxing may not have the popularity it once did, but don't tell that to Teddy. His energy and enthusiasm for the sport at every level makes bad fights more interesting and makes good fights great. More than that, though, his knowledge and understanding of the in-ring action is singular. Before the main event each week, Atlas sets up the "fight plan" for each boxer. Acting it out with a partner, he shows what they must do to win and to avoid their opponent. Almost invariably, his prediction mimicks exactly what the winning boxer has done; it's uncanny.

Before going into the booth, Atlas was both a boxer and a trainer, one of Mike Tyson's original trainers, in fact, which lends him the credibility he displays when talking about a fight. But, unlike many color commentators who have been in their respective games (Phil Simms, Tim McCarver, Charles Barkley, for examples), Atlas does not taint the game with stories about his great times in the sport that have little to nothing to do with what is actually going on. It's always refreshing to listen to no nonsense commentary that both enlightens and enriches the game. Unlike some other commentators who are adept at calling multiple sports, I do not wish to see Atlas call a baseball game but, in his element, there is nobody better. Hats off to Teddy Atlas!!