By Dan Ambrose: Teddy Atlas wasn’t pleased about Top Rank feeding the hapless Steven Butler (32-4-1, 26 KOs) to their unbeaten WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9 KOs) last Saturday night at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
The outcome was predictable, with Janibek knocking Butler down three times en route to a second round knockout victory in an event shown live on ESPN.
Atlas didn’t like the match-making by Top Rank, who he feels are trying to make the 2016 Olympian Janibek look like “Godzilla” by feeding him an hors d’oeuvre to wow the unsuspecting fans, who don’t know a planned mismatch when seeing one.
Teddy feels that Janibek didn’t fool the fans into believing he’s Godzilla because his opponent was so poor. Butler was already knocked out by former WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata and journeyman Jose de Jesus Macias (28-11-4, 14 KOs) in 2019.
Janibek-Butler should have been stopped
“That fight should have been stopped. I said it earlier. [Referee] Jack Reiss is a friend of mine, and that could have been bad,” said Teddy Atlas on The Fight about last Saturday’s knockout win by WBO middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly over Steven Butler.
“This Butler kid wouldn’t have even been a good sparring partner. I don’t know what they hoped to get from this,” said Ken Rideout.
“Janibek is with one of the other power brokers, Top Rank, and Bob Arum. So he gets a gift. We can also say that Butlers shouldn’t have been in the ring with this guy [Janibek]. Butler has been knocked out three times, and now it’s four.
“He’s being fed to Janibek, who has tons of amateur experience and is undefeated. It’s like feeding at the zoo. It’s like throwing a piece of raw meat to the lions. Who is in charge?
“The Commissions that ok this stuff. We know Top Rank doesn’t care. They just want to get their guy [Janibek] a sensation win, and they did it, but somebody has got to care about this part of the sport before somebody gets killed, and people do get killed, unfortunately,” said Atlas.
Butler didn’t belong in ring
“This Butler didn’t belong in the ring. We got to knock the people that allowed this fight to be made because, again, so one of the power brokers could be appeased, could be happy that he gets what he wants, which is a big knockout on his network [ESPN] to make everybody on the network happy to make it look like he’s got Godzilla,” said Teddy.
“This doesn’t say you got Godzilla. This just says you knocked out a guy that shouldn’t have been in the ring with you. How do you get excited?
“I know a win is a win, but how do you get excited when you look at it in a true, honest way, the way we look at things, and we are looking at it right now. You look at it that way.
“How do you get excited that you knocked out a guy for the fourth time in his career that he’s been knocked out now where the blow-by-blow announcer? I guess he was surprised. He called that fight like it was George Foreman and Joe Frazier in their first fight.
“With the shock of Joe Frazier getting knocked out of amazement of something happening that you didn’t expect. So I guess he didn’t expect it. Everyone else did. If you know anything about this sport, you can’t get that crazy,” said Atlas.
ESPN play-by-play over the top
“How do you go that crazy? How do you act that surprised? And again, calling it like it was Foreman knocking out Frazier,” said Atlas. “You would think it was Al Michaels, and Al Michaels didn’t go that crazy when the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians in 1980 in the Olympics. The ‘Miracle on Ice’ they made a movie about it.
“Michael didn’t go that nuts. He just said it in a proper way, professional way. He said, ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ But to go on and on. I was looking for the bucking bronco in the rodeo that he rode in on.
“I didn’t know that Top Rank had a stable where their announcers ride broncos into the joint. And the fans did any of them feel a little bothered by that or a little curious? Scratch your head and say, ‘Why?’
“I guess because of what I say. Some people feel that they have to howl for their meals. I don’t know. Or maybe they didn’t get enough attention that day. Really. I know sometimes I don’t get enough love. I don’t get enough attention and maybe I get a little off,” said Atlas.
“That enthusiasm didn’t play that well on Monday Night Football, so he’s back on the ESPN+ broadcasts,” said Rideout.
“I was watching it, and this guy [Janibek] is a 10-1 favorite, and at one point he said, ‘Blood is pouring from his nose like it’s raining,’” said Rideout. “I’m like, ‘Is he even bleeding from the nose?’ You would think it was Badou Jack behind me the way he described it.
“He was going on and on like Janibek just came back down from 11 rounds to 0 to score a knockdown in the twelfth round of a unification fight.
“This was a one-sided beat down in a fight. I was wondering why this kid Butler was even in the ring. Joe Tessitore is acting like he’s shocked that this kid was doing exactly what he was supposed to do. He would have done this to the kid in a sparring session.
“To your point. Just the facts, dude. ‘Knockdown. This is probably going on a little bit too long here. The end is inevitable,’ but to make it sound like it was ‘The Thrilla in Manilla,’ it’s super disappointing,” said Rideout.
“Down goes Frazier. Down goes Frazier,” said Atlas, doing a pretty fair initiation of the late announcer Howard Cossell, who put a lot of drama into George Foreman’s second round knockout of heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in 1973. “That was the great Howard Cossell.
“When guys on the mic play by the rules like you, they find themselves hosting a podcast with me,” said Rideout.
“God bless. God bless,” said Atlas. “I’m happy here, and I hope you are, and I hope Rob is, Sam is, and all the people involved, and I hope the fans are.”
“I couldn’t be happier, but when I listen to it, I can’t help but to think, ‘He must feel he has to do that and perform like that to keep his job,’ because it’s so over the top unless he’s auditioning for a movie role and wants to give an example of dramatic acting,” said Rideout.