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Last Friday evening in Philadelphia, ESPN2 boxing trainer cum analyst Teddy Atlas gave new meaning to the term combination. Atlas, a dese-and dose-type guy who gained renown working Mike Tyson's corner, had one of his boxers, unbeaten Kosovar light heavyweight Elvir Muriqi, entered in a six-round bout against journeyman Danny Sheehan at the Blue Horizon. So ESPN2 asked him to work the fight as analyst and trainer. "I was a little hesitant," said Atlas before the fight, "but it's a great opportunity for my fighter." Not to mention for Atlas.
Great television too. Atlas served two masters and served them entertainingly. During each round he sat in Muriqi's corner wearing a headset and conversing with blow-by-blow man Bob Papa. Then, at the sound of the bell, he doffed the headset and, wearing a clip-on mike, entered the ring to counsel Muriqi.
Atlas was candid. During Round 2 he said of Sheehan, a putative sacrificial lamb, "He's a little raw, I'm not going to lie to you." After Muriqi lost a point in the third round for a low blow, Atlas yelled, "Put the punches together and stop the crap."
As the bout progressed and Muriqi was warned for two more low blows, the crowd turned hostile—"You fight like a Serb!" someone yelled—and Atlas turned anxious. "My kid's showing his immaturity," he told Papa during Round 4. One round later, in between exhorting Muriqi to throw more combos, he said, "Let me tell you something, Bob, if he can't beat this guy, this'll be a tough business for him to make a living."
Muriqi lost. Trailing on two of three judges' cards, he was disqualified after a fourth low blow with 12 seconds remaining in the bout. Although Muriqi's night was over, Atlas's wasn't. The final scene was surreal, even for a sport that has seen it all. As Muriqi and his other handlers wept openly in a corner of his training room, Atlas stood 10 feet in front of them, on camera, providing postfight analysis. "Right now [Muriqi's] devastated," Atlas told Papa and the viewing audience. "Now he's got to go back to the gym, enhance his training or get into another business."
Give Atlas credit. Handling two jobs in one evening, he didn't pull a punch.
BIZARRE SCUBA SITE
For the scuba enthusiast to whom lush coral and exotic fish have become a yawn, the Family Scuba Center offers an underwater adventure in a place where few have gone before: an abandoned Atlas F missile silo. One of the last intact concrete tubes installed by the Kennedy Administration to withstand a nuclear war, the 160-foot-deep, 60-foot-wide silo near Abilene, Texas, features the skeletal remains of lighting systems, launch crew dressing areas and blast doors, all immersed in millions of gallons of groundwater.
It's only $35 for a weekend of diving, about the cost of a cocktail on a Caribbean dive boat. Mark Hannifin and his wife, Linda, came up with the idea for the dive in 1994 in an effort to make good on their six-figure investment in the silo, which they had bought, Hannifin says, "on a whim" after seeing a classified ad in Abilene's Thrifty Nickel. "Here was this crystal clear pool at our disposal," says Hannifin. "We thought, why not dive it?"