Boxers as Commentators: The way it Should Be!
14.12.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: With the recent announcement of HBO to increase its boxing line up, I couldn’t help but offer up a bit of criticism in regards to the apparent selection of Max Kellerman into the commentating roll. Now, a lot of people don’t like Kellerman, for whatever reason, but I personally have no problem in listening to him. When he talks, his passion for boxing shows through, and even though some fans don’t agree with his knowledge or lack there off, I would rather have a fan than a none fan commentating, any day.. Basically, there are people who are good journalists or commentators but couldn’t care less about boxing, and then there are those who are bad commentators but great fans. In my opinion, Kellerman is good at both, or could be potentially, so that is not really the issue.
Article posted on 15.12.2005
As a fellow fan of boxing, my problem is that Kellerman takes a potential position away from some retired boxer who could do well in it, and finds a niche for themself in this sport. Basically, when fighters leave the ring, often they don’t want to leave the sport and positions, such as those that Kellerman take, force them out of effectively the pension they will not see in their lifetime. Kellerman, as much as I like him, can, even if not a pension, handle rolls in other sports, whereas Roy Jones may not do as well discussing Football.
Another problem with the use of non-boxer commentators is they usually can’t offer the same perspectives as boxers can. Usually, George Foreman, and Roy Jones, as well as Bobby Czyz, made extremely insightful comments throughout a match. Not in that they said something significant, but rather they made comments that could really be seen as something only a boxer would pick up on. It didn’t even have to predict the result but rather the general psychology of the fighters in the ring. Jones, during the Hopkins bout, rightfully commentated that Hopkins was frustrating Taylor, and although Taylor ended up winning the fight, the comment stood out in my mind as correct, and coming from a man who knows what exactly what it means. In that sense, I want to see boxers in the commentating roles because, it's almost as if that sense of understanding is clearer because of the speaker.
Of course, the big issue is that boxers with Jones, or Foreman-like personalities are kind of rare. Many fighters probably couldn’t handle such a role because they never had great speaking skills, or an attractive personality. Still, I am willing to bet there are at least a few, even if they might need training or tutoring, so they can do their job better. Take celebrity boxing for instance, considered one of the stupidest things to come out of your TV tuned to FOX, since the riveting special “when animals attack"……or "police cars pursuing criminals.” Kidding aside, though, did anybody notice the decent job Ray “boom boom” Mancini did commentating for that one? I distinctly remember the Perry vs. Bol bout and how Ray actually made me understand that this is kind of in jest and should be enjoyable and entertaining, not mocked for its stupidity. Mancini came off as likeable and a guy like him on HBO wouldn’t be a bad idea.
What about Sharmba Mitchell? When he hosted ESPN Friday night fights, before the Tsyzu fight, he didn’t do too bad a job. Ditto for Joe Mesi. Perhaps HBO should have the same format, where in they invite different fighters to do the guest commentary for “Boxing After Dark,” or some of their other HBO shows. It would be nice to see some variety in the commentary ranks, both from a freshness standpoint, and in retrospect to show which boxers do a better job at it and should be invited back.
Heck, they shouldn’t even relegate it to boxers, or former boxers only; Even different trainers might do a good job in the role. I know we all make fun of Norman Stone but isn’t everybody curious how boxings' version of the WWF, will do with a microphone in hand? I know I am. Maybe Larry could take the night off and he could interview the winning boxer and then jaw a little with his seconds or something? Larry is a bit restricted in that sense, I doubt Norman would have a problem in telling some rowdy corner-men to go “#$@#” themselves.
On a more serious note, what about some amateur coaches or trainers? The American amateur boxing problem is not as successful with all these guys going pro, and maybe actually seeing some representative from it on TV, might turn that around?
In any case, this is just a small criticism of an overly good idea from HBO, which involves showing us more boxing. Hey, the more we criticize, the better it gets, I figure, or we run out of stuff to criticize, and move on. I would personally prefer boxers, or trainers, to dominate this field as opposed to pro commentators. Obviously you won’t have many boxers that majored in journalism in college, but I am sure they could find enough former ones that won’t bore the fans to death. After all, it's boxing rarely can that ever put me to sleep.
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