Kellerman Leaves FNF: Now What
15.02.04 - By Frank Lotierzo: He's gone, boxing's favorite most loved and hated analyst. By now all know that ESPN Friday Nights Fights boxing analyst Max Kellerman couldn't come to terms in the renewal of his contract with ESPN. Mark my words, we'll see more of Max on T.V. down the road than we have over the last five years. The rumors are that Max will be joining Foxsports in the near future. What a perfect fit, Kellerman & Foxsports. Kellerman will attract the demo graph that Fox continually covets, 18-34.
Article posted on 15.02.2004
Over the past year, I have been a stern critic of Kellerman. And have taken him to task for saying things that I found to border on absurd. We're all entitled to our opinion, he had his and I have mine. Let me just say that nothing I ever wrote about Max was personal. I never met him face-to-face, but I did speak to him over the phone twice. The first conversation we had lasted about an hour and a half, the second lasted about 45 minutes. He was very friendly, despite us sharing some contrasting views and opinions.
In the past I've stated that I was never blown away by his boxing acumen. Although he did do his homework more than any other boxing analyst who was on National Television. At the same time, I talk to two or three guys a week who know more than him and have much better insight. That being said, Kellerman was good for boxing. The only boxing advocate that ESPN had, is now history.
Basically, I really only had two pet-peeves with Max. One of the things that I didn't like about him was that I felt he influenced the younger fans too much. Today it seems that after a fighter wins a big fight or two, he's anointed great. Kellerman did this a lot. Greatness is something that a fighter cannot achieve off of one fight. However, once he's earned it, you can't recall it. That's why I usually wait until the end of a fighters career before I call him great. You never know what the final picture will look like. That's why you can't deem greatness to any fighter in midstream. Greatness isn't fight to fight.
The other thing that bugged me about Max was that I thought he fell in-love with the size of today's heavyweights too much. I think him pushing for a Super-Heavyweight division was uncalled for and certainly not needed. In this era of supposed big heavyweights, we've had only one that had a truly great career, Lennox Lewis. In regards to all the other big heavyweights, how many of them can even be called outstanding. In my opinion, only Vitali Klitschko has a chance to be something special.
The thing that cannot be taken away from Kellerman is that he really was passionate about boxing and it came from the heart. I love him for that. And I'm sure those who consider themselves boxing fanatics, as I do myself, also respect that about him. What stood out was that you knew he would've co-hosted Friday Night Fights for free, just to talk boxing. That's something I'm sure many fans and viewers can relate too. Another thing that crossed our mind as we watched him with envy was that we all felt we could have been just as good or better. Maybe, maybe not. Unfortunately, boxing/sports broadcasting is no different than any other industry. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
Most of us are not connected well enough to get an opportunity like Max did. Give him credit for taking the ball and running with it. Which surprises me why he left ESPN when it was so apparent that ESPN was in the midst of trying to make him a star, something they are very good at. Just look at Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser. In my opinion his show "Around The Horn" was un watchable, but it was proof that ESPN was pushing and grooming him to become a major sports personality outside of boxing. I'd bet my life that Foxsports will do the same, maybe in hopes of him rivaling Jim Rome?
Now that Kellerman is no longer a part of FNF, who if anyone will take his place. It's been reported that they will be ushering in active fighters to take the analyst role of Max. Bringing in active fighters has it's pro's and con's. It's nice to see fighters get a chance like other athletes do in the media. And a respected fighter brings much credibility to the broadcast. That's not saying that analyst who never fought don't have a place, but hearing it from the guy who was in the heat of battle adds another dimension.
The negative about having fighters as the host is, they will be very reluctant to admonish another fighters performance. Unless it's James Toney? Having a fighter on will also enable him to promote and position himself into a better standing with the viewers and fans. The fighters who speak English and are more eloquent will be the ones who will obviously be called on the most. Communication in Television is paramount, thus leaving the network no choice but to use the best looking and most articulate fighters available. This gives the fighters with flash and personality a huge advantage.
I haven't decided yet on whether I think ESPN should hire another co-host like Kellerman, or rotate different fighters in an out. One thing I know is boxing is losing a strong advocate in Max Kellerman. Whether you liked him or not, agreed or disagreed with him, he was in boxings corner. There is something to be said for that. You just know that in production meetings Kellerman most likely stood up for boxing and tried to push it and improve it's visibility.
One thing I'd like to know is, did Kellerman see the handwriting on the wall. Did it become obvious to him that ESPN could care less about boxing, and may even be trying to phase it out of its mainstream programing? The only sure bets are, Kellerman will land on his feet, ESPN will continue the thrive, and boxing fans will most likely be screwed again. Remember, if you are a Max fan, you can bet your last dollar that you haven't seen the last of him. Maybe he'll try and push boxing on Foxsports. I for one would love to see Fox do a Kick-Ass boxing show, and blow ESPN off the screen?
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