A singular motivating force led HBO and Showtime to join forces this Saturday night in producing the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao rumble — greed.
The payday, the moo-la-dee, is what forced the suits (holding their noses no doubt) to mix and match voices from different sides of the aisle for this Pay-Per-View telecast. Their public proclamations promising a smooth fight night operation, and that all the announcers will remain neutral, are, at best, totally disingenuous.
Then again, these executives are involved in a sport where lying is simply a reflex action — kind of like breathing.
Each network has plenty at stake. The fighter who loses leaves Las Vegas as damaged goods to his network. The broadcasters working the fight know this. None of them enters the arena as a neutral commentator. At least one is honest enough to admit it.
“You can never completely erase that business relationship (between a fighter and your network), and what it means, from your mind,” Jim Lampley, the HBO voice who will call the fight, said over the telephone. “I know what our business relationship is in every fight we do. It seeps into your mind during a fight. It will Saturday night, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t call the fight fairly.”
The gold-plated tracks Mayweather traveled from HBO to Showtime in 2012, when he left to sign a six-fight, $200 million deal with the CBS-owned company, are covered with bad blood.
Before leaving HBO, Mayweather tried to force a clause into his contract that would have prohibited Lampley and then-analyst Larry Merchant, from talking about any aspect of the fighter’s life outside the ring, including his history of domestic violence.
Merchant and Mayweather also verbally went at each other in a post-fight interview after the fighter’s controversial KO win over Victor Ortiz in 2011. Mayweather called for Merchant to be fired, adding, “You don’t know s— about boxing.” Merchant: “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.”
No voice from Showtime would ever speak to Mayweather in such a harsh manner. Mayweather is not just Showtime’s biggest star. He also has an “executive producer” credit on all “specials” involving him and final say over all scripts. The network’s boxing voices mostly verbally genuflect to him. Al Bernstein, Showtime’s analyst, will join HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr. and Lampley for Saturday’s PPV telecast. Max Kellerman (HBO) and Jim Gray (Showtime) are ringside reporters. Steve Farhood (Showtime) and Harold Lederman (HBO) will be the unofficial scorers.
“There’s a delicate tension that goes with this production,” Lampley said. “Everyone knows these are two networks with conflicting business interests.”
Depending on whom we spoke with, either Lampley calling the fight was not an issue, or it was a huge one that was debated. On his show, “The Fight Game,” Lampley has consistently ripped Mayweather, once saying “for the betterment of boxing’s image, Floyd Mayweather’s retirement cannot come a moment too soon.”
Lampley said he won’t be dealing with Mayweather’s troubled past during the fight. “I don’t have to think about it,” Lampley said. “That’s for the host’s (James Brown) operation.” Through his career, Brown has not ducked issues.
But with Mayweather being such a controlling force at Showtime, will Brown dare to bring up Mayweather’s history of domestic violence during his segments? Considering his strong commentaries on cases of domestic violence in the NFL, Brown must know Mayweather once said that the NFL was overreacting to a videotape when it suspended Ray Rice.
Once the bell rings, the action inside the ring will dictate the voices’ commentary — or will it? Other than scoring figure skating, nothing is more subjective than analyzing, or scoring, a prize fight. This is when the relationship between boxing commentators can get contentious, especially if a fight such as Mayweather-Pacquiao is close.
Credit to the NY Daily News who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
1010XL Jay Fund Radiothon Raises Nearly $250,000 For Pediatric Cancer Research
“In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 billion for the Jay Fund.”
Jacksonville’s 1010XL used its airwaves to raise money for the Jay Fund for the fifteenth year earlier this week. The radiothon was a smashing success, raising $249,784 to fight pediatric cancer.
This year’s total is a new record for the event. In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 million for the Jay Fund.
“I’m truly amazed at the generosity of the 1010 XL listeners in times when a carton of eggs cost six dollars,” said General Manager Steven Griffin, “and equally amazed how the hosts, producers, radio staff and volunteers come together with a singular focus to year-after-year produce these results in one broadcast day.”
Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in memory of Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while playing for Coughlin at Boston College. The organization has helped over 5,000 families and given away over $16 million in grants in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.
Parkins & Spiegel Wonder If Trent Dilfer Will Still Appear On Their Show After Taking UAB Job
“I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Former ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has been hired as the new head coach at UAB. However, Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel wondered if that meant Dilfer would no longer be making his weekly appearances on Parkins & Spiegel on 670 The Score.
“Our guy is no longer gonna do a radio show out of Chicago?” Parkins joked, referencing an incident last month where Dilfer failed to say “Parkins & Spiegel“ during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
“I don’t know that that’s the case,” Spiegel replied.
“We don’t know that yet,” producer Shane Riordan said. “We have only shared a couple of text message — Trent and I — this morning and I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Later in the show, Parkins and Spiegel jokingly wondered what jobs they could have on UAB’s staff, with Parkins balking at being a sports information director. He did say he would welcome being the offensive player caller, but believed that job might fall under the purview of Dilfer.
Mike Milbury: Jack Edwards Is ‘Awkward’ and ‘A Different Breed’
“Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Boston Bruins television play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards has come under fire for recent comments he made about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and his weight. In turn, Maroon donated money in Edwards’ name to a mental health organization. On The Greg Hill Show Thursday, former NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury both slammed and defended Edwards.
“Jack Edwards. Who’s Jack Edwards? He went through all of junior high school being picked on and bullied,” Milbury said. “Now he’s trying to get even. Wouldn’t you want to smack that guy, Wiggy? Skinny, scrawny, mouthy son of a bitch.”
“Jack is screaming at the TV all the time,” he continued. “I gotta turn it down half the time.”
When asked by Courtney Cox if it was appropriate for Edwards to make comments about Maroon’s weight, noting that the comments were “awkward”, Milbury said Edwards is a divisive presence.
“Jack is awkward. I think half of Boston hates him and half of Boston loves him. He certainly loves the Bruins and is passionate about it but he’s a different breed of cat. Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Milbury was “cancelled” after saying NHL players in the league’s playoff “bubble” weren’t being distracted by their wives and girlfriends being present. He was dropped by the NHL on NBC after the comments and has not resurfaced on a major network.
The comments and questions to Milbury came after Cox and co-host Jermaine Wiggins disagreed about whether Edwards’ comments were warranted.
Wiggins said he “thought hockey players were supposed to be tough”, adding “he’s got a few extra LBs. It’s a joke.”
Cox countered by saying “it’s not a joke. No one should be talking about it. Jack Edwards went on for like five minutes about it. It wasn’t funny.”
Hill said when Wiggins was in the NFL, nobody cared what television broadcasters said about them. Cox argued by saying “in your day, nobody talked to a therapist, either”.