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 [email protected].
Jim Rome: I Don’t Want to Talk About How the NFL Sucks Every Day
Rome argued that “hate is the new dopamine” while noting that he doesn’t want to talk about what he hates all day.
Jim Rome didn’t want to have to be that guy on Tuesday, but he had no choice.
Rome opened his CBS Sports Radio show by prefacing his comments on Monday night’s Bears/Vikings game by saying his goal isn’t to just ridicule the NFL schedule into oblivion.
“I don’t come in here every single day looking to bag on and hate on NFL primetime games,” Rome said. “And yes, I’m the one who said it – hate is the new dopamine. But that’s not how I get down. That’s not my deal.”
Jim Rome added that just saying everything sucks isn’t a sports take. But he pivoted from there saying that it’s OK to say 95% of the primetime games in the NFL suck because it’s true.
“Then not only is it a take, it’s the only take,” he said. “How are these games actually managing in primetime to get worse and worse? And how is anything going to top the atrocity that we sat through last night?”
Fans in theory should get a more competitive, high-scoring affair on Thursday night when the Seahawks take on the Cowboys. But Rome just couldn’t believe how torturous Monday night’s contest really was.
“Technically, the Bears did win that game. But technically, really, we all lost,” he said.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Mad Dog: Gus Johnson ‘Bothered The Hell Out of Me’ Saturday
“For crying out loud, Michigan/Ohio State isn’t even better than North Carolina/Duke, who play twice a year. So let’s be careful with the hype machine.”
FOX Sports college football voice Gus Johnson has made no bones about his affinity for Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. However, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has heard enough.
During his Mad Dog Unleashed program on SiriusXM, Russo shared that not only was Johnson obnoxious for the constant use of a nickname he bestowed up Harrison, but he was also misguided for calling Ohio State/Michigan the greatest rivalry in sports.
“Gus Johnson — the hype machine that he is — please, when you broadcast a ballgame, I don’t need to hear about Maserati Marv, number one. And number two, that’s not the greatest rivalry in sports history. Have you heard of the Yankees and the Red Sox? Giants and the Dodgers? How about Bears/Packers? Have you heard about that?
“For crying out loud, Michigan/Ohio State isn’t even better than North Carolina/Duke, who play twice a year. So let’s be careful with the hype machine. That bothered the hell out of me.”
When a caller pushed back on Russo’s opinion on the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry, he continued by saying “That rivalry’s not Yankees/Red Sox. To compare college football to the Yankees and the Red Sox is ludicrous.”
Nashville Predators Radio Voice Pete Weber Calling 2,000th Game Tuesday
“I always wanted to be there for the birth of a team. I feel like I’ve been a pretty fair midwife here.”
Nashville Predators radio voice Pete Weber is set to hit a career milestone Tuesday, as he’ll call his 2,000th game for the NHL franchise.
Weber told The Tennessean that he has relished the opportunity to be the voice of a team since its inception. He claimed he applied for and was a finalist for the radio play-by-play job when the Carolina Panthers were conceived, before ultimately landing with the Predators.
“I always wanted to be there for the birth of a team,” said Weber. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty fair midwife here.”
Despite missing time late last season due to a rare brain condition, Weber said he has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
“I have not thought about it, other than when I thought about how (former Philadelphia Phillies announcer) Harry Kalas was carried dead out of the broadcast booth in Washington,” Pete Weber said. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s an interesting way to go. I don’t necessarily know that I want to do it like that. But it could happen. I’m not going to say no.”
Weber’s 2,000th game will come as the Nashville Predators play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 102.5 The Game is the flagship home of the Predators Radio Network.