Back to the Future

By Robert Ecksel on April 6, 2015
Back to the Future
PBC, working with SiriusXM, will broadcast the first of a series of fight cards live on radio.

With a knowledgeable team at the helm, we can expect something old, something new, something borrowed, black and blue…

Boxing has been in the doldrums. A great sport that creates great wealth and great injustice in equal measure, those with the oars have been unwilling to rock the boat, for good reason and who can blame them.

I come not to bury Al Haymon, nor to praise him. But as someone who was on the outside looking in and is now on the inside looking out, he is attempting, with mixed results thus far, to infuse some life into the noble art.

Premier Boxing Champions is not perfect. The fights have been so-so, which will hopefully change Saturday night when Danny Garcia fights Lamont Peterson and Andy Lee fights Peter Quillin. And the televised broadcasts, too refined on some levels, need to be refined in other ways. Including punch stats or some variation thereof is a good place to start. And letting the viewers hear what’s going on in the corners between rounds is too significant to ignore, even though it means muzzling chatty announcers.

Critiquing fights isn’t the same as trashing fights. But the big picture, no less than the small picture, demands that we be objective and fair, and a little intelligence thrown in for good measure hardly hurts when one gets used to it.

Haymon Boxing’s return the future has added a new wrinkle. Starting with Saturday’s fights from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, PBC, in conjunction with SiriusXM, will broadcast the first of a series of fights on radio.

I can no sooner remember FDR’s Fireside Chats than I can remember the first radio broadcast of a prizefight, when Jack Dempsey fought Billy Miske on Sept. 6, 1920, at Floyd Fitzsimmons Arena in Benton Harbor, Michigan. But despite an avalanche of technical advances, which seem to accelerate by the day, radio has not gone out of style.

SiriusXM will broadcast no less than 10 Premier Boxing Champions fight cards this year. Don Dunphy is unavailable, due to a prior commitment, but SiriusXM’s broadcast team will he headed by Randy Gordon, former editor of The Ring, who will handle blow-by-blow; former heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney, who will serve as color analyst; and nationally syndicated radio host Sway Calloway is the ringside reporter.

SiriusXM’s senior vice president of sports programming, Steve Cohen, told USA TODAY Sports that he has studied several classic boxing matches on radio.

“It’s so different from television because you’re really the eyes of the listening audience,” he said. “And you need to take them everywhere the fighters are in the ring: center of the ring, up against the ropes, and let them know what’s going on. With that said, if you’re doing your job correctly as a boxing play-by-play guy on the radio, you won’t hear much from the analyst until after the round. That’s the way it was done.”

Replicating the Golden Age of Radio won’t be easy. But with a knowledgeable team at the helm, we can expect something old, something new, something borrowed, black and blue.

“We’re going to have the ring all miked up through the TV partners that are working with Al Haymon,” Cohen continued, “and they’ve been awesome in providing us that natural sound, and so we want to bring this right through your radio. We want you to hear the guys hitting each other, we want you to hear the corners. We want to bring you the whole visual of what’s going on in that ring and all the sounds that go along with that through your radio.”

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give Al Haymon props for trying.

The live radio broadcast of Garcia vs. Peterson and Lee vs. Quillin will air on Sportszone, Channel 92, beginning at 8 PM/ET.

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  1. Eric 06:00am, 04/07/2015

    In the age of hundreds of channels on flat screen television sets in HD, iphones, laptops, Kindle books, good to see that good old fashioned radio is still going strong. Newspapers (justifiably so), video stores, television “news” programs, book stores are becoming dinosaurs or in the case of video stores, have already become extinct. But antiquated radio isn’t going anywhere. Maybe they can bring back the CB radio craze of the 70’s.

  2. bikermike 04:59am, 04/07/2015

    I heard Patterson vs Liston on the radio… much TV coverage in my area at the time.

    Was on the ...heard Pipino Cuevas vs Thomas Hearns on the radio…

    Nothing wrong with radio coverage….hundreds of thousands of truckers and motorists will be grateful….among the audience

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