I'm a huge fan of HBO Boxing.When it comes to head to head competition against Showtime, in my opinion, it's the announcers that give HBO the edge.
Jim Lampley is the consummate professional. He's excitable, but rarely wavers from calling a good, unbiased fight.
Larry Merchant, some people love him and some people hate him. I happen to like Merchant. Yes, he can ramble and some of his predictions can be off the mark. But, he's a straight-shooter who, quite honestly, asks a lot of questions that other announcers shy away from.
Emmanuel Steward, George Foreman, and Lennox Lewis are all extremely good at their roles. I especially like Steward as he provides insight into a fight that, quite frankly, I just don't see.
For instance, at the latest Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez fight, Steward rightly predicted that Martinez was going to get hit with a lot more shots in the later rounds (and he did). He also first spotted that Williams was open to the counter right hook (which he was).
Then there's Max Kellerman.
Please, please someone take Max Kellerman.
The annoyance that is Max Kellerman.
It should surprise no one that Kellerman is a huge, huge fan of Howard Stern. I've heard he has an ESPN radio program out of New York (I've never listened). A sports radio announcer out of New York city is explanation enough.
Wait, a correction there, Kellerman was recently fired from ESPN.
He's of the ilk of the new breed shock jock announcer.
IF I TALK REALLY, REALLY LOUD AND MAKE VERY BOLD PREDICTIONS AND SOUND AUTHORITARIAN, PERHAPS NOBODY WILL NOTICE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
If Vin Scully has a voice that could put angels to sleep, Kellerman has a voice that will give them nightmares.
It's this kind of high-pitched, whiny New York accent amped up about fifteen decibels. He almost sounds like a cross between Richard Nixon and Woody Allen (just writing that made me shiver).
I have no idea how or why he got a job as a boxing analyst. As far as I can tell, he was never a boxer, or judged boxing, or has any experience within the sport.
Anyone who watched his interview with Floyd Mayweather Jr. after his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez witnessed an exhibition in amateur commentary. At one point, Floyd even admonished him for 'talking too much'.
It's not the first time he's come across as ego driven and arrogant to boxers. He's been downright condescending to Joel Casemoyer and Shane Mosely.
His predictions and analysis are bizarre, almost designed to elicit an emotional response rather than communicate any real insight.
In the Joe Calzaghe - Roy Jones Jr. fight, Kellerman first said that Calzaghe looked in trouble and then that Jones Jr. would have taken Calzaghe apart if he was younger.
Calzaghe was never in trouble in that fight. In fact, he landed more punches that anyone ever has on Roy Jones Jr. He dominated that fight from start to finish. It wasn't even close after the first round. Yes, Jones Jr. was 39 years old at the time, but Calzaghe was 36. What?
Every single fight that he announces follows the same pattern. Great analysis from the other announcers and then Kellerman chimes in with some bizarre commentary from out of left field. I felt the same way watching a rugby match in Ireland a few years back. I'd ask the most elementary questions and make, mostly wrong, observations. The difference is I was an admitted newbie to the sport while Kellerman is getting paid an awful lot of money to be an expert.
I can't recall ever, once, hearing him saying anything remotely useful or insightful during a boxing match.
It should surprise nobody that he got his start on Around The Horn. The perpetually annoying sports show on ESPN where sports news writers from across the country compete against each other on a variety of topics.
The shows generally dissolve into a lot of shouting and arguing and then someone wins by the most arbitrary of decisions. Around The Horn actually inspired me to write on Bleacher Report. If those guys can write about sports, then I sure as heck can.
Kellerman has to go. I understand the decision making by the head honchos at HBO. Let's get a young, excitable guy to attract a younger audience. Fair enough. The problem is they chose the wrong guy.
I can't see some tatted-up 21-year-old in Cedar Rapids tuning into HBO Boxing due to Max Kellerman. And, he turns off the more mature audience members. If you're old enough to remember watching Marvin Hagler fight, then you probably don't like Max Kellerman.
If HBO was smart they'd drop Kellerman like a bad habit and get a really hot female Latino announcer. Kill two birds with one stone. Attract both the younger 18-34 male demographic and the Latino demographic.
Hell, Salma Hayek hasn't done anything lately, I'd tune in to any fight just to watch her. She even has that feisty Latina attitude that would make for great television.
Oh well, I can dream on. Until then, I'm stuck with Mighty Max and his high-pitched nasal nonsensical commentary. I suppose I can always hit the mute button.