Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Miguel Cotto

We got Miguel Cotto for Thursday's show. I know he's going to show up because I already recorded the interview.

On a side note, I met Brent Musberger in the studio. He's much larger than I thought he'd be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gatekeepers

I've often commented that one of the great things about boxing is that they athletes are so accessible. As an example, back around 2001 or 2002 when I was just a young cub reporter for Boxing Digest, I covered a show in San Jose where Jose Celaya was the main event. At that time Shane Mosley and his father were Celaya's manager.

After the fight I went back to Celaya's dressing room and spoke to Shane. I asked him how I could get in touch with him in the future and he gave me his cell number.

Now, if I was in the Lakers' locker room at that time, do you think Shaq would have given me his cell number?

That's not to say there aren't gatekeepers in the sport. In fact, the biggest stars have them, including Shane. But the number of boxers that have them are few and are generally only among the elite in the sport.

That being said, the gatekeepers can be quite difficult to deal with. Although, I have had Shane on the show several times, I have to go through his gatekeepers and have to work incredibly hard each time. His cell number from a few years ago isn't good anymore. With the fight just two weeks away, I've been calling and emailing Cotto and Mosley's people non-stop. No response. I'd rather hear, "No, we're not interested," than no return call or email. At least then I could move on and book someone else. However, I need to leave a slot open in case one of those guys become available.

Meanwhile, one guest who is booked should be tremendous. Gordon Hall runs the ShoBox franchise for Showtime. I thought I was the biggest boxing geek until I met Gordon. He knows so much about the sport and loves nothing more than to talk about it. I'm sure 12 minutes won't be enough. Don't forget, he's the guy that picks and makes most of the bouts on ShoBox. There are a lot of guys were won titles who were 9-0 when Gordon picked them to fight on ShoBox.

I'll update the blog when we hear from Mosley/Cotto's gatekeepers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who Do You Want On the Show?

OK, boxing fanatics, who do you want to hear on Through the Ropes? Give me an idea of who your favorite guests have been, as well as who we haven't had on that you want to hear from. Please let me know by leaving a comment.

This week we have Thomas Hauser booked so far. He is the author of "The Greatest Sport of All" -- a new book that is a very good read. I also have a call in to Emmanuel Steward, one of my favorite guests.

Next week will be a treat as well. Gordon Hall, who runs ShoBox for Showtime will be on to discuss the series' 100th show anniversary. Now, before you think, "why would I want to hear from a suit?" -- let me tell you that he is as passionate about boxing as anyone I've ever spoken with. We were on the phone for 45 minutes as he told me story after story about the show, various boxers, the sport. He is one of boxing's best kept secrets. He absolutely loves this stuff and I'm expecting a great interview.

Here are my top 5 Through the Ropes Guests (based solely on their interviews on the show)

1. Diego Corrales
2. Paulie Malignaggi
3. Larry Holmes
4. Shane Mosley
5. Wladimir Klitschko

Friday, October 19, 2007

McCline Interview

The Jameel McCline interview went great. As I mentioned yesterday, he is one of my favorite interviews. He always speaks his mind which is all an interviewer can ask for.

Unfortunately, Fightnews did not post the link to the show, so for those of you who missed it, you can download the podcast at www.sportsbyline.com and click on Through the Ropes.

A couple of highlights:

The first question I asked was if he had ever taken steroids, HGH or other illegal performance enhancing drugs. He said his lawyers have advised him not to comment at this time due to the ongoing investigation. I pressed him --"If there's nothing to hide, why not just say, I didn't do it?" He responded by saying because they don't know where the investigation is going he needs to play it safe and not comment. He added that he has never tested positive for steroids. I commented that while that's true, there is no test for HGH.

There was a very poignant moment when he was talking about how referee Mike Ortega asked Peter five questions before allowing him to continue after the second knockdown in the third round, giving him a few extra seconds of needed recovery time. When I watched the video of that moment, it appeared to me that Ortega may have been considering stopping the fight but wanted to give Peter every opportunity to continue if he could. I mentioned to Jameel that there was a lot at stake, so shouldn't the referee have acted accordingly and not make a pre-mature stoppage? His response hit home like a straight right to the solar plexus. "There was a lot at stake for me too."

Perhaps because I know Jameel and think I understand how desperately he wants to win a title, that really affected me. It's more of an emotional thing for him as opposed to the money (which would certainly be nice too). I get the impression that despite all of his success, being called heavyweight champion would heal a lot of painful memories from his past.

I encourage you to download the podcast. We also had some fun with Travis Walker who kept referring to the old recycled heavyweights, despite knowing Jameel was on the line.

Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Through the Ropes Gets Big Time!

I had undefeated heavyweight prospect Travis Walker booked for Thursday night but I needed another guest. Someone bigger that will draw some listeners. Buffer is booked for the next month. I wasn't in the mood for a media person. I wanted a big name, perhaps with some controversy. What the hell, I'll call Jameel McCline. He's not talking to anyone but I know him fairly well and we've always gotten along. Maybe I can leverage that relationship to score a big interview for the show.

Jameel and his wife Tina, who handles all of his media requests, went for it. They know that I'll be fair and that I'm not out to crucify anyone. Yet at the same time, they recognize that I'll ask the questions that need to be asked. I've spoken with Jameel many times on and off the record. I've always admired his candidness with the media. He's one of my favorite interviews. He actually answers the questions that are asked, rather than responding with clich├ęs we’ve grown accustomed to from many athletes.

Jameel will be in studio for the whole hour. I'm glad, because if he was just on for 10 minutes that wouldn't give us enough time to address the steroids, the fight, Duva, etc. What is especially interesting to me is that without the steroid allegations, his stock might have actually risen based on his performance against Peter. Jameel would make an excellent commentator when his fighting days are over. But with that nasty 'roid accusation, I'm not sure if the networks would touch him at the moment. I want to hear his plans for the future and how he will clear his name (assuming he says he's innocent). I hope we don't get into a "cream and the clear" situation.

Talk to you tomorrow night.

Until then, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looking for Guests in All the Wrong Places

As I mentioned in an earlier post, some weeks I have potential guests coming out the ying-yang and other times, I'm scrambling on Wednesday evening or even Thursday morning. With no big fights coming up in the next few weeks, it's more of a challenge to get big name, timely guests.

Some of the stars like to get all of their media done at once (within a few day span), usually the week of or before the fight. Others don't want to be bothered that close to the bout and you have to catch them early in camp.

I sent out my feelers to Cotto and Mosley's people today. Top Rank said Cotto will be doing all of his interviews around the same time and will get back to me once they know their schedule. Golden Boy's PR machine can be very difficult. I'm hoping the fact that I've had Shane on several times will count for something but you never know.

Back to this week -- I sent out several requests and all came back negative. I've been trying to get Jimmy Lennon, Jr. on for a while, but the guy is so busy announcing fights or traveling to a fight, he's never around on Thursday nights.

The good news is I booked Thomas Hauser for next week. His new book, "The Greatest Sport of All" is very good. We'll be giving away a copy on next week's show. He's a terrific writer who has been around for years and was probably as close to Ali as any writer, so it should be a fascinating conversation.

As for this week -- I've got to hit the phones hard tomorrow.

The good news is I'm looking forward to this weekend. There are no big shows and I'm not announcing anything. Though it does feel like a void as it will be the first time I've been home for two weekends in a row in months.

That being said, it will be nice to spend time with the family and eat dinner before 11:30. Whenever I work a show, I usually eat a late lunch around 3 and don't eat dinner because I don't want to be weighed down when I need to present a strong voice. So I end up eating Denny's or in the case of the Shobox show in California two weeks ago, great Mexican food at midnight. I think I'm the only one who didn't get heartburn. If you're ever in Corona, CA and hankering for a fine wet burrito at 12:00 a.m., pay a visit to Haciena Guadalajara.

Aah, the glamorous life.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

On the Road

In my last post, I mentioned how some shows are easy to schedule and others aren't. This week falls into the latter category.

I thought I had Sam Peter confirmed last week but his manager was very wishy washy as to whether he would do the show. "I know it's great publicity, but he's tired. I can't make him." He said he'd see what he could do and I should call him tonight. I'm guessing it's not going to happen.

Juan Diaz is confirmed. Hopefully, that's not a problem.

I also am supposed to have Jeff Mayweather who is Sultan Ibragimov's trainer. He's currently in Russia and is willing to get up at 5:30 a.m. to do our show and incur massive roaming charges on his cell phone bill. I'm always leery when a guest is in another country and has to get up early to do the show. That's probably 50-50 at best

To make the show even more challenging, I'm on the road because I'm ring announcing Shobox tomorrow night. I'm scheduled to arrive in California just a few hours before Through the Ropes goes live. That doesn't give me a lot of time to scramble if the guests aren't going to be available.

I'll use the time on the plane to prepare if the guests show up and if they don't. It's something I have to do every week -- prepare two shows. Athletes tend to be flaky and are known to blow off commitments. Boxers are especially notorious for not being where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there.

To further point out what a glamorous life I lead, today is my birthday. I'll likely eat dinner alone after the show and watch Seinfeld reruns in my hotel room. Feel free to join my pity party.

My brother will come up to the Shobox show and crash with me, so at least I'll get to go out with him after the show. It will be the first time any family has seen my ring announce live.

I'm in the Dallas airport writing this and my BBQ chicken sandwich just arrived. Again, more glamour. You think Buffer eats BBQ chicken sandwiches in airport bars? No, I don't think so. And yeah, I know. I'm not Buffer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Welcome

"Welcome to the show
Please come inside
Ladies & gentleman" -- Saliva


Welcome to the Through the Ropes blog.  I've finally come out of my 1980s cocoon (although I still listen to Dokken on vinyl) and have entered the 21st century.  I envision this blog serving two purposes -- to support the Through the Ropes radio show with information on upcoming broadcasts such as scheduled guests, follow up on conversations from past programs and allow the fans to post comments about TTR and anything else boxing related.


The second purpose is to provide fans with a view of what it's like to live the dream.  You see, starting when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was a boxing fanatic.  I watched every round of boxing that was televised.  I was probably the only kid in my high school who could name the 9th ranked featherweight in the world (WBC & WBA).  I always dreamed of working in boxing but had no idea as to how it would happen.


When I graduated college, I sent Don King a letter every week for six months.  I was willing to do anything from matchmaking, to bookkeeping to sweeping up the floors.  He never responded.  I must admit, it was deeply satisfying to interview him in his office, have him on my show and to ring announce one of his cards.


It took longer than I would have liked for the dream to become reality, but through a serendipitous set of circumstances, perseverance and abundant talent (actually, it was mostly luck) I found myself with a nationally syndicated radio show. That in turn seemed to open the door to my ring announcing career.


Perhaps I haven't been at it long enough, but I haven't become a crusty, grisly old veteran of the game who no longer finds it fun.  In fact, quite the opposite.  While I try to be as professional as the jobs demand, that 14 year old inside me still pops up from time to time saying, "I can't believe I just spoke to Sugar Ray Leonard!" or "I'm about to make the introductions on Friday Night Fights!"  I still get a huge charge out of everything I do in boxing and hopefully that enthusiasm shows.


So, what I'd like to do is take you behind the scenes with me when I go to an event and meet the people we'd all like to meet.  I hope I'll be able to effectively communicate  just what it's like for a guy in my position, but one who still loves the sport the way he did when he was a kid.


You'll also get the inside skinny on what it's like to host and executive produce the most widely listened to boxing radio show.  Some weeks, it's easy and fun.  Others, it's maddening.
And just like on the show, where we distinguish ourselves by opening up the conversation to the fans, I hope you'll leave comments, feedback, compliments and complaints.  
I'm still a boxing fanatic and want to provide the best radio show (and now blog) that I can for my fellow fans.  So please don't be shy.


Oh yeah, this week we have Juan Diaz scheduled and I'm waiting to hear if Sam Peter is available. I'll update the blog once the guest list is finalized.


Through the Ropes is heard live on Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m ET/6:00 p.m. PT on 75 affiliates of the Sports Byline Broadcast Network, www.fightnews.com and www.sportsbyline.com.  If you ever miss a show, you can download the podcast.  Subscribe to the podcast by visiting www.sportsbyline.com and clicking on Through the Ropes.