Boxing fans are by now well-aware of the battle that longtime broadcaster Nick Charles has been waging, as the 64-year-old Charles was diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer in 2009. Charles has fought the disease bravely for almost two years now, and while he has at this point stepped away from broadcasting, he's coming back for one more fight tonight.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports has a wonderful article up on Charles and this situation. HBO has afforded Mr. Charles the opportunity to call the Mikey Garcia-Matt Remillard co-feature bout on tonight's Boxing After Dark.
[HBO executive producer Rick] Bernstein was on the train going to work in New York one day earlier this month, reading the wonderful tribute to Charles in Sports Illustrated written by the great sportswriter Joe Posnanski.
One brief passage in the story touched him: When he talks about how much he’d like to cover one more fight for television, he smiles and admits it probably won’t happen. "It’s O.K.," he says. "I’ve covered a lot of fights."
Those words resonated with Bernstein, who knew that Charles’ wish was one he could fulfill. When he arrived at the office, he went to see HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. He showed Greenburg the article and told him of his plan to offer Charles the opportunity to call the Garcia-Remillard match.
Greenburg wholeheartedly endorsed the idea, so Bernstein set out to make it a reality.
"We’re excited to be in a position to afford Nick this opportunity," Bernstein said. "This is a guy we’ve had a long relationship with and, obviously, it means a lot to Nick. It was a no-brainer, honestly."
I mean this with 100% sincerity: HBO has made a true class move with this gesture and this decision, and I applaud the heart and respect they're showing here. It's rare that in boxing, especially the corporate part, you see something moving and just plain touching like this. But here we are.
"I suppose they’re going to pay me for this, but I don’t know, to be honest with you, because I never asked," Charles said. "And to be honest with you, I don’t care. This is such a wonderful sign of fidelity, friendship and respect. I love boxing and I love calling boxing, and for these people at HBO to do what they’ve done and to give me another chance, I’ll be honest: I’m overwhelmed. I never, ever expected this and I am so thankful, I’ll never really be able to express it."
I hope Nick gets to call a great fight tonight, and I look forward to hearing his voice again.