HBO shut down their boxing department last year, and truth be told, some of us are still not totally over that.
That means that talents like Jim Lampley, so long a fixture ringside calling some of the most momentous boxing events of the modern era, are not currently front and center and holding court.
It got me thinking — what has Lampley, who entered the Hall of Fame in 2015 and called boxing for 45 years, been up to?
It turns out that he will be teaching at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, and he shared some on how he has coped post-shutdown at HBO.
”I certainly have missed the collegial experience of working with a group, and the experience of preparing for telecasts and doing the homework and gathering the information and relying on a large production team to support me,” he said. “That was the rhythm of my life for 45 years, so it’s impossible not to miss an experience like that.”
Lampley said that yes, if given the opportunity to call fights again, he’d be open to it, for the record.
So, is he still a fan? Does he tune in to bouts? Turns out that boxing goes up against grandchildren, and grandkids usually win. He missed the Manny Pacquiao versus Keith Thurman scrap because he was with the offspring at Legoland.
The North Carolina native continued: he said that while he’s out and about, he gets pulled aside and asked about the fight game. And he’s been outside the inner sphere for a bit. Has that given him an ability to see the game more clearly?
“The audience is confused,” he notes, because there is so much content out there and it’s presented all over the place. Too many titles, too many platforms, maybe, and it becomes a bit overwhelming. It would be better if we simplified it, because the general public can’t have an easy time keeping up.
“Everybody’s doing the best they can to sort out the confusion,” he told me, “but it’s a challenge.”
We dug deep; I asked Lampley how he handled and handles when fighters pass away from trauma suffered in the ring. Maxim Dadashev died after a July 19 bout which ran on ESPN+, and we riffed off of that. It got harder to deal with as he soldiered on, Lampley said. He narrated four ring fatalities, he shared, and so yes, that’s hard to handle. Most all of us do struggle with, to some extent, our love of the game with the inherent dangers involved. Are we brutes for being entertained by such struggle, and should the sport exist, when we know that it will claim lives, year in, year out?
Yes, Lampley wishes Buddy McGirt had stopped the fight after round nine, not round 11 in that Dadashev bout. But he knows combat sport will always be present, even if it is shoved underground, if it gets banned. So, we will continue to ponder this vexing issue, in one manner or another.
You can get more Lampley talking about what he is up to now, right here.