Since boxing it what it is, a sport that has no central league, no Commissioner overseeing and insuring a certain measure of standards and practices, it is left up to the players to make it up as they go. As all these freelancers jockey for position, with monetary gains most frequently being the main motivator, a fightwriter, or a fightgame journalist in any medium, has to function, many would argue, as a voice of reason. No other sports' chroniclers have such a responsibility and an opportunity to make an impact for the good; keyboard tappers and talkers can rein in some of the freelancers who are operating with no regard for the long term health of the sport, or the fighters, or the fans' wallets. HBO's Max Kellerman, an NYC native who grew up reading the Village Voice, and saw firsthand the positive inroads that forceful journalism can catalyze, took an advocacy stance before the Aug. 2 Joshua Clottey/Zab Judah bout.
He'd talked to Antonio Margarito, just a week after the Real Life Terminator robotically (in a good way) broke down Miguel Cotto, and forced the Caguas Kid to surrender.
Margarito said he wanted De La Hoya or Mayweather next, a megadollar megafight that would secure him and his family financially for a generation or three. Kellerman took the ball that Margarito handed to him, and ran with it.
TSS chatted with Max about his commentary, in which he directed remarks to the “retired” Floyd Mayweather, and his view on the necessity, or lack thereof, of fightwriters acting as a conscience or sherriff in a sport that has always needed more of each.
Q) Max, was the call for Mayweather to either stay retired, if boxing is out of his system and he's content on the sidelines, or fight
Margarito, something you debated to do or not do internally, because it was such a direct address? Is this something you want to do more of, and do you feel that is a role an analyst should always fill?
Max) I've done this a lot on broadcasts, said who should fight who. I talked to Pavlik, through the camera, and said he was the Godzilla, compared him to Hagler as he was waiting for the smaller guys to move up, and said how Hagler cleaned out the division while he waited. The timing for the latest statement was appropriate because Margarito had just mentioned De La Hoya and Mayweather. I view my position as being a consumer advocate. At it ESPN it was the same. There, I was talking about Ike Ibeabuchi every week, while everybody was talking about Michael Grant. I talked about Juan Manuel Marquez, who'd been getting ducked. I talked a lot about Zab Judah, when Zab was ignored, but maybe everyone else was right on that one!
Q) Other advocacy stances you recall doing?
Max) On the Wlad/Vitali Sam Peter/Maskaev situation, and the sanctioning bodies. It's a question of, do you believe in advocacy
journalism, period. And as so far I'm perceived as a journalist…I have a point of view. I'm not there to simply record events. And I'm a consumer myself.
Q) So was the message to Mayweather scripted ahead of time?
Max) We had some ideas, several different ways to go depending on how it went with Margarito. In rehearsal, there was a strong reaction to the message to Floyd. But I've done that advocacy a lot, you just have to be honest in the way you feel. You have to capture what's going on in the moment. We had to know, with Margarito just having beaten Cotto, what was the real issue as we talked to him.
Q) So reiterate, what's the message to Floyd?
Max) Before Margarito/Cotto I thought Floyd was justified in saying there's no real mandate for him to fight anyone at welterweight. Cotto you could argue was creating one, but he was still in the process of creating one. Margarito, the way he won, created a mandate to fight the top guy. The top guy, fairly or unfairly, since he's stated he's retired, is Floyd Mayweather. People like to talk about mandatories, that's what they're about. Margarito created a mandate to fight Floyd.