Who will win the big fight on 2 May? We are not talking Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Manny Pacquiao here, but the battle between the two most famous  ringmasters of ceremony, Michael Buffer v Jimmy Lennon Jnr.

Boxing's version of The Voice is one of the most fascinating aspects of the $300 million showdown in Las Vegas which is to be jointly televised in the United States by rival networks HBO and Showtime.


This brings an intriguing situation. Mayweather is contracted to HBO, who use Buffer as their regular announcer, and Pacquiao to Showtime, for whom Lennon is the main man with the microphone.

So who gets to do the mega-bucks job at the MGM Grand? The likely outcome is a split decision, with 70-year-old Buffer and Lennon, 56,  sharing the honours, each taking turns to announce their own network's fighter.   

This would be a repeat of their duet at the 2002 world heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in Memphis, the only previous occasion in which HBO and Showtime have collaborated on TV coverage.

Then that smoothest of operators Buffer had the famous last words with his celebrated trademark "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" And the probability is that he will do so again once the similarly velvet-tongued  Lennon has told the watching millions "It's Showtime!"

I know both well, having used them as my big fight MCs on several occasions. Lennon worked for me on the O2 bill in London only two weeks ago and among Buffer's many announcing duties here was the David Haye-Dereck Chisora blockbuster at Upton Park.

They are smart, well-travelled and very professional guys and quite rightly they don't come cheap.

Both have made a great living out of welcoming the world to "the main event of the evening."

When Buffer, a one-time car salesman from Philadelphia,  Hollywood actor and model now known as the Voice of Vegas  tells us "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" he is uttering surely the most evocative - and lucrative - five words in sport. The  catchphrase, which has been patented so other MC can't use it, is estimated to have earned him a considerable fortune.

During his 30-year announcing career, the thrice-married, immaculately coiffured Vietnam war veteran has introduced baseball's World Series, ice hockey's Stanley Cup finals, NBA Championships and NFL play-off games, as well as hundreds of fights around the globe. He has also appeared in a number of fight movies as himself, including Rocky. Six years ago he overcame the throat cancer which had threatened his career.

The equally likeable but lesser-known Californian Lennon, a lay Baptist preacher, has built his announcing career in the boxing ring over the past 25 years, following his renowned father into the business. Like Buffer he has been inducted into boxing's Hall of Fame.

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One of the great arts of being a boxing MC is to remain unflappable. This was epitomised by a doyen of the business, the late Chuck Hull. Announcing the Larry Holmes-Muhammad Ali fight at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas he called for silence "while Gladys Knight, of Gladys Knight and The Pips, sings our glorious national anthem." Immediately a shout came from the back of the arena: "Gladys Knight sucks!"

"Nevertheless," intoned Hull. "She will still sing the national anthem."


One of the big successes of the pro-am World Boxing Series tournament -in every sense- is 6ft 6in super-heavyweight Joe Joyce, who has won all his four bouts while representing the British Lionhearts. Note the name.

I like what I hear about the 29-year-old Londoner who has a 2-1 University degree in fine arts and obviously paints a pretty good picture in the ring, having recently gone into the Havana backyard of the Cuban champion Lenier Pero and defeated him.

That's some feat as no other WSB boxer has won in Cuba. A further victory in China last week puts Joyce well on the way to qualification for the Rio Olympics next year, when there is every hope he can emulate 2012's kingpin Anthony Joshua.
Joyce says his role models are Lennox Lewis, Picasso and Van Gogh - all artists on canvas.

The former ABA champion who won Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow last year, was a late starter in boxing but says he may turn pro after Rio should he get "an unrefusable offer." He'll be 30 by then but luckily for him heavyweight boxing doesn't suffer from ageism these days, with the top men now reaching their prime in their thirties.


To say I was disappointed at previously unbeaten Paul Butler's stoppage defeat by IBF world super-flyweight champion Zolani Tete in home-town Liverpool last week is an understatement. It was a massive shock.


I had confidently expected him to become an historic British two-weight world champion but he simply wasn't at the races on the night and was finally caught by a peach of a punch.

Did we underestimate Tete? I don't think so. I had seen him beaten before but Butler just couldn't get going. He never coped with the taller Tete's wide-legged stance and  southpaw style. The South African's legs were so far apart that even when Butler did get past the jab he was leaning so far back he was out of range. He never got into his usual rhythm.

But it is not the end of the world for the Merseysider. He still has one world title, at bantamweight, and can come again. History shows that getting stopped or knocked out does not necessarily signal the end for a young fighter. Amir Khan was battered in less than a round by Breidis Prescott and still went on to become a world champion. Wladimir Klitschko was ko'd three times early in his career and you can go back to Joe Louis and Max Schmeling.

So Butler can take heart. Unless you are Floyd Mayweather or Rocky Marciano, most champions suffer a setback and the most important thing is how you deal with it.


Andre Berto showdown with Josesito Lopez headlines BoxNation this evening with live coverage starting at 2am from the Citizens Business Bank Arena, California. 

Former WBC World Welterweight Champion Berto is looking to get back onto the world title track and needs a win over Lopez this evening, but the hard-hitting Californian Lopez believes he can make Berto the biggest name on his ledger.

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