FAREWELL HBO BOXING: MSG To Host Final HBO Championship Telecast Tonight, But What A Run!

July 11, 2020



Simon Ruvalcaba

HBO Championship Boxing nights was what  drove the butterflies in my belly as a kid! Usually one Friday or Saturday a month between 6:00 or 7:30 P.M. (Pacific) start time had me in my ritual of anticipation all day leading up to fight time! Whenever I woke up, which we all remember the childhood days where we would be in bed til noon on a weekend, I would wake up, make sure we had cable that day (evidence that I did grew up poor) and clean the t.v. screen with a softly damp, soaped cloth and wipe it with a dry hand towel. I bet my siblings will remember those days as they would ask me why I was cleaning the t.v. along with centering the position of the screen to be facing my chair! I would be careful to step out of the house, calculating to make sure that whatever was going on, that I would be back in time for the fights!

Fight time would arrive, and HBO’s theme would start with “The following is a presentation of HBO Sports” Then the trumpet sound (tun-tun, tun,tun,tun…tun,tun,tun,tun,tun) as Jim Lampley would start the intro. Welcoming the audience to wherever they where at and getting us prepared for what we where about to witness! They would talk about the champion headliner, show the prefight profile of the fighter. When I replay fights to this day I still play from the start as those prefight stories and the spectacle of the sport has always intrigued me! Then they would get into talking about the challenger, which in the pre internet days, you’d often would have knew nothing about the opponent? Jim would turn to broadcast partner Larry Merchant and ask the familiar “Who is he and what is he doing here” were Larry would then indulge the viewer about the challenger. Then after the challenger’s profile story, they would show punchstat and tale of the tape stat info, where Harold Ledderman would go over the rules and once he excitedly said “Jim!” They would go into the ring walk of the challenger and then fight time was within minutes!

I do remember Barry Tompkins with the “How do you like it?” and the “We have a new era in boxing!” but for the most part of my life, It was Lampley, Merchant, Ledderman along with whoever the expert commentator was? (Leonard, Foreman, Jones, Jr., Ward) It was the early days of championship boxing that stirred my love for the game, as often times my Dad, Uncles and the rest of their drinking buddies would be at the apartment watching the bouts! Memorable for me was also such fights as May 22, 1993, my 15th Birthday. I attended the memorial service of a childhood friend, Carissa Ann Frick (who’s initials C.A.F. I would have on my boxing trunks for years after) and then I was back home that evening for Roy Jones vs Bernard Hopkins 1 and Riddick Bowe’s title defense against Jesse Ferguson. Many other fight nights I will never forget about the bout or events of the date!

I hope that Daniel Jacobs, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Alberto Machado, Yuandale Evans, Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent truly realize what they are a part of tonight? The latter two fighters a first for HBO as they showcase a Women’s title bout for the first time in prime time! I look forward to a great show one last time and also the call tomorrow to cancel my HBO subscription with hopes that someone, someday resurrects HBO Boxing. However, since August 25th 1998, I’ve been waiting for USA Tuesday Night Fights to return! All good things must come to an end, but when they do, it sure is a testament that my generation is getting old…enjoy the fights and thank you HBO for so many years of youth!

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