Don’t beat yourself up if you weren’t able to watch last night’s Marquez vs. Pacquiao fight. Although highly competitive and controversial, it never really popped off into a frenzy as in previous fights.
What I really enjoyed though was the post fight work of Max Kellerman who was thrust into the lead interviewing role with Larry Merchant sitting this fight out. This is probably something you’ll see more often going forward as Kellerman has been groomed for awhile to replace Merchant, who is 80 years old. (Although still full of vigor, just ask Floyd Mayweather.)
The awkwardness started as Kellerman inquired if Pacquiao thought he definitively won the fight as it was pretty damn even in most people’s eyes. Unfortunately, the mic cut out abruptly and Kellerman had to restart the interview a minute later when it was clear Pacquiao had spent some time already answering the question.
Another odd issue was Kellerman clearly getting feedback in his ear as he was conducting the interview. After almost every answer that both Marquez or Pacquiao gave, Kellerman would stand there silent for a second or two, clearly listening to some feedback or potential translation before firing off another question. It wasn’t a big deal and some didn’t notice at first, but it seemed to make the post fight interviews seem less natural. I have no clue if Kellerman was being fed questions or what, but it was odd that it kept recurring and was noticeable throughout.
Things only got better from there as Kellerman conducted a locker room interview with Marquez who decided to do the interview naked but covering up with a massive sombrero. It was an odd visual and something that would be a bit of a distraction given the interview could get risque if Marquez lets his sombrero slip. I wonder if Kellerman actually had his non microphone hand ready to catch it just in case. Only in boxing…
HBO then led into a tease of Face-Off for the upcoming Margarito vs. Cotto fight, which was also conducted by Kellerman.
The crowd I was with was excited as Margarito and Cotto seemed to genuinely loathe each other, and understandably so given their history. A classic moment occurred when Kellermen pressed Margarito on why he didn’t give up or have fights stop when severely injured and losing badly.
Margarito answered that he was fine dying in the ring. Cotto laughed off the response and explained his position that he has a family and that there is more to life than boxing. Kellerman’s reaction to Cotto’s reply sticks out as an unintentionally funny moment…
I also love how apparently on Face-Off, you HAVE to sit AC Slater style in your chair. All the previous clips I have of the show have everyone sitting like that and even the HBO logo has the chairs facing the wrong way. Maybe HBO wanted to mix it up and bean bag chairs and massage chairs just didn’t provide the proper effect.
In the end, I’ll take Kellerman over Merchant in this role going forward. There were a couple awkward moments tonight, but Kellerman doesn’t pull punches and knows the sport well. Although there appeared to be some nerves tonight or just odd circumstances (like a sombrero providing cover and preventing the postfight coverage from moving to Cinemax), it seems like now is the time for Merchant to step away and Kellerman to get the first crack at one of the most coveted jobs in boxing.
Hopefully we get to see Kellerman or Merchant do their thing for the fight everyone still wants to see. Judging by the close, controversial nature of last night’s fight, time is running out.