As the end of the year approaches, HBO Boxing Insiders take a look back at the fights that aired on the network and HBO PPV in 2015. Here, they make their selections for their favorite HBO Boxing Moments.
* We are firemen.
* Most aspects of Mayweather-Pacquiao. In fact, pretty much the entirety of the promotion, up until the fight.
* Some of the most absurdly, ridiculously, enthusiastically loud crowds you could hope for: Canelo-Kirkland, Golovkin-Monroe, Crawford-Jean, and Canelo (again)-Cotto, among others.
* Getting a chance to be ringside for Chocolatito fights at long last.
* Eliciting a smile from Miguel Cotto on two separate occasions.
* Interviewing Wladimir Klitschko and appreciating that the former heavyweight champ is more eloquent in his fourth language than many people are in their first.
Eric Raskin: "We are firemen!"
Quite possibly my favorite moment of the boxing year came when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather had their unforgettable little conversation at the Miami Heat game, but technically that moment didn't occur on HBO. So I'll go with Teddy Atlas being Teddy Atlas in his first fight in Tim Bradley's corner, launching into his instant-classic impassioned "We are firemen!" speech between rounds. Did Bradley need a pep talk of any kind as he neared the end of his rout of Brandon Rios? No. But that's Atlas for you. He's there to be a coach and a TV star. The fire doesn't bother him. He lives in the heat.
Nat Gottlieb: Peter Nelson Promotion
The Harvard graduate is the perfect choice to usher in a new era of boxing. With a bevy of young new stars on his plate Nelson is a surefire candidate to bring the glory days of boxing back to HBO.
Diego Morilla: We. Are. Firemen.
Are we really going to have a discussion or a vote about this? Are we splitting hairs here? It's got to be unanimous, and it is clearly destined to be the mother of all HBO Boxing Moments. At first, it may look like an outtake from a Tarantino movie, but in fact it is a moment around which you can build an entire motion picture - and maybe a whole franchise. I am not sure whether we'll live long enough to see a film entitled "The Punching Firemen" coming to a theater near you, but Teddy Atlas' over-the-top corner pep talk to his new charge Timothy Bradley shall live on as one of those moments that Rocky script writers will watch again and again while scratching their heads and wondering "how the hell we didn't think of this first?" Just beautiful stuff.
My favorite HBO moments of 2015 may seem odd, if not chilling. In contrast to Gennady Golovkin, whose bonhomie can be infectious, unified light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is as baleful as a mortician. But Kovalev has something even general sports fans covet: crippling, one-punch power and a take-no-prisoners attitude between the ropes. To see Kovalev grinning like a madman as Jean Pascal stumbled across the ring, groggy, after rising from a knockdown, or watching him taunt Nadjib Mohammedi, on the canvas and in obvious distress en route to being counted out, is to see a fighter whose inner animal seems ready to burst out at any moment. That kind of bloodlust, while it can be considered unseemly by some, is at the dark heart of boxing and part of its elemental appeal. Similarly, Terence Crawford showed that technique combined with zeal is probably the bloodsport ideal when he opened up, often with a sinister grin on his face, against competent but overmatched Dierry Jean in October. The versatile boxer-puncher showed a nasty edge against Jean and took risks (along with a slew of flush shots) in order to put on a showstopping performance. With so many fighters likelier to get endorsements from Code Pink than from Everlast these days, it was refreshing to see a talented professional determined to put the "action" into an action sport.
Bob Canobbio, President and Founder of CompuBox:
The atmosphere at the Mayweather-Pacquiao weigh-in was unparalleled for me in 30 years in the business.
Frank Della Femina:
My favorite HBO Boxing moment has absolutely nothing to do with a fight, other than the fact that I was in an arena to watch one. During the April 18th split-site broadcast of Crawford vs. Dulorme and Matthysse-Provodnikov, you may remember the announcing team make mention of a tornado warning in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Naturally, that's where I was out of the two locations. As a native east coaster I'd never experienced tornado air raid sirens. So when I heard the commotion picking up and the instructions to take cover in hallways, curiosity got the best of me as I tried to steal a look outside. I pushed open the giant steel doors and the thing nearly came off the hinges. Immediately I imagined myself taking off into the vortex like Helen Hunt's father during the opening scene in Twister. As I watched steel fence barricades slide across the pavement, a kind-hearted security guard (likely cursing me under his breath) ran over and assisted me with sealing the hatch once again. It took the strength of two grown men to do it, but upon completion I could read the phrase "You're an idiot" in his eyes.
Frank Miller: Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez Embrace
So many great picks this year, Teddy Atlas' firemen speech to Timothy Bradley on his stool, Vargas' triumph over Miura. My pick is the final bell of Cotto-Canelo. Alvarez—with open arms—walks over to Cotto who embraces him. The two share a few words and Cotto kisses Canelo on the forehead. I hope I'm wrong but the moment had a "passing of the torch" type feel with Cotto exiting with such grace and class. The exchange displayed respect and sportsmanship at its best.
Michael Gluckstadt: Mayweather-Pacquiao Weigh-in
At the culmination of a week of intense work, months of planning, and years of anticipation, I finally took a moment to appreciate the magnitude of the event and realized it was the biggest thing I'd ever seen. Tens of thousands of people showing up to a weigh-in for the most eagerly awaited fight in most of their lives. This wasn't the celeb-studded Page Six crowd the main event turned out to be (I met a real live Jonas brother there), but actual fans of the sport coming out in droves. The fight itself might have been a disappointment, but the Vegas atmosphere was not.
A runner-up moment from that fight week came in the post-fight press conference, when a clueless British reporter asked if Mayweather would "finally" now fight Amir Khan. An exasperated Mayweather sighed and complained, "I JUST fought Manny Pacquiao," and for a very short split second, I felt for the man.