By Sean Crose
Jim Ross is back, folks. Only this time he’s broadcasting boxing for Golden Boy Promotions on Fox Sports 1. Ross, for those who don’t know, is a long established broadcaster dating back to his college days. What he’s most famous for, however, is his work on televised wrestling. In fact, the man’s been a WWE Hall of Fame member since 2007. That’s no small feat when you realize just how lucrative and popular wrestling is.
Frankly, it was shrewd of Fox and Golden Boy to add Ross to their ranks. He’s a colorful figure, after all – a guy said to be loaded with facts and stories. In other words, he’s someone who could draw in new fans.
Let’s not forget that we live in a bombastic age. Both the WWE and the UFC deliver in the noise and bluster departments – and it works quite well for them. My guess is that Fox and Golden Boy were looking for a cross between Joe Rogan and Larry Merchant when they picked up Ross. For a good boxing broadcaster has to be knowledgeable as well as entertaining.
Yet it’s the knowledge part that’s causing some to worry. For Ross is widely known as a wrestling man, not an expert of the sweet science. How, these people are asking, is Ross suddenly going to develop the encyclopedic recall of a Max Kellerman? Just who, you can hear these people saying, does this guy think he is?
The answer is he’s a professional broadcaster – and a good one. Fox and Golden Boy are exceedingly successful outfits. They wouldn’t pay a man like Ross good money if they didn’t think they were onto something. The fact that fight fans were buzzing about Ross’ imminent debut on Monday night’s card alone was worth at least part of their initial investment.
Plus, while it’s true the man may not completely be up to par as an analyst yet, you can be sure he’s doing his homework. It’s very doubtful that someone like Ross will want to tarnish his reputation so deep into his career. Mayweather isn’t the only figure around afraid of getting a check in the “L” column, after all.
And let’s throw something else out there while we’re at it: Ross had to have been drawn to boxing to begin with. Even if financial hardship were to have led him to his latest employer – and I’m certainly not saying or implying it did – he had to have had an emotional connection to the the sport from the start. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he have turned to something like college football, or hoops, instead? It’s certainly not like the man’s unemployable.
Still, Ross will have to deliver the goods if he wants to keep his new gig. If Monday night’s broadcast is any indication, he’s off to a good start. Sure, he might not have been as colorful as he was ringside at those WWE matches, but he’s just getting his feet wet. Give the man some time.
Besides, boxing and wrestling are two entirely different things. Ross will most likely never bring his old persona into the world of boxing – at least not entirely. That doesn’t mean he won’t still be good ol JR, however. It will just mean good ol JR’s now working in a different venue.
And I’m actually looking forward to it. Whether it’s Howard Cosell or Teddy Atlas, boxing has a history of unique characters who have called the shots from ringside. Ross may well prove to be a solid edition to that larger than life group. Like the boss here at Boxing Insider says, though, he has to keep the cowboy hat.
It’s just not JR without the cowboy hat.