By Christopher Nicastro
HBO, in terms of boxing analysis, is often perceived as having one of the best commentary teams in the business. Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Roy Jones Jr. often bring keen insight to the science of bruising and for that they should be given credit where it is due. That said, HBO’s preoccupation with the narrative behind the “new Pound-for-Pound Champion” in boxing has gotten tiresome and frankly was pointless all along.
In the two most recent HBO World Championship Boxing broadcasts, the trio has spent more time dedicated to discussing who the new pound-for-pound best is rather than the actual fight action in front of them. A large majority of Vasyl Lomachenko’s fight against Romulo Koasicha was focused on who has a better argument to the pound-for-pound throne—Lomachenko or former super middleweight king Andre Ward—and whether or not it is premature to name a fighter with a mere six pro bouts and only one credible opponent on his resume as the best in the world.
This spiel thankfully did not spill over into the Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios fight, possibly only because no member of the commentary team considered Bradley or Rios to be apart of the pound-for-pound picture. Lampley, Kellerman, and Jones spent so much time on the topic of the heirs apparent to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s throne, however, that a casual or uneducated fan of the sport might have mistaken it for a serious title, replete with belts. The fact of the matter is that the entire concept of pound-for-pound rankings is completely mythical, a fun parlor game designed to keep antsy boxing fans busy while they await the next high-profile fight. Spending half of an entire broadcast dedicated to arguing over Lomachenko, Ward, Gennady Golovkin, and Roman Gonzalez’s claims to the number one spot is a waste of air time precisely because there will never be a conclusive answer. For the HBO team to act as though Mayweather was ever officially crowned as the best is rather useless, too. Besides Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings and Lampley’s personal pound-for-pound rankings on his talk show “The Fight Game,” there was no certified “proof” that Mayweather was the king of boxing. Those rankings were purely speculative and therefore the entire narrative is moot.
Discussion about mythical rankings can be fun, but let’s keep it off the airwaves, because that’s all they are: myth. They aren’t—and have never been—important.