NEW YORK (Jan. 7, 2009)—Dynamic play-by-play broadcast veteran Gus Johnson of CBS Sports signed with Showtime Networks Inc. to host and call the action on the premium network’s flagship sports series SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, it was announced today by Ken Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Showtime Sports & Event Programming.
Johnson replaces Steve Albert, who has served as the play-by-play voice of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING since 1987. Johnson will work alongside color analyst Al Bernstein on the monthly series.
“SHOWTIME has been on fire for several years—televising some of the most important and evenly matched world title fights in boxing, breaking ground by televising mixed martial arts and adding INSIDE THE NFL to the line up,” said Johnson, who has called boxing for CBS Sports and Madison Square Garden Network. “I am thrilled to join the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING team. And as a division of CBS, my work with SHOWTIME will be complementary to that of CBS Sports.”
Johnson will make his SHOWTIME debut on the first SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast of 2009 – live on Feb. 7 (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) – when the hard-hitting and outspoken Super Flyweight World Champion Vic Darchinyan faces dangerous Mexican champion Jorge Arce, in what is expected to be a thrilling, all-action title fight.
“Gus brings incredible energy and a fresh approach to every broadcast,” said Hershman. “He has the ability to match the intensity of the moment and there are few moments in sports more intense than a hard-fought boxing match. Gus and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING are the perfect match.”
Albert, who will remain with SHOWTIME Sports and fill in for Johnson when his CBS Sports schedule conflicts, said: “I never imagined that when I called my first fight on SHOWTIME back in 1987 that I‘d still be announcing boxing today. But after 21 years at SHOWTIME, 25 years all told in the sport, I thought it was finally time to pull back. I am happy to remain a part of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and also excited to be in the process of pursuing other interests.”
Johnson has served CBS Sports as play-by-play announcer for its coverage of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship since 1995, the National Football League since 1998 and CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS in 2008, among others. He will continue as an active member of the CBS Sports broadcast team.
Johnson is a practicing mixed martial artist who studies Shing Yi Kung Fu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing.
“Having worked with the likes of Gil Clancy, Tony Paige and Steve Farhood, calling the New York City Golden Gloves and the Broadway Boxing series has prepared me for this tremendous opportunity with SHOWTIME,” said Johnson. “And to work alongside Al Bernstein will be a tremendous honor. I have admired Al’s work for so many years dating back to his time at ESPN. He is a boxing historian, a boxing purist and a true fan. Above all, he is a great broadcaster. I think I will learn a lot working with Al.”
“We welcome Gus to the SHOWTIME family,” said David Dinkins Jr., executive producer, SHOWTIME Sports. “When I first worked with him at the 1998 Olympics Games, I was immediately impressed with his talent and unabashed enthusiasm. He brings those same skills to every event he broadcasts. Gus is a longtime fan of combat sports which adds to his presentation of boxing and MMA.”
Johnson’s credits at CBS Sports also include play-by-play for college football, track and field, the Hambletonian, and bobsled and luge at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. He serves as host of AT THE HALF®, CBS Sports’ college basketball halftime studio show, and SPORTSDESK, CBS Sports’ wraparound studio show.
Johnson also is the radio voice of the NBA’s New York Knicks and has provided play-by-play for the Madison Square Garden Network’s coverage of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. He has provided commentary for MSGN’s coverage of the New York City Golden Gloves Tournament.
Johnson also calls college basketball games on the Big 10 Network and has called play-by-play for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, Big East Basketball on the Big East Network, college basketball on ESPN and the Canadian Football League on ESPN2. Prior to joining MSGN, he hosted “Black College Sports Today” on ESPN and was the weekend anchor for WTTG-TV Washington, D.C. (1991-92).
Johnson has a degree in political science from Howard University where he played four years of Division I baseball as a catcher and outfielder. He lives in New York and has one son.