ESPN’s boxing announcers initially will call the network’s live events in June from a studio and their homes.
Joe Tessitore, ESPN’s blow-by-blow announcer, will call at least the Top Rank cards scheduled for June 9 and June 11 from a studio inside the cable conglomerate’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Tessitore’s broadcast partners – analysts Timothy Bradley and Andre Ward, and insider Mark Kriegel – will join Tessitore for those initial post-pandemic broadcasts from their respective homes.
Tessitore, Bradley, Ward and Kriegel eventually will call fights from ringside, but that timetable hasn’t been established. ESPN’s roving reporter, Bernardo Osuna, will provide live coverage during those first two telecasts from inside the venue, MGM Grand’s Conference Center Ballroom in Las Vegas.
UFC’s announcers have called fights from inside venues since the mixed martial arts promotional company began providing ESPN Pay-Per-View and ESPN shows again May 9 from Jacksonville, Florida.
“That’s a temporary thing,” promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com in reference to ESPN’s announcers calling fights from outside of the venue. “A lot of that had to do with the dangers of travel and so forth. Because the ESPN crew, when they come in, are staying in the bubble for two months. So, eventually, I think Joe and the rest of them will be in the arena. I know that Bernie [Osuna] and [Top Rank announcer] Crystina [Poncher] will be in the arena from the beginning. They will be able to interview the fighters and that kind of stuff.”
Unlike UFC, media won’t be permitted to cover at least the first couple ESPN/Top Rank shows from inside the venue, either. Like everyone else involved in those shows, media would be subject to extensive testing for COVID-19 once credentialed to cover live boxing.
“We’re doing the first week without media,” Arum explained. “And then, assuming everything works out well and we have a handle on everything, we may open it up to three to five media for the second week and gradually increase the number to more than that. But we’re being very, very conservative. We’re working one step at a time.”
ESPN and Top Rank announced the full cards for June 9 and June 11 on Monday (https://www.boxingscene.com/stevenson-caraballo-magdaleno-vicente-full-cards-announced--149235). After nearly three full months without boxing, the companies are expected to produce at least two live events per week for more than two months, well into August.
Only main events and co-featured fights have been revealed through June 23.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.