HBO banks on Lampley putting up his dukes with ‘The Fight Game’

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HBO will give longtime boxing blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley his own series aptly called “The Fight Game With Jim Lampley” starting May 12, one that the network promises will be “a provocative, engaging and informative experience that delves into intriguing storylines, newsmakers and issues that are top-of-mind in boxing.”

Lampley, a part of the HBO family since 1988 (and pictured above with Jim Nantz at a USC panel discussion recently about the Olympics and television), said today that the network has plenty of promotional vehicles in place to market live bouts, so this series is far from that. He’ll have the freedom to explore all issues in the fight-game in a format that could be better compared, he said, to what a Rachel Maddow does on MSNBC.

“Upper management came to me and asked if I would consider doing an all-boxing show that would best service the needs of the network, and if a show like that was going to appear anywhere, it should be at the network that most associate with the sport,” said Lampley, the former KCBS-Channel 2 sportscaster and news anchor living in Del Mar these days working with his own production company.

“At the end of the day, we have enough (on HBO) to air in relationship to the promotional side, but we have a chance here to follow more in the tradition of ‘Real Sports,’ from a network that thrives on the provocative and directly states that. It’s not another promotional vehicle but one that is a candid, straight-forward look at boxing and I’ve been assured we can talk about fights on other networks.

“Think in terms of the immediacy of a cable news channel in a 24-hour news cycle, adding blunt honest. I can’t imagine we’ll shy away (from personal commentary). The opportunity will be there to be editorial and not go out of our way to do it. This is no place to be plain vanilla.”

The first two installments in May and June will air at midnight, following the HBO replay of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight as well as the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight, respectively, to capture a bigger boxing-related audience. Future shows, Lampley said, would air more in the 9-to-10 p.m. time slot.

Lampley readily admits that boxing has remained “a cult sport that rarely breaks out and achieves a real cross-cultural broad penetration. But if you’re a premium pay cable channel and the thing you show live is boxing, you’re dealing with a cult and encouraging that cult to show their adulation and devotion, so you try to amplify that base.”

Emmy nominated filmmaker Peter Berg will serve as one of the executive producers, along with Lampley and HBO’s Rick Bernstein. Lampley was an executive producer on Berg’s recent HBO series “On Freddie Roach.”

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