I recently had a chance to speak with legendary boxing commentator, ‘Colonel’ Bob Sheridan, following his induction into the Nevada boxing Hall of Fame. Bob Sheridan has been calling fights for several decades now in a career that has seen him witness the likes of Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and Mike Tyson.
A variety of topics were discussed in this interview, including Bob’s entrance into the broadcasting business, the current state of Australian boxing, the upcoming Hopkins-Kovalev fight and Manny Pacquiao’s scheduled match with Chris Algieri. Here is what ‘The Colonel’ had to say.
Robert Brown: You’ve been calling world title fights since 1968, can you tell us how your love of boxing started and how you got into it?
Bob Sheridan: I got into calling fights way back in the 60’s. I was working for a radio station that wanted to broadcast the boxing from Chris Dundee’s weekly shows. As a young broadcaster I got an awful lot of experience calling ten fights a week, four times a month, about twenty years of calling those fights and in between I started in television.
In 1968 was my first world title fight, which was Jimmy Ellis and Jerry Quarry. That led to working in the early days of satellite television where you could now beam live telecast around the world.
By 1974, I did the ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ the famous Ali-Foreman fight when Muhammad Ali won the title back from George Foreman. Then of course the following spring was the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ between Ali and Joe Frazier, which was voted the fight of the century — although I don’t know if it really was, but it was voted that way by Ring magazine.
I’ve had an extraordinary opportunity to broadcast so many great world title fights. In fact my next one will be 976, that’s an extraordinary amount of fights, but it spans almost 45 years. It’s been some run for me and I was recently inducted into my fourth boxing Hall of Fame — the Nevada Hall of Fame — and in a great class with Sonny Liston and George Foreman, Roberto Duran, Evander Holyfield and Cornelius Boza-Edwards. That was a huge thrill for me.
Robert Brown: We probably have more Australian world rated fighters now than ever had in history but unfortunately, except for ‘King’ Sam Soliman, all the Australians that have come up against world class fighters, have lost. What do you think the rest of the world thinks of Australian boxing at the moment?
Bob Sheridan: You mentioned Sam Soliman as the IBF reigning champion, so with that goes the status of being a world champion. I think when people think of Australia in recent years, they think of Danny Green and going back a decade or so, they think of Jeff Fenech.
Australia has produced a lot of really good fighters over the years but it’s very difficult when you leave, Australia is such an isolated place, at least that’s the thought of the people in the United States. Australian fighters do very well in Pacific Asia and the South Pacific, they are more than competitive in all weight classes out in that part of the world.
When it comes to the world scene, even in the United States, we don’t have as many world champions in the United States as we once did — it seems like the Eastern European fighters are doing so well, and always in the lighter weights you have the Latino fighters, the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans.
It’s not unusual for people not only in Australia but other countries around the world, to have wonderful records in their local country, then they come to the United States and fight the very best in the world and they come up short. That’s just the way boxing is in the world today.
Robert Brown: I’d like to get your thoughts on a couple of big fights coming up. Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev, what are your thoughts on this fight coming up?
Bob Sheridan: Well, he’s gonna have his hands full with Kovalev because he’s right in the prime of his career and he’s a very good champion, very aggressive, but Bernard Hopkins is so ring savvy, he’s so smart. Toss out his age cause he’ll be in terrific shape, he’s never taken a lot of punishment in the ring.
This is a freak of nature, a guy that’s not only competitive, he’s a world champion and now he’s gonna attempt to unify titles at the age of 49, almost 50 years of age. It’s never happened before in boxing, and it doesn’t matter what happens, Bernard is gonna make a lot of money for this fight and that’s what professional boxing is all about.
He’s accomplished things that no other fighter in the history of boxing has accomplished, which makes him like the race horse Secretariat, he’s one and two and by himself. He’s just an absolutely extraordinary athlete and a guy who lives a clean life outside the ring and has never been hurt inside the ring, so he’s been able to compete with the very best until the ripe age of 49. If he can beat Kovalev, that’s a feather in his hat, but he’s gonna have his hands full in trying to accomplish that.
Robert Brown: Do you think Kovalev just might break Bernard’s run this time?
Bob Sheridan: That’s the way I would look at it, but let me tell you something, there’s been a lot of fights that Bernard has gone into that I thought the same thing and I’ve been wrong because again, this guy is a freak of nature. He’s everything that I just described, it makes him the great champion that he is.
If he wins this fight, it wouldn’t surprise me, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. But at some stage it’s gotta end and I think that this could be it, but again I could be very wrong, as I’ve been so many times before involving Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins has a defensive manner in which he doesn’t take any punishment and in the mean time he seems to do just enough to win a lot of close rounds in a fight, and that’s how he gets these decisions.
Robert Brown: Manny Pacquiao is fighting Chris Algieri coming up, what are your thoughts on this fight?
Bob Sheridan: Manny Pacquiao is very, very quick and Algieri is a fighter that likes to fight from the outside a lot. If they engage, I think that Manny Pacquiao still has plenty left and that he’d be able to catch up with Algieri, but Algieri pulled off a major upset in his last fight, so who knows. That’s why he got a shot at the mega box in fighting Manny Pacquiao.
I think that this is a good fight and it’s an interesting fight and people are gonna find just how good Algieri is in this fight. I’ll be broadcasting that fight and I’ll be looking forward to it. I think it’s a competitive fight, I think it’s an interesting fight and Manny Pacquiao is at the back nine holes of his career, we’ll see what happens.