A longtime football announcer, a two-time world champion boxer and an esteemed trainer walk into a bar—stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
Actually, the three of them are walking into the broadcast booth Saturday for the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on CBS, calling the action when 175-pound world champion Adonis Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) takes on Sakio Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs) in Quebec City at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT.
Veteran announcer Kevin Harlan will call the blow-by-blow. The 30-year NFL broadcaster and longtime pro and college basketball voice worked the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Mathis Jr. bout for Fox in 1995 and has also called several championship events on radio.
Harlan will be joined by host Brent Stover of CBS Sports Network; two-time world champion Paulie Malignaggi, who will provide analysis; and respected trainer Virgil Hunter, who will be making his broadcast debut as an analyst.
“Someone like Virgil Hunter who’s [the 2011 Boxing Writers Association of America] Trainer of the Year and works with some of the best fighters of today,” Malignaggi said, “you’ve always got to respect a guy like that who’s had that kind of success and created such a broad spectrum of champions with different styles.”
Speaking of styles, Malignaggi has already taken a close look at how Stevenson and Bika match up. Bika is stepping up in weight from 168 pounds for this fight, but that doesn’t make it a walk in the park for Stevenson, Malignaggi said.
“I think it’s a very dangerous fight for Adonis Stevenson,” he said. “Bika has never been an easy out for anybody. He’s faced the best in the world and, yeah, the best in the world may have beaten him, but he’s always forcing them to grind out a physically tough fight and he’s given some of his own shots. If Bika starts with that physical, grinding style, I’m curious to see how Stevenson handles that.
“Stevenson is not invincible. He has that ‘Superman’ moniker, but it’s more on the offensive side. He goes down. He was down as recently as two fights ago. Bika’s a guy who’s going to hang in there, and the longer he makes the fight last, obviously the more chances he has to hit him. It’s a tough fight to call. It’s not a gimmie.”