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An Inspection of HBO’s Premiere of “Cornered”

March 7th, 2013 at 11:45 AM
By Sharon Scrima

With the debut of the HBO® companion series to their successful "2 Days" program, "Cornered" brings fans closer to the various characters within the world of boxing who do not lace up the gloves. Ring announcer Michael Buffer was featured in the premiere episode on Tuesday night, kicking off a new behind-the-scenes look from a different perspective.

Much like "2 Days", this 15-minute documentary-style series captures the moments leading up to and involving a weekend of fight activities, in this case the Brandon Rios v. Mike Alvarado battle on October 13, 2012 at the Home Depot Center. We are first taken back to when the prolific ring announcer's career began on October 1, 1982 at the Playboy Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City where a visibly trembling and stiff Buffer introduced light welterweights Ralph Twinning and Michael Bradley. It would have been interesting if the video clip of this introduction was accompanied with sound so viewers could appreciate just how far the charismatic Buffer has come from that initial experience.

The developing Buffer began experimenting with a variety of catch phrases in 1983, including "Ladies and Gentlemen, man your battle stations because we're going to war!". Of course, it was "Let's Get Ready To Rumble!" that ultimately got the most favorable response and that former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson described in the episode as being "the quintessential fight horn". Again, it would have been a nice touch to show a clip containing sound of Buffer's early days using the famous tagline that helped make him become the voice of boxing.

The episode went on to follow Buffer as he prepared for fight night, including a visit to the dressing room of former super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka. While there, the diligent Buffer reviewed his note cards with a member of the fighter's team to ensure proper pronunciation for the main event against Nonito Donaire that evening.  

While the stories Buffer shared about a phone call he received from Cary Grant that he initially believed to be a prank and an interaction he had with Muhammad Ali were enjoyable, the sounds of fight night were perhaps the best moments of the episode. One in particular was an exchange Buffer had with referee Pat Russell about serving in the Army. Another was when Buffer turned to his wife Christine during the Rios-Alvarado action and light-heartedly exclaimed that he was 'exhausted'. It was refreshing to see Buffer in a realistic setting where he was a colleague or fan (and using a normal speaking voice) rather than the celebrity we know him to be.

The format of "Cornered" allows for an endless stream of possibilities with respect to boxing related figures who can be featured in future episodes. Any of the top promoters, referees, trainers and cutmen would make excellent stories. Not that anyone is particularly anxious to give Duane Ford anymore airtime, but it would be rather interesting to feature a judge who can perhaps enlighten us on the mystery of ringside scoring. A good deal of material could likely be covered with the inclusion of a top boxing official, a famous boxing reporter or a professional photographer. Maybe even the life of a ring girl can be thrown into the mix to spice things up further.

Be sure to check out this latest sports programming knockout.

HBO air times include: March 16 (12:30 a.m.), 17 (12:45 p.m.), 18 (11:00 p.m.), 27 (12:15 p.m.) and 29 (12:15 a.m.).

HBO 2 air times include: March 14 (2:05 p.m.), 15 (10:15 p.m.).

All times are ET/PT. Visit the HBO website for a complete schedule.

“Cornered: Michael Buffer” will also be available on the HBO On Demand® service through April 7 and HBO GO®. 

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Tags: Boxing, Brandon Rios, Michael Buffer, Mike Alvarado

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