May 3, 2007


The Best Damn Sports Show, Period: The greatness of HBO's boxing documentary De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7. (Robert Weintraub, May 3, 2007, Slate)

The exceptional When We Were Kings was the first mainstream documentary to chronicle the buildup to a big boxing match. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly timely—fans had to wait until 23 years after the Rumble in the Jungle to glimpse the pre-fight antics of Ali and Foreman. Timing isn't the problem with De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7, a four-part, almost-real-time series that HBO's using to hype Saturday's showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The trouble is that the documentary series sets the bar too high. To live up to the ridiculously entertaining promotional vehicle, De La Hoya-Mayweather would have to be the greatest boxing match of all time.

De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7 offers fantastic access to the two fighters as they train, hang out at home, and taunt each other on the publicity trail. This is all tweaked up to the last possible minute—HBO couldn't provide preview episodes late last week because they were still being edited. Liev Schreiber, the narrator, comes in Sunday evenings (presumably after matinees of Talk Radio on Broadway) to voice the show hours before airtime. The tight schedule has made for some very meta moments. The second episode began with Mayweather and his posse watching the first episode.

The show works because both fighters realize that, with boxing's popularity on the wane, a big fight isn't enough to draw eyeballs. You have to, in the inimitable words of George W. Bush, "catapult the propaganda."

That's all well and good, but boxing already has a niche on HBO--oughtn't the show be on ESPN if you're going to bring fans back?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 3, 2007 11:08 AM

Mixed martial arts will probably be replacing boxing in the next decade or so.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at May 3, 2007 12:07 PM

In the movie Say Anything, John Cusack predicted that kickboxing was the "sport of the future" nearly 20 years ago.

Posted by: Bryan at May 3, 2007 12:20 PM

If I want to see burly men with bad attitudes and minimal clothing beating each other senseless, I'll watch the WWF--it has fewer fatalities and is a more honest sport.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 3, 2007 2:17 PM

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is becoming a big draw at bars that show the Pay Per View shows.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at May 3, 2007 3:38 PM