Jim Lampley, it is safe to say, is not a fan of social media.

“I’m a member of a tiny and increasingly pitiful minority who believe that almost anyone who pays significant attention to social media should be worried about their state of mind,” the veteran broadcaster, working for PPV.com, told BoxingScene in a recent interview. 

“I think that I’m as old fashioned as I can possibly be about the flow of information. I think that social media represents, to a certain degree, the demise of civilized society. This is not the way for us to live.”

The subject arises as the former longtime HBO blow-by-blow announcer considers this Saturday’s 140-pound PPV clash between Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“I wonder in my heart and in my head whether this fight would be taking place if social media didn’t exist,” he explained. “I don’t want to denigrate Ryan Garcia, and we’ll find out how talented and skilled a fighter he is now that he’s going into the ring with somebody like Haney. But I do not believe Ryan Garcia would be anywhere near as big a star as he Is in boxing were it not for the influence of social media. But because of the number of clicks he generates, you have to pay attention to him. And you have to include him in the discussion at 135 and now at 140 pounds. And I’m not saying that he’s without talent. Obviously he can throw a left hook. Obviously he has boxing skill. Is he as skilled as Haney? 

“Haney has been in against more proven opponents. Haney is the guy who has a decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko in his duffel bag. Haney is the guy who has bigger credentials going into the fight. 

“But that’s why the fights take place. We’ll find out whether Ryan Garcia is really good enough to match up with a skilled opponent like Devin Haney. We’ll find out whether Haney has just been effectively and carefully matched. But if you ask me who do I think is the logical favorite in the fight? The logical favorite in the fight is Devin Haney because of empirical evidence, and mostly because he beat Vasiliy Lomachenko, whom I think of as the reigning boxing technician of the last 15 or 20 years.”

Lampley acknowledges that Haney, while a skilled and accomplished boxer, may not ever be the kind of pugilist to set the pulse racing. But that doesn’t diminish his effectiveness, he notes.

“Haney has an effective jab,” he said. “He is a skilled counter puncher. He is a limited risk fighter. He has all the qualities that you need to rack up wins and prompt people to doubt you in various different ways. He’s not going to go into the ring and provide easy entertainment for fans or casual spectators. He’s not a ‘hit and get hit’ kind of a fighter. He’s a winning one. He’s an ‘avoid getting hit and then land enough effective punches to score effectively’ kind of a fighter and those guys are very hard to beat. And so I think he is among the hardest fighters to beat in the sport today. Will he sell more tickets than Ryan Garcia over the long haul? Probably not. But you know that that’s just that’s the way the world is. There were a lot of fighters who could never sell as many tickets or as many television hookups as Arturo Gatti, but could have beaten him in the ring because they were better boxers.”

The Haney-Garcia card will mark Lampley’s latest outing offering text commentary for fans who purchase the pay per view via PPV.com. It is a very different role for the man who spent more than a quarter-century as the voice of HBO Boxing, but he says he is now “getting a little bit more comfortable with the process.”

“I am not the world’s most electronically adept or digitally adept person,” he admitted. “So there was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but the brilliant executive in charge of PPV.com realized after the very first outing, ‘If we have Jim doing his own texting all the time and rely on him to be digitally functional, we’re gonna lose a fair amount of possible Jim Lampley content.’ So now I have what, in golf terms, I would call a caddy, a really smart caddy who sits next to me and I just speak, I dictate to him what it is I want him to put into the chat. And you know, that makes me privileged. And it’s been working out very well.”

After so many years of being the “traffic cop” and setting up the likes of Roy Jones, Andre Ward, and Emanuel Steward to provide expert analysis, the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster “wasn’t sure that I would have enough to say to contribute to a legitimate, broad based discussion of the events.” 

But, he adds, if anything, “it’s turned out to be the opposite. I have to edit myself and not make a comment every 20 seconds.”

Sadly for fans of Lampley’s often legendary commentary, he has resigned himself to his skills with the microphone being consigned to the past.

“People still ask the question, in media and of me, ‘Why aren’t you calling fights? Who is going to hire you to call fights?’ I know enough now to know that I’m not coming back. And there is no entity at this moment which is interested in having me be a ringside blow by blow commentator. 

“So therefore, I’m totally committed to doing the best I can do for PPV.com. Because it gives me the privilege of coming back and being at the fights and talking to fighters and talking to people like you.

“I’m back at ringside. I’m in the media room, I’m seeing my buddies, et cetera. All of that is terrific, and I’m very happy and satisfied with it.”

Kieran Mulvaney has written, broadcast, and podcasted about boxing for HBO, Showtime, ESPN, and Reuters, among other outlets. He also writes regularly for National Geographic, has written several books on the Arctic and Antarctic, and is at his happiest hanging out with wild polar bears. His website is www.kieranmulvaney.com.

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