Kody Mommaerts, 28, holds the distinction as the youngest announcer in professional boxing. Nicknamed “Big Mo,” the American may not yet be familiar to fight fans like icons Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon Jr. Give him time. If he’s got anything to say about it, his career is about to catch fire like a match in dry brush.
If you’re one of the millions who subscribed to Peacock to watch the NFL playoffs, you can see all 6-foot-7 of the Boxxer Promotions talent on Saturday, February 3, working the Joshua Buatsi vs. Dan Azeez card from the OVO Arena Wembley in London. The card starts at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Haven’t seen Big Mo in action yet? Here’s a taste.
NY Fights got to know more about Big Mo in a recent interview.
As a competitive athlete pursuing combat sports in his youth, followed by college basketball and Division 1 football for the University of Northern Colorado, Mommaerts had a front-row seat getting schooled in sports broadcasting. With an outgoing personality and a big voice to match, he started announcing small gigs at college events, banquets, and local promotions.
Using the same drive, allowing him to graduate early and become an award-winning MBA student at the Montfort College of Business, Mommaerts earned his Sweet Science degree. But in his first pro gig for regional mixed martial arts promoter Sparta in Colorado, he admits he wasn’t all that good.
“I was way over the top,” laughs Mommaerts. “But a couple of managers and coaches said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a good voice, you seem very passionate. Maybe you should try pursuing this.’
The “Big Mo” Brand
While getting more work and finding his voice, Mommaerts created his brand. He named himself “Big Mo” and started wearing sunglasses in the ring as an attention-getter. It worked.
“I recognized that I was the only young person doing it,” said Mommaerts, leaning on his business education. He then moved on to social media. “And clips started going viral, and I started to get attention.”
Fans thought Big Mo might be Buffer’s son. Fan videos speculated that Big Mo might be Michael Buffer’s son “because I’m a white guy with slicked back hair.” For the record, it's NOT true.
His first break came through bare-knuckle promoter BYB Extreme. He worked with former UFC announcer Mike Goldberg, who became a mentor and was introduced to former world champion and ProBox commentator Paulie Malignaggi and multi-network talent Claudia Trejos.
Big Break With Ben Shalom’s Boxxer
Mommaerts took on an assignment in Dubai announcing a six-round boxing exhibition between strongman competitors Eddie Hall of England and Hafthor Bjornsson of Iceland. It got the attention of Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom.
Shalom is the youngest person to secure a promoter’s license in Britain at age 23. Now 29, he’s a contemporary of Mommaerts, and it's not surprising the two are working together.
“We believe in the power of boxing and the next generation,” says Shalom. “Our focus from day one has been to bring inclusivity, innovation, and entertainment to one of the oldest sports in the world.
“We want BOXXER to be a force for good within boxing and have a positive impact on repositioning the sport for its long-term health and success.”
An inquiry via Twitter led to Mommaerts' gig working for the UK-based promoter. His first assignment was on the July 30, 2022, card featuring Chris Billam-Smith and Isaac Chamberlain. Surprisingly, Big Mo’s American accent became a selling point, perceived as more “international.”
“America is that very diverse melting pot country. That, I guess, just gives it a big fight feel,” said Mommaerts. “And now, I guess that allows me to live my own version of Ted Lasso, the American that's hanging out in the UK. I'm very, very thankful for it,” calling it an amazing ride.
As he preps, Mommaerts speaks with fighters, taking care to get names right and asking if they have special requests. Working with light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi, Mommaerts was stunned to find out his Ghanian surname had been mispronounced his entire career. “It’s actually pronounced ‘Bwah-chay.’ But he just kind of always let it fly for so long because it's simpler than correcting everybody.”
Getting The Fans Involved
Mommaerts doesn’t consider this the toughest part of his job. Instead, he works hardest to get fans involved. He believes he occupies a unique position where he can add to the enjoyment of each event, which becomes critically important in the streaming era with more entertainment options for fans.
“I'm the individual that talks to both the crowd that's in the arena, and also the crowd that's watching at home. I have to do a good job because, ultimately, I'm the consistent person throughout the broadcast. I can help set the stage of the event.
“Your competition is any other form of content that someone could engage with or watch instead of your show,” explains Mommaerts. “Then the challenge for Sky (Sports), for Boxxer, for NBC and Peacock is – is our product worthy enough to get someone to sit down and watch it? Part of that responsibility falls on myself. The most difficult part of my job is ultimately engaging with a crowd and making them feel comfortable enough to engage with the show.”
“Don't get me wrong. I think introductions can be difficult. I think memorization can be difficult. Truthfully, those things come pretty easy to me. The difficult thing is, okay, this crowd is starting at a zero.
“Ultimately, how can I take that atmosphere or help take that atmosphere and ramp it up for the main event?”
Bringing Millennials and Gen-Z Back To Boxing
Boxing’s current challenge is its aging audience. Younger sports fans have multiple options and aren’t turning to boxing, especially in the U.S. with so much competition for their attention. Mommaerts says it’s his goal as one of the youngest Millennials to bring as many people to combat sports as he can.
“I was one of the few people in my friend group that liked combat sports,” says Mommaerts. “Most of my friends had no idea what was going on. Most of my friends couldn't tell me what a 10-8 round is, or what a split decision is, or what a TKO versus a KO is, or anything like that.
“But what they could relate to was the spectacle of the event. In my opinion, especially with the job that I'm in, I believe that I can influence that.”
Don’t Call Them Casuals
Mommaerts says hardcore boxing fans need to be engaged and cultivated over time. He’d like it to start by banning the term “casual.”
“I hate the term casual. What it immediately does is demean people that may not be as involved in the sport as the hardcore people. What percentage of NFL fans are casual? Most of them. Most people watch one NFL game a year, and that's the Super Bowl.
“The average football fan may watch a few games throughout the year. None of them could tell me what a cover 2 defense is … they understand enough, and the product is engaging enough to keep them entertained.”
Mommaerts says boxing must simplify the viewing experience. “If you can craft a narrative that appeals to the average viewer versus the hardcore viewer, that's how we can get more people involved.”
Mommaerts is doing his part to work on stage in different industries, with the goal of getting even a handful of people intrigued about what he does enough to attract them to watch a card.
Sponge Bob, Fury vs. Wilder, and Mayweather
“As we're trying to engage new people, we also need the product to appeal to them. Right? I think a perfect example of this is the NFL does games on Nickelodeon every year. Why are they doing that? Because if they can show football to a six-year-old by having SpongeBob explain it, it automatically makes the product more easily consumed by a different audience.” Perhaps this makes Jake Paul boxing’s Sponge Bob.
Mommaerts believes more fights are needed, like the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder trilogy. “I look back very favorably on that fight and really what it helped do to kind of get some juices flowing in boxing again,” also naming the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and Mayweather vs. De La Hoya as the spectacles boxing needs.
“Mayweather McGregor, truthfully, because of just the sheer the sheer scale … it was the first time in my opinion that boxing tried to re-ignite the fans that left boxing for the UFC, which I think is a whole interesting case study on its own.
“The 18 to 35 demographic is the hardest demographic to reach. I'm right in the middle of it. If there's anyone that understands that demographic it’s me. So, let's work together on this. Let's build a product that appeals to everybody.”
Buatsi vs. Azeez Preview
Big Mo looks forward to Saturday’s Boxxer card featuring two undefeated light heavyweights. “We’ve got two of the top five in the whole division across any ranking – IBF, WBA, WBO, WBC. They're fighting each other. I think it's a great fight.”
Buatsi (17-0, 3 KOs) and Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) were set to meet in October, but a back injury suffered by Azeez forced the postponement of the all-British showdown. “All this buildup has made them have a little bit of animosity towards each other. So that'll be interesting to see how that plays out.”
On the undercard, Adam Azim (10-0, 7 KOs) makes the first defense of his European Super Lightweight title against undefeated former champion Enock Poulsen. Aziz, age 21, hopes to become the youngest British World Champion, beating Amir Khan's record.
Mommaerts Bets On Boxing’s Future
“You see NBC back in boxing. You look at Boxxer, they've got the Sky (Sports) contract. Sky and NBC are both owned by Comcast. There's immediate synergy between the two broadcasters, which I'm not sure we've ever seen before. It's two of the biggest broadcasters on either side of the ocean. The work that is being built here is exciting, and I think if you're not a Peacock subscriber, it’s a mistake, or a Sky subscriber in the UK. You are missing out.”
Mommaerts aspires to work the biggest fights in front of big audiences, but his greater ambition is to become a boxing ambassador to broaden its audience.
“If I can do anything in my career, if I can do anything for this industry, I want to help take the product elsewhere. I think I'm as good of a person to do that because I can speak to a variety of people.
“If I can look back on my career in 40 or 50 years and I can say for sure that I helped take boxing to this industry or I helped bring this industry to boxing or MMA, and I helped bring this demographic of people because of this show that we did or because of this introduction that I did or because of this, then that's how I'll look back on my career favorably.”