Color commentator for HBO Boxing and all-time great fighter Roy Jones Jr. loves bickering with cohost Max Kellerman during HBO World Championship Boxing telecasts. When I told him one of my favorite things about watching the network was hearing the back and forth dialogue between the two, Jones Jr. called me out on my roundabout line of questioning.
“No you don’t,” said Jones. “You like to hear me and Max Kellerman argue, and you like to hear me set him straight on that stupid s–t he be saying sometimes. That’s because he’s never been inside the ring before.”
If you’ve heard boxing insiders talk about Jones, you know a few things about him off the bat. First, he’s a straight shooter. He doesn’t mince words and he says what he feels. Second, Jones, according to family and friends, is still the same person he was before he became arguably the biggest boxing star since Muhammad Ali. Fame and fortune has not changed him one bit over the years, and it becomes immediately apparent when talking with him.
Jones likened the exchanges between he and Kellerman to the kinds of things one might hear around a family dinner table.
“It’s just that he says things a lot of times when I’m trying to explain something from a fighter’s point of view, and he won’t settle for that sometimes. So sometimes we will go a little deeper into our argument than we wanted to go. But it’s fun for TV and stuff. I know he likes to get me started, and I like to hear his responses because they get me started. So it’s fun for both of us. I love Max like a brother so it’s like a family argument.”
Kellerman has been part of the HBO World Championship Boxing team since 2007. The team includes Kellerman, host Jim Lampley, unofficial scorer Harold Lederman and a rotating guest analyst spot often filled by Jones.
In addition to his work as a mainstream sports analyst for shows such as ESPN’s First Take, Kellerman is a well-known boxing pundit stretching back to his past work in studio alongside Brian Kenny for ESPN’s long running Friday Night Fights series.
While Jones said he often disagrees with Kellerman’s analysis on fight night, he said the dialogue between the two on air was one of the productions’ most invaluable commodities.
“I love Max to death because I know he’s only speaking from truly a fan’s point of view. But he does speak it, and he will say things that maybe other people are afraid to say because they’re afraid of the way they’ll look. But he’s not afraid of that so he’ll say it anyway.”
Jones said he picks his spots with Kellerman, and he doesn’t try to turn every little thing he disagrees with into an argument.
“If I can correct him, I do. If it’s something out of the world that I know will cause a big argument, I don’t worry about it. I won’t even open my mouth, because I’m not there to argue with him or make someone look bad. I just try to correct him when I know he’ll understand… and it will make him better at what he’s doing, too.”
Jones, however, did admit there was a way for viewers to tell when he was doing his absolute best to hold his tongue. It’s that signature Roy Jones Jr. midconversation laugh.
“I usually laugh when I don’t want to talk because it’s something way out of left field, and I’m not trying to make nobody look bad. That’s my dog. You know? So I’m not trying to blow him up and he’s not trying to blow me up. We’re not there for that. We’re there to talk and let people enjoy our family arguments and keep it moving.”