Boxing fans hate Gus Johnson too

Monday, March 12, 2012

It is hard to get MMA fans to agree on much for long, but Gus Johnson is the exception. MMA fans don’t like him.

When Johnson declared that Seth Petruzelli over Kimbo Slice was “The most incredible victory in the history of mixed martial arts” he probably used up his last chance with the fans. And when he spawned the meme “sometimes these things happen in MMA” in the middle of the infamous Strikeforce Brawl, his standing fell so low that it will in all likelihood never recover.

Now the boxing blog is reporting that Johnson is bringing similar coverage to boxing.

This past weekend saw him give what may have been his career worst performance during the Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Orlando Salido rematch. In a fight that was as easy to understand as any, he forced himself onto the viewer and detracted from the broadcast. The lowlight was clearly his screaming of “NUTS AND GUTS, FOLKS!” during a dramatic exchange in the classic ninth round. It’s a line he has used before and seems to keep in his back pocket at all times now, hoping to bust it out should two men choose to put the fight on the line and exchange power shots.

Lines such as “nuts and guts” serve as such a distraction from the action at hand and attempt so hard to force attention onto the booth that they should be a fireable offense. But this continued attempt to turn a brutally undramatic bellow into a trademark catchphrase was only one of a litany of offenses perpetrated on the ears of poor boxing fans this past Saturday night. When he wasn’t repeating the same line over and over he was constantly yelling at you. There’s just no subtlety to his game.

It was the performance as a whole that was a true horrorshow though. The random moments of shouting, the forced narrative, the tripping over his own thoughts. It’s time for Showtime to move Gus out of the combat sports booth.

Johnson is by most accounts a compelling broadcaster of traditional sports, perhaps most notably basketball. Like the athletes he covers, not everyone can be terrific in everything. Michael Jordan famously tried his hand at baseball, and struggled in the minor leagues. Brock Lesnar didn’t last a season in the NFL. Jerry Rice finished 150/151 entrants in his golf debut, and retired after being DQed in his second.

For the sake of all parties involved, Gus Johnson should avoid covering combat sports. Then MMA fans can go back to agreeing on nothing.