Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat: It’s OK to cry. It’s good to cry. I’m crying right now, mostly about Verne Troyer’s death and how I never got to prove my theory that with enough duct tape and personal lubricant you could fit him inside a Pringles can. But that’s my business.
Tears accumulate in the psyche the way shit does in the gut. They’ve both got to come out somehow and it’s almost always at an Arby’s. The key to a happy life is to know when to hold em’ and when to fold em’. I’m talking about the tears here, not the turds. I think.
Boxing fans have long been aware of former HBO ringside analyst Jim Lampley’s propensity for on-air breakdowns. As deserving an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as there’s ever been and arguably the greatest blow-by-blow man the sport has ever known, Lampley has time and again lost the battle against his emotions while discussing the most pedestrian of boxing related topics.
Have you ever had someone break down crying in front of you over absolutely nothing? Pretty scary, right? Have you ever had someone break down crying right in front of you and continue smiling? Fucking terrifying. Now combine these two and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Lampley’s therapist goes through every week and why he keeps a gun with one bullet in it under his pillow.
The Play-Doh factory at the center of Jim Lampley’s amygdala is so gunked up with boxing knowledge that the intricate system of gears and pulleys which regulate appropriate emotional responses barely even turn anymore. The result is an almost pornographic display of unpredictable psychological confetti. A good night of fights can send him into an Oliver McCall-eqsue emotional tailspin. Conversely, I have to assume, watching a puppy freeze to death on Christmas Eve might elicit an orgasmic standing ovation. It’s a mess in there.
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the strangest things Lampley has, to use a clinical term, lost his God damn shit over. There’s a lot to choose from and I watched them all so please come visit me in the loony bin where I now I live.
Grab some tissues, a pint of Haagen-Dazs and find something to breastfeed. We’re going to dip our oars into an ocean of estrogen and pray to any god who’ll listen for good weather and safe passage. See you on the other side.
#6 – Muhammad Ali babysitting
On the surface this seems like an odd place to start as there is nothing untoward going on here. Mourning the loss of arguably the greatest sports icon the world has ever known with tears and affection is wholly appropriate. However, that’s not what’s happening here. In this moment Lampley is recalling a time when he was so busy he was forced to circumvent numerous international child safety laws and possibly the Geneva Convention by leaving his 8-year-old daughter alone with Muhammad Ali as her sole guardian.
The event he’s describing here took place in 1988. Ali started showing signs of deterioration from Parkinson’s as early as 1977 and was officially diagnosed with the disease in 1984. By the time Lampley left (sacrificed?) his child to be babysat by The Greatest he had been shaking like Sergio Martinez’s vibrator for years.
Now look, I’m not saying that someone suffering from Parkinson’s can’t adequately care for a child. In fact, quite the opposite. But Lampley takes special care here to wistfully recount how Ali passed the time with his first born daughter by showing her magic tricks.
Have you ever seen a good magic trick that didn’t involve fire? Of course you haven’t. Wanna know why? Because it doesn’t fucking exist. Picture the greatest flaming magic trick your mind can conjure up. At any point did your brain go “Man, I wish the guy doing that trick had less control over his hands and was closer to a child?” If it did you’re either reading this from inside a windowless cell with your belt and shoelaces removed or you’re Lampley. Or both.
A situation involving one’s child being imprisoned by a physically unpredictable former fist-fighter obsessed with the dark arts would traditionally culminate with a nameless black ops agent hastily scribbling down plans for a rescue mission on a cocktail napkin before cracking his flip phone in half and throwing the pieces in separate garbage cans. For Lampley it’s cause for nostalgic longing and on-camera gulp-crying.
For a normal person, recalling events this traumatic would lead to an empty bottle of Imperial Blue, a blindfold and a table stained with blood from playing that stab-between-your-fingers-with-a-knife game. That’s what a normal person would do. Lampley is not a normal person.
#5 – Manny Pacquiao beats Tim Bradley…..again
Look, who doesn’t love Manny Pacquiao? I mean, besides drug dealers, gay people, Freddie Roach, the IRS, tattoo artists and his own wife, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about the man. The highlight reel violence Pacquiao has provided us in his nearly 25 year career is practically unmatched in boxing history. He has almost as many brutal, peek-between-your-fingers knockouts as he does mistresses. Almost.
He’s the best, so naturally a bit of emotional histrionics is to be expected when doing a career retrospective of this type after his last fight.
Oh what’s that? This wasn’t his last fight? This was just another dominant yet mostly pedestrian win for Pacquiao over an opponent he’d already bested twice before? (Yes, twice. Shut up about the first fight.)
So what the hell is going on here? Why is Lampley doing the chin-quiver shuffle about a guy simply doing his job? If once and future cokeheads being good at fist-fighting gets him this choked up then please no one tell him about Narcos.
In Lampley’s defense, Pacquiao did timidly claim — with all the confidence of Chris Algieri promising to move out of his parents’ basement, mind you — that this could maybe kinda sorta ok not really be his last fight. Everyone knew that was bullshit though. When you retain the services of NASA to help calculate your tax debt, chances are you’re gonna be sticking around for a bit.
Pacquiao is still going strong today, further enhancing his legacy with every name added to his resume, so I fully expect that when it’s time for a proper goodbye to his career Lampley’s gonna need a Shop-Vac and a series of large industrial fans just to keep his pants dry after he vomits up his own tear ducts.
#4 – Juan Manuel Marquez KOs Manny Pacquiao
This is simply far too much emotional energy to expend on a guy who drinks his own pee. Let’s move on from this.
#3 – Miguel Cotto retires
Have you ever been punched in the face? I have. Guess what? It sucks. Now imagine coming to work every day and having some asshole punch you in the face over and over. Oh and when you’re done doing that you can starve yourself, run eight miles every god damn day, not get laid and deal with literally the shittiest people on earth. Sound like fun? Well then professional boxing is for you!
If you’re not a complete psychopath and the above job description sounds rather undesirable, you’re not alone. The day to day life of a prizefighter is rather demanding and reads more like one of your Aunt Tracy’s bondage-themed romance novels that takes place on a Babylonian slave ship.
Assuming everyone’s stance on being chained to the floorboards of an ancient sailing vessel and anally raped by a drunken slave trader is lukewarm at best, let’s go ahead and conclude that professional boxing is a hard job.
So why in the name of Roy Jones, Jr.’s dick is Lampley so sad that Miguel Cotto is finally getting out of it? Shouldn’t this because for exuberant celebration? This guy that he loves and calls “the most visibly human” fighter of the 21st century is no longer in abject misery and somehow it’s bumming Lampley the fuck out. There’s serial killers strapped to a lethal injection table who would be put off by that level of detachment from basic human empathy.
I imagine Lampley standing at the mouth of the cave that the Thai soccer team was trapped in and sobbing as each child is rescued from the depths of hell by exhausted Navy SEALs. “Those poor kids… they’re no longer suffering one of the single worst fates imaginable,” he would mutter as he attempted throw their lifeless bodies back in.
Lampley opens this monologue by saying, “Boxing is the only sport in which you lose a little bit every time you win.” This is true. Especially when you consider that for all his winning commentary over the years Lampley has, in the process, lost his god damn mind.
#2 – Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward I, Round 9
We’ve all seen this round countless times, right? If you haven’t, bookmark this article and go watch it immediately while the rest of sit here and call you a casual as we rifle through your stuff.
“OK, let’s see… panties, gunpowder, Siberian deer musk, dental dam… dude, what did you have planned for today?!”
OK, so you watched it? You’re all caught up? Did you happen to notice that they kinda sorta beat the entire shit out of each other? And did you also happen to notice that that’s fucking awesome? My guess is that, at the very least, it didn’t turn you into Chris Arreola going through the trauma of McRib withdrawals with the way it did Lampley.
This is the pinnacle of what this sport has to offer — the absolute zenith of sanctioned physical violence. In essence, though, it’s two guys doing what they get paid to do extremely well. Now translate that to any other line of work. Imagine a plumber unclogging the shit out of your toilet, pun absolutely intended. Now imagine you giving that same plumber a glowing recommendation to your wife’s karate instructor and in the process you start fighting back tears and choking on your own snot. He’s either gonna call the cops on you or just crane kick you out of your misery.
Nearly every boxing fan can recite this round punch for punch from memory like some kind of “Good Will Hunting” bar trick with the small caveat that it actually reduces your chances of getting laid by roughly 100 percent. Poontanging prospects notwithstanding, if you ever do find yourself in a “Rain Man” like state, recounting every exchange in chronological in order to a stranger in a bar and that stranger starts trembling and welling up with tears, for the love of god, do not swing on him — for that man is Lampley and he’s uncommonly fragile.
Conversely, if you ever look out your window and see two longshoremen on the corner beating each other unconscious with pipe wrenches and you spot a man in the crowd of onlookers gently sobbing into his hands and smiling… pack up your family and your belongings and move at once — Lampley now knows where you live. May God have mercy on your soul.
#1 – Matthew Macklin recalls Gennady Golovkin’s body punches
Holy hell…..Lampley getting reduced to tears talking about Matthew fucking Macklin pic.twitter.com/vd5UYOOyqG
— DICK HERCULES (@RatCatcherMpls) September 16, 2018
And we’ve arrived at no. 1. This is the Diego Corrales/Jose Luis Castillo of Jim Lampley meltdowns. It’s got a little bit of everything and at the same time a whole lot of nothing, which is the base of any good Lampley’s Lament Chowder.
First off, his blubbering is in regards to more or less bupkis. This takes place after the second Canelo/GGG fight and Lampley is recalling a conversation with former fringe contender Matthew Macklin where Macklin casually mentions that Golovkin maybe didn’t attempt to break Canelo Alvarez’s ribs as much he did Macklin’s when they fought. That’s it. Matthew Macklin didn’t die. His family is fine, or as much as anyone can be “fine” living in the U.K. A fighter simply talking about another fighter throwing punches nearly sent him into an emotional tailspin.
The one common characteristic that all Lampley breakdowns share is that he finds out he’s gonna lose it at the exact same time we do. Unlike most humans, he has approximately zero seconds to prepare for a psychological freak-out. It’s like he’s hired his very own Cato Fong to attack him when he least expects it except IT’S HIS OWN BRAIN. This is scary shit, people.
Besides Lampley’s spiritual breakthrough or whatever, the star of this clip is absolutely fellow HBO commentator Max Kellerman and his inability to mask his alarm at Jim’s fragile emotional state. In the span of about 10 seconds he goes from “Uh dude, where is this going?” to “Oh boy, I do not like where this is going” to “Nope, leave me out of this one” as Jim appeals to him for comfort and concurrence.
In this moment he is a conduit for the viewer’s confusion and discomfort and I’m just realizing right this second that in the process of writing this piece I’ve taken on that role which means I have something in common with Kellerman and now I’m crying.
Pass the tissues.
- It’s not the big name everyone misguidedly hoped for for Oleksandr Usyk’s (16-0, 12 KOs) heavyweight debut but Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) is good fight for the Ukranian psychopath to get his feet wet. Takam is there to be hit and Usyk likes to hit shit and isn’t that kind of the point of this wacky ass sport?
- I’m not gonna link to it because I’ve got my own legal troubles but go dig up the video of Shakur Stevenson’s (10-0, 6 KOs) recent brawl at a Florida gas station in which the 21 year old featherweight gets some hall of fame level sucker punches in on defenseless dude and, oh what the hell, on a couple ladies too. It’s funny because he gets a great Laurel and Hardy esque fall in but man, that kid is going to jail.
- Few people get as excited about anything in this world as I do for an Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) fight. He’s got more screws loose than an Ethiopian fighter jet but he’s hands down the most exciting fighter in the sport. Any time he steps foot in the ring it’s pure chaos and at this point that’s what I’m here for. I can’t wait for him to pot shot Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) for six rounds, get out to a huge lead on the scorecards and then get knocked so unconscious they have to invent a new word for it.
- The new PUP album Morbid Stuff came out yesterday and I shouldn’t have to tell you how much to go buy the absolute shit out of it. And while you’re out, grab the new Control Top record Covert Contracts. No need to thank me. Your disgusting, smiling faces are all I’ll ever need.