Mike Costello interview: Boxing commentator on the biggest fights in history | TKO Carl Frampton #15

Joe presents TKO together with 32 red
welcome to round 15 a TKO on Joe together with 32 Webber a podcast and
YouTube show and will be with you every Thursday very pleased to say our guest
today is a man whose voice you’ll recognize very very well indeed he’s
called some of the biggest fights over the last couple of decades on BBC Radio
5 Live none other than Mike Costello pleasure to have you with us thanks for
coming in great to be here and what were we listening to this morning at your
entrance to the the quick fight yeah I love that one I like to listen back
actually the radio stuff you always watch a phage back in TV but I like to
get the radio comedy through whether it’s yourself or even Jim Neely back
home really well sure yeah but we had when I came out against Quig in
Manchester you innovates you in Bertoni value it was me as I get goosebumps
maybe just me listening to things about me but yeah was brilliant descended and
the boys in the group chat but there is something about you painting your own
pictures while you’re listening yeah and revisiting deaf where you were
at the time I completely agree and when was offered 2016 and just over three
years ago get goosebumps about that now yes grid it’s just different the radio
Connery’s different I listen them back that was a really interesting instance
because that was one of those nice if you remember Jim what on sky scored it a
draw and I’m one of the judges as well and people all around ringside kept
turning around and asking me and Tony bell you how we’d scored it and we just
kept saying wide wide wide and what we couldn’t understand you was going but we
just but at that time sometimes that’s when you do have to hold on to what you
believe and your experience and and and just go with what you feel you you are
seeing and not be you know what I say is be a shepherd not a sheep don’t listen
to everybody else around there you know there might be a time when you get it
wrong there was a similar instance just before Christmas with Tyson Fury
I mean we had him winning everything for the first four or five rounds then I get
a message from my producer saying some of the American journalists have got
Wilder in front well turns round Elia what we’re doing at their chairs around
the right way kind of thing it’s you know and that’s
when you as a commentator it takes experience if that had been my first
fight ever I might forget this wrong I can’t get this wrong and they were all
right Jim what and all these guys you’ve been doing it for years so you do you
have to hold on to your nerve you know you have to but also part of your job
presumably is to gauge that the public opinion if there are murmurs around
ringside is it your part your job to deliver that information to the audience
that listening absolutely and that’s what’s changed over as recently as the
last five years you know this this surge of social media interest I know
Twitter’s been around for a decade now but it’s only the last five and six
years that there’s been this this real constant attention during fights and
you’ve had reporters at ringside who are doing live texts and then they’re doing
round by round by round and so there is this this constant need for a tent for
information as it’s actually happening rather than just the general drift of of
how the fights going so we often do say what what others around ringside are
saying about fights and quite often they’re very close and so that’s that’s
worth while we were talking last week about how much social media has changed
the the game with me yeah and it has massively everyone has
an opinion and everyone can not voice her opinion because of social media well
that’s a good thing or bad thing I’m not I’m not quite sure you know Twitter are
you Mike no no the fake one gone about I remember there was a while after that
digging and swearing at Eddie ern and then it started to get dangerous yeah I
mean really calling Eddie Hearn out and it was funny actually it was around the
time of of brexit and and he was in negotiations Eddie was in negotiations
with Jesse Vargas to Mykel brook and because of brexit there’s the value of
sterling weakened against the dollar and so there was this conversation going on
between Eddie Hearn and Bob Arum and Jesse Jesse Vargas about how the terms
might have to change because of what’s happened to the pound against the dollar
and I was getting all this because Jesse Vargas thought he was talking to the ABC
boxing correspondent and therefore wants to get it out
at all of these negotiations so but it was when this guy started to really lean
on Eddie Hearn that I had to and that apparently happened five times before
before they finally the thing is you have you have you think these guys give
a clear when there’s a party account that’s funny and you know it’s a clear
party yeah that’s funny but when someone’s actually impersonating another
person it’s like it’s weird really a lot of time in your hands yeah yeah I think
it was bun see that actually that sort of outed and said just so you will know
Mike hasn’t got Twitter okay war bonds yeah every was Bansi who else had one
that I was following John fury on Furyk yeah there was another fake one
following him course you and Steve do the BBC radio 5 live boxing podcast
every Monday as well and Stevie’s obviously there the quiet one of the TV
you you’ve been working with Steve for for years and years and years of year
the BBC yeah when’s that going to bring do you mean first met him personally it
goes back to when we were kids boxing on the the South London circuit and frankly
we were both failures and that that kind of informs what we do you know we we
worship people like Karl and I meant I can say this happily in his company in a
way that I’m not sure everybody else or many others in the media could because
we were failures down at our you know grassroots club level when they walk to
the ring you know when he’s four or five steps away from our commentary position
I I get this this feeling in the pit of my stomach because I’m like this Walter
Mitty character I wish I was doing what he was doing but I wasn’t good enough I
wasn’t brave enough so that’s where I go back to with Steve and and then we we if
you like we we kind of rediscovered each other through the media through boxing
he started out as if you like a down the table reporter with the Daily Telegraph
and I started with the BBC World Service and and in those early days we had no
idea that we’d one day be going to to Las Vegas or you know outdoors at the
Titanic at Belfast and all those major major nights mad nights nights that we
dreamt of being part of as as kids and you know we just gradually gradually
they’re way out I didn’t know you kid a new bonds box before I didn’t know you
box yourself as a kid maybe that’s like that’s probably where the passion comes
from like yeah in here in your voice when when when you’re listening the
radio comment readers definitely Piscean ours probably because you know again but
know what as a spectator but you’ve done what I always say Carly’s uh you know I
I do have an insight because what I did but everything I did was over three
rounds what I can’t get my head around is is what you do when it gets to eight
nine and ten you know when you know I’ve heard Ricky Hatton many others say that
at that point however much you trust your trainer whether it’s Jamie or
whoever it Alta mately comes down to you and I that’s where I I haven’t got a
window into that eight nine ten and when you’ve really got to drag it up from
somewhere you know in a sense as an amateur you can always see the finish
line it’s only over nine minutes away it’s very different and I remember many
people laughed and dismissed and this the fight between Floyd Mayweather and
Conor McGregor but there was a fascinating comment from McGregor at the
end of the fire and he said he sat down on his stall after the fifth round this
was at the press conference he’s drinking whiskey but he still had enough
time to get serious and he said I sat down at the end of the fifth round and
he said Jesus Christ there’s still seven rounds to go so he was he was paying a
massive component to all of these people without really understanding what he was
saying at the time you know and that the length of those fights and the grueling
nature of those fights and where where these people are prepared to go you know
is is what makes it so absolutely fascinating for me both you know before
and leading up to the fight after the fights but mostly on the night of the
fight there is no moment there is no place like ringside anywhere in sport
I’ve been lucky enough to cover a lot of sports I cover track and field athletics
which means I’m front and center for the Olympics the number one sport in the
Olympics athletics but apart from Super Saturday at London 2012 there’s nothing
that can match a big fight night and as far as we’re apart here Chris this is
the way you know this is how far we are away from the ring there have been times
when I’ve had blood on my notes there that’s how close we get to to the very
best of a late sport so on fight night we always hear about the fighters
preparations what about your preparation because you’re you’re putting all of
your concentration into well up to 36 minutes of action plus the the intervals
as well where does your prep start for a big fight week the prep actually starts
and maybe this is unwittingly when the fights announced because you then
starting to weigh up how the fight is going to go immediately on air you’re
asked who you think is going to win but it’s it’s it’s just that it’s a very
gradual build-up and for me with with boxing it’s very different to the other
sport I work in athletics if you’ve got say for example Mo Farah in a 10,000
meter race you’ve got 25 athletes and you’ve just got these other main pages
and pages of information and again you have to hold onto your nerve in a
different way there whereas with boxing there are only two men up in the ring
you’re never going to get the identity wrong which is a big factor in athletics
but the danger is there that you you make it so boring that all you say is
left right left right left right so during the week of a fight it kind of
just I find you just absorb all the information you go to the media workout
you go to the press conference you go to the weigh-in and those events you know I
mean different fighters have different approaches to what the media workout
means and how important it is but you start to get a sense of how big the
fight is and how it’s playing out around the general public you’ll be there
talking to there might be American journalists over all your over in Vegas
you’re getting the flavor of how the Americans see the fight or whatever you
talk to trainers even talk to fans and just during the week you you you know
that the whole sort of the lines around the fight that rumors around the fight
all start to to circulate and that that informs you know that the commentary of
the fight rather than a list of how many fights you’ve had when you were born
where you’re from and all of that because by the time you’ve covered
somebody who’s at World Championship level you pretty much know most of them
you know we don’t have that many world champions that you know have to keep
long catalog of stuff more of it and I’m very aware that that listeners don’t
want to hear just lists and lists of Statistics all the time and
then the danger is when you know for radio on television you can see it if if
the commentators are talking over each other or they’ve moved on to an anecdote
and suddenly someone’s on his back in a sense that doesn’t matter so much
because you can see in anyway but but on the radio if I suddenly drift into Carl
started at Midland IBC at the age of seven a boss suddenly gets hit with the
left hook you have to judge when you can introduce an anecdote rather than just
go left right left hook uppercut all night long and that becomes tedious you
have to judge when you can just drop in a an anecdote or just a line from the
build up you know I saw his trainer during the week and he said this and
there you know maybe when the referee breaks them up or so you use that three
or four seconds to just drop something in yeah do you think it’s important to
build like a relationship with the faders as well yes yeah I do and and and
overtime and sometimes it comes down to personality you have different
relationship yeah with with different fighters and that that I think can
impact what happens afterwards Karl you know I mean we were talking off air
about just before we started about amir khan and this great contradiction that
that people are laughing about after the fight against Crawford when he talks
about I had five minutes I didn’t know I had five minutes and all this kind of
stuff and and I’ve had a bit of stick on line I mean I’m I’m not on Twitter but
of course I have to follow it and and and monitor it and I’ve had a bit of
stick for not picking him up on that and I won’t do that because he’s been
battling around the ring he’s not had a game of tennis and again at football and
that’s a really difficult judgment to make because as a journalist someone
who’s a trained journalist you know I should be picking that up but the met
we’ve seen the images of it it was filmed as well as recorded and for audio
it’s all over the place and there’s no way I’m going to grill him at that stage
in fact you’d have a solid argument to say you shouldn’t have done the
interview Mike and I’m not sure another persuasive answer for that I had similar
stick with Tony Bell whose last fight against Lucic and I interviewed him we
had the right so yeah if you get the radio right you can wander up onto the
ring apron you’ve done it with thomas kane and all the rest them and i kept I
kept on a Tony and he kept just saying he’s been in his world cars and he was
saying the same stuff and people said Mike you should have let him go he
needed the thing is I don’t think that’s your call and I think because I was
talking about that fate like I feel like the way Tony was knocked out and hurt
badly I think that’s I think that I know you know TV and radio and stuff pay a
lot of money to to get access to these faders but I think in a situation like
that it’s important to be assessed properly by a doctor first
I feel like anyway I don’t know maybe some you know bigwigs in the TV
companies or radios may not agree with that but we’re just thinking someone
should step in here I don’t think it’s on to you but I think someone should
step in and Tony bell you should be and in the back room so that was part of my
thinking car was that he’d been assessed by a doctor okay and then I’d been led
over to our side of the Ring so that was one of the reasons I continued with it
later on I realized that he’d done like 40 minutes at a press conference and was
just typically voluble particular self so that that made me feel a bit better
but but it doesn’t change the fact that I had to make a judgement right there
and then the difficulty Carl there is and you’ll know this Christmas that had
I not interviewed him at ringside and all the other journalists the newspapers
the social media websites and the IFL TVs had all got his reaction all got his
story then I’m failing in my job so this is the real dilemma and and the balance
you have to find that I the post-fight interview is a really important part of
the whole story and if you don’t get that then unless the fighter has been
taken away you know for medical attention then you’ve you’ve not
actually done the whole job and it is actually also it’s going back to where
you said part of what you pay for you pay for that access as well so what
a big fight night so be say Warrington fight for example when you’ve come out
the decisions not not going your way and you’ve you’ve had a hard night in the
ring as well how difficult is it to go through the rigmarole of interview after
interview how many would you say you have to do I thought no I can’t remember
what I done after the warning fade that I did that I speak do you guys know no
no but I tell you why that the problem Neffe
the colors that I mean clearly we go to the winner so by the time he’s done
however many interviews I may be well you can’t wait forever ba you know
yeah I but yeah I remember doing a few gamma BT backstage afterwards then go to
a press conference because it was I was hurt like properly hurt and like really
really tired and I got back the wanna go back to hotel and actually on the tax
rate back the hotel I asked could I just you know call the hospital here just to
just to be safe yeah but it’s uh I don’t I felt like I
remembered an interview with BT after the after Street after the fake and
Frank kinda called me over and do the interview with Warrington I was I was
beaten so it was kind of like that let the man talk he’s won the fight but
Frank got me involved as well and that’s probably the only reason why I dominant
of you in the ring yeah our turbine off said somewhere in the change room
drowned me eyes mm-hmm cocky big kind of change in the last eight or nine years
in the landscape of boxing certainly the stadium fight was brought back by the
first Fox grows fight that led to Wembley in the second yeah certainly a
memorable night for you that must have been right that was really really
special I mean I remember sitting virtually on the centre circle and again
it goes back to what I was saying earlier on about this hero-worshipping
you know I was thinking of looking around the stadium the first thing I
thought was what it must have been like for those athletes at London 2012 I know
that wasn’t the stadium that was used for London 2012 but I just looked around
at the vast stance and how far away they seemed from you know the eye of the
storm is he lying and and what it must have been like to compete at the games
like that and then thinking you know these guys garland jaws are going to
walk from the dressing room and they’re going to see something and hear
something like they’ve never ever before and it was it you just get that wow
factor as soon as you as soon as you walk in and all that the pitch is
covered and it’s something I’ve really a really
special night anything you know that the punch that was found is one of the
all-time great great punches unbelievable shot and I can remember the
way you summed up the the fight just in the moments after and everyone else is
in just complete shock and as a fan you go into disarray but you in that moment
that the difference between that you know the first Fox goes fight in the
second is but you at least have some indication that you’re maybe building
towards that the finish or something’s happening whereas with that it was left
at right hand and and I’ve quite a nip and tuck fight is suddenly over yeah and
you’ve got 80,000 people losing their minds but you have to absolutely focus
because you’re the eyes and the ears of the listeners yeah can’t you can’t
deviate from task for a second yeah and goes back to what I was saying about had
I been in the middle of an anecdote there oh you know and lost the moment
one of the great moments you know in recent British boxing history
now again through experience because they were moving into a corner then I
would never have you know gone into an anecdote at that stage but that was just
truly truly remarkable it was one of those where somebody said to me after
after Usain Bolt won the 100 meters at the Olympics in 2008 and I’ve been lucky
enough to cover every single one of his gold medal winning races and commentate
on them and I went for dinner with the great javelin thrower Steve battery and
I’ll coach the British team called Jorge Gandhi in Beijing afterwards and he said
to me George that this old fella George said to me when when bolt does something
like that because he virtually danced across the line you just don’t win
Olympic finals like no he said how’d you stop yourself saying me on air but
that’s actually what you’ve got to do you’ve got to get as close to swearing
as you can because everybody in that crowd me did you see that kind of thing
so you’ve got to try and articulate exactly what most people in pubs are in
the crowd are saying you know I was thinking that actually how do you stop
yourself from like in a moment leg front groves where it is in the pent up
Phaeton and suddenly it’s over how do you stop yourself from just ya know I
look forward to when you’re next to come here
great the great thing about it is often actually buncee will give you the pitch
because I can remember that it’s almost etched in my mind that that Froch right
hand because buncee went oh like that but you are just saying and the right
hands lady matt and you’re going through the description so that you don’t lose
that but with button c and the crowd you’ve got your Atmos and you’ve got the
gravity of the occasion which allows you to kind of focus on what you’ve got to
do us both yeah yeah yeah yeah that Olympic hundred meter final in Beijing
was something else because Powell was the favorite really going into that or
Foreman was the he wasn’t though he just had the world record taken from him but
he’s young and both broken the world record but they were doubts about him on
the bigger cage course because he hadn’t won anything at that so he’s silver the
the world champs in the 200 the year before
yeah hits Tyson guy yeah yeah cor you’re lucky my yeah and that’s yeah it is I
mean I often describe the hundred meters as the heavyweight championship of
athletics because that that’s another event that can be won in the head you
know you know all the way through the build-up and I remember a big race in
Beijing a world championship final between Justin Gatlin and and bolt
basically it was billed as a match between good and evil the man who’d
failed drug tests you know the savior of the sport and Gatlin had 120 successive
races on the way in but I said he’s won 20 races that didn’t have Usain Bolt in
them and bolt won the final and I find that fascinating about about boxing and
about athletics you know the build up how much how much do you genuinely
believe that you are you know I don’t think you get to where you are unless
you’ve got really really strong temperament but Carl Froch said to me a
few years back he fought this American called use of Mac and when Mac came over
to a press conference and not him he started calling Carla plastic joke as a
key so I said the Karl afterwards you know what would you make of all that
nonsense and he said Mike he can say what he likes here but when he puts his
head on the pillow at night and those little demons creep up you know those
demons of doubt then does he really believe and that’s what fascinates me
about race is like the hundred meters where you can absolutely lose it in your
first stride and you know look at the fight against Warrington you know
change on the opening round the hole that the temper of the whole event
whether it’s a fight or a race of that nature when you’re on your own
here’s this different in a team in a team scenario every one of the big
difference in teen Usain Bolt and the Safa power was was nerves on the on the
start line you could visibly see pal relaxed in every round the semi-final
and then the final he looked a different guy yeah
what about yourself because you’ve got especially in something like 100 meters
you’ve got a some something up from start to finish in nine and nine and a
bit seconds yeah do you get nervous yeah what’s it was to end of the nerve stop
usually about about mid-afternoon but here’s where boxing even as a kid even
down a lowly level it helps because I remember getting the same feeling kind
of mid-afternoon in school and then sort of losing concentration whatever we were
doing in class because I was only thinking about what was gonna happen
that evening you know and building the whole event in my head in you know this
tiny little schoolboy level but I learned over time I mean I had about
sixty bouncing in and so I learned how to deal with nerves you know as you go
through the grades I didn’t go that high but you do you know you get to a stage
where you box young lads that I’ve got a bit of a reputation and you have to deal
with that for maybe two or three weeks and that’s that’s very similar to what
to what dealing with a 100 meter final at the Olympic Games that was the first
one I’ve done for BBC five life so I really felt on trial that the one in
2008 that was your first athletics were four five like before five like yeah so
really on trial there and and those nerves appearing in mid-afternoon but
I’ve now got to that stage where I almost I not enjoy it so wrong work but
once those nerves come I know that I’ll you know I’ll be sharpened and ready
it’s the big event of the whole Olympics as well and I’m not to go loving so I’ve
worked for in in the same way that you know you trained in your way and I’ve
trained in my way and all the way through the years to get to get these
gigs to be front and center and that’s something you have to remember as well
and not let trying to not let it really overwhelm you and overburden you in that
there are so many people that want to do what you’re doing
you know how many people are commentating on that 100 meters in the
stadium you know it’s a really privileged position to be in and so you
have to you have to make sure that you know you don’t let it drift by in a sea
of nerves you must hold on to how special it is you know and just I
remember walking four years later to the stadium at London 2012 and again had
these nerves but I looked up and I thought wow there’s all these people are
paid 100 200 quid for a ticket and you know and I’m going in tonight and again
it was it was Bowl who won and if that that’s a challenge like no it’s a very
different challenge to boxing because of you mean you said nine and a half
seconds I remember an old English teacher of mine said the average
sentence that we speak last three seconds like maybe the one I’ve just
said and so you’ve got three six three three sentences across that race if you
mentioned all the athletes it begun they’d get past the line you know if you
blink that’s the difference between the first and the eighth man home that’s in
time so that’s those are the margins you’re talking about
yeah even at the longer distances you know mo farah won two races over 25 laps
in 12 and a half laps and his total winning distance was eight tenths of a
second so these are the margins that you’ve got you know but in boxing it’s
it’s know you leaned back from a shot you know and you make someone miss you
catch with a counter if that first shot catches you the counter doesn’t land it
the tiny margins at the highest level yeah also I guess controlling your voice
is an important part of it because you need to give yourself somewhere to go in
the event that something unusual happens or suddenly you get that for watch goers
moment or you know the final straight of Mo Farah race you have to protect your
your voice in the build-up to fight week does it take all out the vocal cords to
you yeah I mean boxing is is very different in that you are there right in
the bear pit whereas in in you know in athletics you
could be as as far as 50 or 60 meters away from from the action so it’s a very
different strain on the voice because all of that crowd noise is descending on
the ring and you and you’re right there and it and it’s the the action is so
through three minutes at a time three minutes at a time without any in you
know any comments at all or any kind of breakthrough from the summarizer or
whoever bond see or whoever you’re working with in terms of an ex-boxer so
it’s it’s three minutes relentlessly you know of describing where they are in the
ring and and going back to all those other thing I was saying about not being
not being too repetitive so it’s it’s very different whereas it you know for a
long distance race you know might you might let a couple of laps go by and
just talk about mo Farah’s background or whatever knowing that I mean the only
thing that could happen there that could trip you up would be him tripping up
yeah but it’s you know there’s there’s much more pressure on those three
minutes in a ring than there then there is anywhere apart from that 100 meter
final for up for a boxer mutt has got to be so difficult to describe a bore and
say like boxing or a I think it’s the best board in the world when it’s a
quality faith and two guys are well mutt but if it’s a stinger and it’s not even
nice to watch on TV as a radio commentator must be so difficult it is
and again that’s I mean so you can then use more of that kind of anecdotal stuff
and the background material but the two people would say to what you know where
do you think you you were best what commentaries you’re most proud of and
it’s not necessarily those monster nights or even the you know the Olympic
finals to really really difficult commentaries
I did was were Tyson Fury against Vladimir Klitschko right and David Haye
against Nikolay value F now as spectacles they were boring as hell but
the key was we had to keep I mean the one in in Nuremberg the David Haye fight
didn’t have much of a crowd behind it but the one in düsseldorf
I don’t had a massive crowd they were still cheering madly for for Klitschko
so you do have to still spell out that although we’re finding this tedious it
is the crowd here loving it so you have to go with them but also what we were
spelling out on both occasions is this is going to be a great night it’s not a
great fight but is going to be it looks like it’s going
to be a great night so they’re really different you remember how you scored
off a fury and critical by three to theory because I I I had it pretty close
as well but yeah people talking about the you know let’s call Georgia and and
fury Klitschko it’s because time is elapsed
it’s people think of that fate as a complete like one-sided yeah you’re
watching TKO together with 32 red as right now though he’s Alex Payne with
something else from Joe thank you very much indeed it’s just a moment will do
for us to duck in and tell you about the House of rugby we’re having a lot of fun
what are we trying to do with the show why should people be watching a
listening this is going into another showed so that people come and watch us
oh hello rod there’s nice people right well we should basically watch how the
rug because it’s unbelievable humor we don’t talk about any rugby and we give
you the inside track from people who are still actually involved in Robbie not
old six year olds you do anything good you can download it via YouTube you can
make a good buy as you know we’re very professional outfit what’s why YouTube
and downers by I choose I hope you’ll join us at some point it’s a lot of fun
really thanks Alex welcome back to TK around 15
with Mike Costello BBC five live boxing an athletics commentator let’s pick
straight back up off those fights I guess the point being as you say there’s
a difference between a boring fight in of itself but actually the context and
the narratives that surrounds that fight and with both of those fights the
commonality was a changing of the heavyweight guard so start maybe hey hey
invaluable because chronological was before yeah and and that was one of
those fights as well I say that fights fall into two three categories there are
the fights that only boxing fans are interested in there are the fights that
boxing fans and general sports fans are interested in and there are the fights
that for whatever reason they envelop everybody everybody’s interested in them
and this was one of those on that third category simply because of the size of
Nikolai Valuev and when they stood together at press
conferences and the weigh-in and whatever there was that and you know you
could almost hear the mum saying out yelling with that big fella he’ll never
do it and so that that had a massive buildup and and there was such a
conflict as well in in terms of what Xboxes and pundits and writers had a
viewpoint as to who was going to win you know it was almost split down the middle
that Hayes just too too small for for this fella I mean I had a view point at
the time I couldn’t see how he would lay a glove on him and that’s what happened
I mean I’ve got that one right I’ve got many many wrong in the past but that
that was one way sometimes you see you see a fight really clearly I don’t if
you find that Karl beef you see a fight really clearly and you can’t understand
why nobody else is seeing it and in other times you know you just you know
so wrong and that’s that’s the fascination of this sport you just said
you just never know you took over from John Rowland yeah when he when he moved
to TV yeah so you’ve worked on did you work on Athens the Olympics there yeah
but I was working there for the BBC World Service so I was working there as
a kind of a general reporter I did cover most virtually all of the athletics in
Athens but I was working there and four years earlier in Sydney likewise as a as
a general report Roy okay so I’ll I’ve covered seven Olympic Games now so she
joined joined the BBC it I read six teams all right yeah close very young it
was a very different landscape you’d never get into the BBC now at 16 I mean
for example I I got a job in the Accounts Department and and that’s now
outsourced it’s not done by the BBC anymore so they wouldn’t have been that
rude rude in and then just pissed at the sports room for anything you know and
I’ve got job as a runner on a Saturday afternoon eventually without pay but
just running results literally running results from the old teleprinters over
to over to a studio so that was that was my way in without the necessarily
qualifications to go straight in as a as a broadcaster and and not to give away
your age but this is sort of mid to late seventies we’re talking about 36 yeah
you’re in a golden age of the fight game at this point yeah the kind of lady is
of Muhammad Ali just just talk to me about what a what you were watching in
terms of sport and thing but also how were you watching it
because it wasn’t like it is these days with it still we still able to watch the
big fights in the cinemas they still being screened in cinemas oh yeah yeah
but I was too young because inevitably you know you’d have to go to school the
next day that my dad used to I mean I live in and have lived in South London
all my life or in and around there and my dad used to go to the Louis Cham
Odeon to watch to watch the big fights they are Levites were on in the cinemas
I’ve loved that all around the country I’m late no settlement night right yeah
yeah well effects I mean it all the way through to to even my professional
lifetime I watched Frank Bruno against Tyson Mike
Tyson the first fight at the London Palladium and I’ll tell you it was just
one of the best boxing experiences in my life there the huge screen which took up
the whole stage and when the lights went down it was the next best thing for
being there and got an atmosphere it was it was fabulous that you know to stare
down and I remember Mike Tyson looked away you know after the referees
instructions Mike Tyson looked away and all the crowds died in 15 seconds I was
over very quickly that was on the neck yeah
so the 70s and 80s you you grew up in it was that was when the the first
emergence in the UK the kind of war of the promoters there was like this sort
of cartel that was operating yeah so Mickey Duff and Jarvis Astaire and Harry
Levin had contracts with the BBC yeah and then it was it was kind of
Frank Warren that disrupted that the status quo I guess that in the mid 80s
was yes yeah yeah yeah and that created a big change and that and that
competition was was great for British boxing and it meant from what I
understand from boxers at the time it meant they they started to earn a lot
more money than they had previously done you know because there there was now a
serious challenger to the cartel that you talk about as successful as
they were but Frank Warren was at that stage was was a real it was a new broom
sweeping through the sport and every everybody knew about it you know and it
was at a time post Muhammad Ali so the sport needed needed something not just
here but look globally you know it needed something because you can imagine
there in fact he had made on the sport and mom
often asked if there’s anything you could have covered what would it be and
it would have been the rumble in the jungle in Zaire in 1974 wasn’t of took
cover at anything of Muhammad Ali and that’s why I actually went to his cover
his funeral nearly three years ago now and then as morbid as it sounds it was
it was a massive massive thrill mm-hmm just to to be able to revisit and see
how how special he was and the turnout at the memorial service yeah it was it
was really really special my dad used to wake me up at you know 5:00 6:00 in the
morning to tell me the results when he got back from Lewis imodium my mum is
that I mean I’m a dad at both from from gore and my mom you say leave him alone
leave him alone beside school the next morning but my dad would creep in and
tell me tell me the results and it was this really kind of weird almost
mystical coincidence that I got a call from the five live production team at
twenty past five on this Saturday morning almost to the minute of the time
my dad used to come in and tell me the results and they ran me to tell me that
Holly had died and you we want you on air from six o’clock that was that was a
whole day’s broadcast thing about you know the impact that Ollie at night so
that would that you’ve gone back to what you said that was the world I that’s the
boxing world I came into you know if you were at all interested in sport and you
couldn’t avoid that you know the the luster of Muhammad Ali whether you went
into boxing or not you know he was a monster figure at that time no knows why
but it being right now in social media aren’t for sale remember ed Robinson
tweeting about that I said imagine imagine sort of a like an HBO 24/7 you
know like when they do the build-up just imagine that with Muhammad Ali that
would just be something else when they are there but yet he set the precedent
for the kind of talking and and the the the braggadocio show in the way that we
see with Tyson Fury and some of the other guys now the precedent between
between the promoters warring I mean Frank Warren is you know it’s war with
Barry Hearn and now with Eddie but I guess as a benefit as Mike said you know
you must have seen the benefits when you’re renegotiating contracts knowing
you can you can play off guys against another to secure a better deal I think
competition is healthy and anything definitely boxing and you’ve got strange
that you’ve got like because that’s probably because of social media but
you’ve got whereas before when you’re talking about Mickey Duff and JA
resister they wouldn’t necessarily have been fans of the promoters n but a d
harn and Frank Warren have their own fan clubs now and guy said you know I’m Tim
Mottram I wouldn’t want to warn show and vice-versa and it’s it’s strange but as
a boxer like personally for me when I left my previous team it was like Warren
and Hearn and I went with Warren the end but it was like it wasn’t that when I
was a wee bit of negotiation and stuffer and it had worked to my benefit I felt a
competition and anything I think is is very healthy the problem is though Mike
is that we’ve almost gone the other way now where we have so much competition so
many different networks and this kind of refusal to budge from certain promoters
in certain Network studies we’re at Sage certainly now that it’s to the sports
detriment in some aspects and it’s stopping some big fights from being made
is that frustrating as someone who’s been through those golden eras to see
the situation that we’re in at the moment it is and I have this kind of
push me pull you feel about it or because again going back to my
background I understand or have an inkling of what they do and therefore
any fighter earning that kind of money for me is is a reason to celebrate
because there are plenty of people making money in the game and it’s not
always the fellows who take it on the chin and so it may well be that while
they’re in fury and Joshua are going off on their their different pathways at the
moment but they’re all learning crazy amounts of money and look I know deep
down the fans ultimately want those to me I think they will at least two of
those three will meet some state at some stage in the next year but in the
meantime they’re earning phenomenal amounts of money and I I just think in
in my time in covering boxing but also in being around boxers as well and just
again because my background I’ve been around a lot of low-grade boxes and
there aren’t a lot of happy endings no I’ve said it before
there aren’t a lot of happy endings so if I hear about bloke earning three four
five six and more million dollars for for a fight in Fury’s case against Tom
Schwartz you know given what he’s done against Wilder against Klitschko I’m not
digging that I’m desperately frustrated and I’m unhappy that he’s not fighting
while they’re in the real we’re in the rematch but as he paid his juice a lot
yeah yeah and I’d like to say that the box is earning that kind of money what’s
what’s that I wouldn’t know I haven’t done the research what’s the percentage
is it tiny yeah it’s gotta be this before it’s
gotta be it’s gotta be less and one that’s probably less than 1% the boxers
world word that can actually make a livin after I go down we’ve got a
thousand professional boxers in this country how many of those wouldn’t have
to work right as well you know yeah you know they call themselves professional
boxers that actually semi professional boxing you know it’s not all the about
the glories is and you mentioned paying your dues I kind of feel like I’ll see
someone in your position you know you just sign this this deal which you know
I guess a good deal for you it’s not rank financially but you would have gone
so many years in the early days without being paid and you never get paid for
any training sessions so it that that pay essentially is is back dating all of
the hard work you’ve done over two and a half decades oh it’s a bit of a gamble
because at the start you’re kind of you know you get a get a few quid but that’s
what you’re getting a few quid then you’re kind of livin off from purse the
person will you start to win meaningful titles that’s not even really about
meaningful titles a lot this ham as well as about farm biz and supportin tickets
you sell there’s a lot of quality faders who are world champions that probably
aren’t that well off because they’re not selling tickets and there isn’t the
demand on TV and unread you for them I’ve been looking offered of I’ve got a
peg farm business done pretty well especially recently and this new
tabletop rank as well but there’s years at the start were you’re kind of going
from fact per staff a person that’s what you’re living off and you’re like I need
another fight here because I’m running out of money and that’s the way that’s
for all boxers and could be even worse than that were
they they boxes cannabis a donor they’ve got another job and boxing’s are
something else it’s come on in you know especially the journeymen which book the
one mm-hmm a few weeks you on the show and it’s completely it’s completely
different than the guys at the very top endless board
yeah it is so just over two decades of commentating on some of the biggest
fights which action your memory is your favorite nights the work on the favorite
fights talk to me about what sticks with you there are there are many great
memories though those two that I I mentioned are our special for for the
two reasons as to how difficult they were but they were great nights in in
British boxing history the one at Wembley jaws groves and Kyle Frost the
rematch the first fight in in Manchester of rotten groves was a monster that the
one that really sticks out I suppose in terms of the commentary demand would
have been fraught against Kessler there the rematch the punches were thrown
yeah that was staggering yeah yeah other ones even doubled his punch output from
the first of the second I think in that fire so it was just all out wasn’t it
remarkable that the pair of them yeah just one of those one of those instances
where you talk about you know styles make fights and my god it made a classic
but the first one in in Denmark had been had been a cracker as well before should
have problems didn’t he flying out it was that during the ash cloud amaz yeah
yeah and he’d been told that the fight was off and so the the Sunday before the
fight on the Saturday he had a family barbecue because he was convinced it was
off and then suddenly a couple of days later it was on there are surprise ones
as well I mean you know you’ll accuse me of saying this because he’s here but you
know of all the big nights he’s had it may be one that the one that sticks out
you fought Chris Avalos what’s now the odyssey the noise I was doing it with
George gross he was the co commentator and I just nudged him said take there
when you were introduced take take the headphones off and just get get this
real rather than you know as the engineers are sending it to you
and that the noise was absolutely ear-splitting and it was just a
fantastic performance when you when you consider that you know the round a
picture just that was an amazing night but they always are when there’s a
there’s almost a I describe some of those noises in belleville is like a
Latin he it’s it’s a different kind of noise this is okay Taylor in the
Olympics yeah yeah see I didn’t see any of her fights but I was always in the
athletics day yeah I was lucky enough to be there yeah I was yeah it was
different the only one that looked closer was probably Anthony Joshua’s
final really yeah but actually I would say consistently the noise cases you
know and that was in London his way and we talked we talked about the margins I
mean you look at Joshua’s fights I’m all for we’re like wafer thin you
know and just a completely different story you’re talking about margins again
like that’s if Joshua a lot of people thought he lost the first fight so on
yes Ivana my penis Authority it’s a different story yeah and I think you’ve
won the fight against camera alley in the fennel very close but I ought to
give it the Joshua Ritz count back wasn’t it was 18 or something called the
other way then that’s this story is completely different
yeah but there’s a narrative I mean that for it to go to count back remember the
silence around the arena and there was gawk with Dan O’Sullivan as a local ring
announcer with no nature for few years it was his job they put the paper slip
in his box he sort of pulls the the slide down so
he knows the result and that’s it and I was watching to see if he gave anything
away he was absolutely poker face and he went the winner on count back and I just
remember when he announced Joshua’s name the whole stadium exploded and that that
triggered a new a new era completely commercially and you know the landscape
changed again but yeah I guess for you as you say you have to savor those
moments and you have to understand that you’re witnessing a piece of history
because although that that history lives on that moment goes within a few minutes
and you lose that so your hold on to it yeah and and sometimes you are aware as
you know you walk to an arena you’re aware in a very different way to the
boxes themselves that this this is a night that might might resonate and for
London 2012 I was very aware that these are them
races and events and you get the same with fights they’re going to be pulled
out the BBC’s archives isn’t like we’re doing now with stuff in the 60s and the
70s and he’s going to have the name Costello next to it and that’s that
makes me really proud absolutely I know one of the ones and I hate I hate to
mention it but you missed one of the the biggest ones Joshua Klitschko at Waverly
and just just an epic night if see your arm well at the time yeah difficult to
know that you did miss something like that I guess yeah it it really was
and not just not just because I was ill at the time it was it was one of those
again that you’ve worked so hard and so long to to be in position for nights
like that you know and you can people try and console you and say there’ll be
another one there’ll be another one but they they don’t come around very often
they those nights don’t come in bunches they really don’t know no they don’t did
you go to that no how was our weddin I always seem to be at weddings for I
always end up watching and the braids are never happy when you know half half
the wedding party clear out the watch a big fate but I’ve got a wagon watch not
and I’m just watching it go on this absolute what effect that was and what
effect that was crescendo of the noise in round 11 I think because it was the
perfect it was a perfect narrative for for the crowd wasn’t it really in terms
of both been down and in 11 was the you know has done gone down got out gone
down got up and he answered so many questions I’ll fail as well sure because
it was kind of he was just bawling everyone over and he was hurt himself
badly in the fight against Klitschko so the question was always hanging over him
and till that fate what happens when he gets hit and you know gonna get hit with
a much better writer than that are you real
no no answered a lot of questions that night um he was your favorite fighter
ever it’s Harley yeah in terms of what he did in the ring at Sugar Ray Leonard
bit but the whole picture you know what he did for the sport and the impact he
made and and what he did as a heavyweight you know if you watch his
performance against Cleveland Williams in in 66 is I mean you’d be proud to
throw those shots as a featherweight and the first Liston fight is almost
almost these glides over the canvas yeah and
you imagine you imagine the mind game before that fight and what listenings
done to Patterson Ingemar Johansson and yeah it’s it’s it’s really I think I was
lucky to have been a teenager you know for all I wish I could have covered the
the career of ivali I wish I I wish I still think I was lucky to have been a
teenager an impressionable teenager around that time but I was much more
aware and much more able to understand what Sugar Ray Leonard did because I was
more into boxing in that time and as a commentator I’ve been lucky enough to be
around Floyd Mayweather and the big Floyd Mayweather night certain and there
there’s something special as well in a in a very different way you know he
brings a very different dynamic to to boxing but he’s fascinating to be around
you see see the big hotels in Vegas change over the course of the week when
when made with his in town is like Tommy tourists or through Monday Tuesday
Wednesday and suddenly the whole nature at the hotel changes for Thursday and
Friday and it’s it’s a very different atmosphere says a lot about how much he
brought financially to the sport they pushed his jail sentence back so that he
could box it brought in a something like a billion to the Las Vegas economy just
on that weekend alone yeah almost unheard was a sentence by six months
yeah yeah and he’s another one that don’t feel like he’ll get his Jews for
it for another maybe 15-20 years once people have just forgotten the stuff
outside of the ring and he’s his personality maybe his skill yeah I mean
when you talk about Jews you look at the money he’s earned so there was a market
for him and that’s the market he reached out to and I think you know there comes
a time when you all grow up as businessmen as well as boxers and look
he was promoted and I spoke to Bob on just about this in the recent week when
Amir Khan for Terence Crawford Crawford now promoted by by Bob Arum and and he
was talking about how mayweather saw what he Bob Aaron didn’t see in
2005-2006 and this is 40 years into Aaron’s
promotional career and he said that that Mayweather was looking to market himself
to this black urban audience which which Bob Aaron just didn’t understand the
black people he knew were a very different generation very different time
and so he couldn’t understand what Mayweather was aiming in so Mayweather
bought himself out of the contract paid seven hundred fifty thousand dollars to
get free of Bob Arum and you calculate what he’s in it now you know I mean it
you’re edging towards a billion dollars and and this is you know and this is
this is allowed he was held up in front of him by his dad was held up as a
shield against his uncle who was about to shoot his dad as a kid that’s the
background he came from and yet that’s how sharp a businessman he is so you
know he grew as a man as well as a as well as a fighter I think as a boxer he
was born into the wrong era you know that the likes of Willie pepper were you
know marvel that because of their defensive genius he he belongs maybe in
in that kind of era but but his personality sold the fight like you know
like no one of the of the current generation and I keep hearing this
refrain that Mayweather only ever fought boxers when they were past their best
look what Cotto went on to become world middleweight champion look what Alvarez
have done since Manny Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley Juan Manuel Marquez
knocked out Manny Pacquiao look at the form since Mayweather I think that’s the
cuddle worms the best one for MIT for me is dangling because it was so it’s so
easy hmm not the car oh sorry canal one yeah
the cazzo is actually quite tough for Canelo winning you know what look at
what can I was doing ring now you know what I mean and one just caught it a
draw yeah CJ Ross scary isn’t it yeah yeah might it’s been
an absolute pleasure to have you on before we go though we have a section
that we we do call the 32 second challenge there’s word association I’m
gonna read you a list of words and then you’re just gonna say the first thing
that comes into your head so this is the 32 second challenge with Mike Costello
okay Mike first words the microphone your commentary Lynn amateur boxing club
glory days John Rowland predecessor fight nights
the best Froch Gessler to unforgettable Steve months there forever boxing or
athletics boxing nerves every night fight you wish you’d commentated on
Harley vs. Foreman great rumble in the jungle Super Saturday the best night of
commentary ever awesome the one round of boxing you would take to a desert island
Kerala’s against castillo nice Ryan unbelievable round that’s what we’ve got
Artie what one more car Frampton jab former what a pleasure it’s been waiting
favorites that was good enjoyable – Mike thank you mate Mike thank you so much
yeah Cheers okay but that’s been round fifteen TKO
of Mike Costello done and dusted remembers to check out some of our other
episodes David hey Chris Eubank senior Josh you’re back see David Price Jamie
Carragher and many many more we will see you again in seven days time thanks for
watching you’ve been watching TKO on Joe together
with 32 red you

33 thoughts on “Mike Costello interview: Boxing commentator on the biggest fights in history | TKO Carl Frampton #15

  1. Love listening to Mike Costello on 5 live. Class commentator. Real shame he wasn't well enough to commentate the Joshua v Klitschko fight.

  2. Once again fantastic episode. The insights are second to none, they let the guests speak and ask some class questions. Every episode is a must watch

  3. love carl , only fear for the podcast is most "fans" just want you to suck eddies dick . therez not that many actual boxing fans out there

  4. This and the Teddy Atlas podcast give so much invaluable insight that you just cant get anywhere else. Frampton is such a smart guy with stories for days.

  5. Great episode, mike is a true gent and excellent at his job. Adam Booth would be a good guest if he is willing

  6. This Guy's commentary makes the fights very exciting and dramatic without any visuals. Surprised Sky or BT have not got him doing their TV commentary.

  7. Great podcast that. Brilliant how all involved sat and listened to each other without the constant interupting you get in some shows. Mike Costello is a brilliant commentator and some of the things he talked about here only increase my respect for him.

  8. Another great interview. Costello is certainly one of the best commentators out there. Big boxing events in ciemas were tremendous. Leonard vs Hagler at the Royal Court in Liverpool was the next best thing to being there.

  9. Extremely proud of you Mike Costello a person inspired me I've known him since I was 12 years old I'm 57 now I remember the day when you got the job with the BBC we went out and play football then hang out if you're out there Mike and you're reading this and my can you forgot to tell them you will southern area champion and you was a very good footballer we do nutmegging people

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