The Blogging Tradition: Covering the Coverage of the News: The Next Round on Maxboxing.com

Alright folks, I have been waiting for Maxboxing.com to roll out its new version of The Next Round. Replacing the fantastic Dougie Fischer is a gentleman by the name of Gabriel Montoya.

First of all, at least for me, this show is going to have a tough row to hoe as far as matching the excellence that the show had with Fischer. This newest episode is #231, and I can honestly say that I saw all 230 before this. The Next Round was not only my favorite boxing content, it was actually my favorite "programming," if you want to call it that, of any kind, surpassing all other webpages, blogs, podcasts, TV shows, etc. of any subject matter - boxing, sports, news or entertainment. To put it simply, I am and was a huge fan of The Next Round. But I am so happy to see it return, and Steve Kim would probably be great all by himself, that I am going to watch the show with an open mind, and it would take a change of epic proportions to stop me from watching it anyway. There have been too many weeks to count where I preferred a certain week's TNR over the actual matches I sat through. So here we go.

Right away, on the main page, before even clicking on the show, I have noticed that Montoya has more than a passing resemblance to Fischer visually. He appears to have slick-backed hair and has glasses just like Dougie. I seriously doubt that Kim went looking for Fischer body doubles, but I thought I would toss that in there, just because when I saw that the show was back up, I actually thought Dougie was back for a second. Perhaps my brain is just so used to seeing Kim and Fischer together.

The beginning segment is the same as before. Kim introduces the show, and the usual music plays after the bell rings. A technology aside, the GUI itself to use the viewer seems to have changed. I no longer have a running clock on the screen, nor do I have the option to pause. There are buttons, but they don't seem to be working properly. I must say that the picture looks crisper. And now that we are off of the front page and Montoya is in action, I can see he looks a lot less like Dougie than I had thought before. They have a slight resemblance, but mostly it's in the glasses, I guess. I really used the buttons on the viewer quite frequently for the previous shows. Having them allows the user to pause the show and not miss anything, as well as easily repeat segments to catch again what had been said. Without the buttons working today, I have to keep restarting the show from the beginning and watching through. For such computer matters, I usually am hesitant to criticize, because the problem could easily be on my end. However, the windows viewer is at least no longer an option on my computer.

Now, onto the show itself. The two-some jump right into an analysis of Berto-Collazo. Right away, I can tell you that I like Montoya so far. He doesn't appear to be overly nervous in front of the camera. He is navigating the whole look-into-the-camera mixed in with looking-at-Steve situation deftly. His tone is conversational, and he doesn't appear to have a schtick, which goes a long way with me. These days it seems that almost every personality on ESPN or talk radio tries way too hard. Montoya is going for the substance, which is great. He is coming off as knowing his stuff, but that's the one part of the show that I had no doubt would be solid. In my mind there was no way Kim would be put on with someone who didn't know boxing. So, no surprise, the analysis itself is still on par with what I considered to be among the best in all of boxing from The Next Round in its previous incarnation. There is no drop-off there at all in the new version.

The show is flowing just like the old show did. Kim and Montoya move through various upcoming fights as well as through a News and Notes segment. Episode #231 does not feature a mailbag, but Steve does say at the end that it too will return. That is perhaps where we will see Montoya's personality have more of an opportunity to shine.

In summary, the show is still great. I am going to keep an eye on Montoya. Initially, I didn't even read his mailbag because I already read Dougie's, and even though I love boxing, life is too short to get involved with multiple mail ags in addition to all of the other boxing reading. But now that I see he is going to host The Next Round, I feel like I want to give his mailbag a chance too. As corny as it sounds, through his mailbags, articles, and hosting duties, I felt like I got to know Dougie, at least to the extent that someone can through such forums. Other reporters in boxing and other sports are somewhat faceless, personality-less nobodies to me. That is how some people would view BoxingWatchers too, to be fair. Kim and Fischer individually and as a team managed to bridge that divide for me. I hope Montoya can do that too. Even if he doesn't, and even if he doesn't improve one bit from what he has shown after one show, he has already shown enough for me to continue to watch every week and continue to pony up my membership fee, provided it doesn't get outrageously high.

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