Top Rank Inc. has chosen ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith to be part of its broadcast team calling the Nov. 2 Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas pay-per-view boxing event.
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Smith will join former welterweight champion and Pacquiao opponent Timothy Bradley, veteran announcer and MLB Network host Brian Kenny and Fox Sports personality/Extra co-host Charissa Thompson, according to Top Rank.
"We wanted to give the viewers a different perspective that informs and entertains and I think we have accomplished that with this fantastic team," said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. "We will expand the reach of this event beyond the boxing fan to an audience that has watched Stephen A., Brian and Charissa as regular fixtures in covering other major sports."
DuBoef told Multichannel News that Top Rank will distribute the Pacquiao-Vargas fight to operators on its own without traditional PPV event distribution partners Showtime and HBO.
The Pacquiao-Vargas fight in one of three major ring sports scheduled for November, including A Nov. 19 HBO-distributed Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight boxing event and UFC’s high-profile Nov. 12 event from New York’s Madison Square Garden.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.