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Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. excited about return to Japan

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

World-renowned boxing and mixed martial arts ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. has introduced fighters in 35 countries in his long career.

And he calls Japan one of “my favorite” nations to work in.

The 59-year-old Lennon, the ring announcer when Ryota Murata captured the WBA middleweight championship by beating Hassan N’Dam at Ryogoku Kokugikan last October, has returned to Japan to once again shout his signature line, “It’s showtime!”

Lennon told The Japan Times on Friday that he was “honored to be part of” a rematch between Murata and N’Dam. (Murata lost to the Cameroonian-French in a controversial split decision in May 2017.)

No stranger to Japan and calling Japanese boxers’ names, Lennon estimated that Sunday’s Murata-Emanuele Blandamura title fight will be his “15th to 20th” visit here to serve as a ring announcer. What’s more, he has introduced some of the greatest boxers that Japan has produced, including Toshiaki Nishioka, Hozumi Hasegawa and Shinsuke Yamanaka, at some of the nation’s historic sporting venues like Nippon Budokan.

For Lennon, who was born in Santa Monica, California, his first ring-announcing job in Japan was one of the most historic fights of all time.

“My first time was when I introduced Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas in Tokyo Dome,” he said of one of the biggest upsets in sports in the 20th century, when Douglas knocked out heavyyweight champion Mike Tyson in February 1990.

Blessed with many memories, Lennon, who followed in the footsteps of his father, legendary ring announcer Jimmy Sr., who passed away in 1992, called Japan “a wonderful place to be.”

“And with a great champion like Murata, it’s a great honor,” said the 2017 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, who has been on the microphone for some other megafights including Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield in 1998 and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

With Murata in the ring, Lennon might have a chance to work at Tokyo Dome again. Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, who co-promotes Murata with Teiken Promotions, said Friday that he wants to co-host a title match for Murata fighting against Gennady Golovkin, the WBA (super), WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight champion, in the near future.

“Of course, I would love to see that happen,” Lennon said with a smile, when asked if he hopes it materializes. “That’s a very high goal and a very honorable goal. And that would be exciting and I hope I can be there when that happens.”

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