Iconic MC Michael Buffer was in attendance to introduce the boxers to a press conference
As Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko make their entrances on Saturday night, look closely and you will see a well-dressed man speaking gibberish to himself in the ring.
‘I’m just standing there going, ‘mee-mee-mee, la-la-la-la-la-la, hee-hee-hee, mmm-mmm-mmm’,’ Michael Buffer tells Sportsmail, jumping from baritone lows to soprano highs with ease. ‘I wait until I’m in the ring to warm up because it’s so noisy, no-one can hear me.’
Buffer is a veteran of ‘well over a thousand fights’, and a 35-year career has seen him inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. But Buffer is no fighter – though he does have one hell of a hook.
All eyes will be on Buffer as he introduces Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley
‘When I first started they were introducing everyone,’ says Buffer, whose ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’ battle cry has preceded the world’s biggest bouts since the mid-1980s and will get the crowd on their feet as Joshua takes on Klitschko on Saturday night.
‘From the people on the commission to the doctors, the referee, the judges, the board members… it was really getting out of hand and killing the crowd. I just wanted to let them know that they’re about to meet the stars of the show.
‘It wasn’t a big deal at first, but I stuck with it and after a few drinks one night a friend told me to shut the heck up after saying ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ as the crowd wanted to react. So I started pausing and sure enough, there was a huge reaction. That’s when I knew I was on to a winner.’
Buffer will stand in the centre of the ring on Saturday and give his legendary introduction
The super heavyweight belt has been specially commissioned with images of both boxers
Buffer, 72, was born and raised in Philadelphia and was working as a male model before his career in the ring.
It was only when his eldest son, on watching a TV announcer give the scores of a split decision in the wrong order and ruin the surprise of who had won, suggested that his old man could do a much better job that Buffer embarked on a career that has pushed his estimated net worth north of $150million (around £120m).
‘I was in my early 30s and started contacting the hotels and promoters,’ Buffer explained. ‘I managed to get my foot in the door with them, but it would be a compliment to say I was dreadful when I first started!
‘I was nervous, my hands were shaking – I was a disaster. It’s one thing to practise in front of a mirror at home, but another to do it in front of 800 people or on live TV.
‘I got another chance half a year later and was able to correct a lot of things. I still watch myself back on tape to this day, always trying to improve my performance.’
Joshua and Klitschko share a joke as they stare at each other on Thursday afternoon
Tony Bellew is congratulated by Buffer after his 11th-round stoppage of David Haye last month
Three decades later, Buffer is still at the top of his game and little has changed in his pre-fight routine.
‘After making my notes in the afternoon, I usually visit the fighters in their dressing rooms before they go out,’ Buffer says. ‘I check what colour trunks they’ll be wearing and sometimes the pronunciation of their names, particularly if they’re from eastern Europe or Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia. I’ll make sure I write those out phonetically.
‘Some guys’ names I love announcing. I actually gave Mike Tyson his ‘Iron Mike’ nickname…’ Buffer pauses momentarily and switches to announcer mode.
‘Tyyyyyyyy-soooooon!’ he booms, knowing that we are alone in his hotel lounge.
‘Evander ‘Real Deal’ Hoooooooooolyfield!’ That’s another fun one to say.
‘One of my current favourites is ‘Anthonyyyyyyyyyyy’ – I drag that out forever then pause for the crowd – ‘Joshhhhhuaaaaaaaa!’
An animated Klitschko pulls a funny face as he arrives for the press conference in London
Like Klitschko, Joshua enjoyed a dramatic entrance as he arrived at the press conference
Witnessing Buffer’s vocal gymnastics up close is very entertaining, but there is a serious side. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2008.
‘The plan was to operate on my tonsils and lymph nodes, but the surgeon said there was a possibility I might never talk again,’ says Buffer, who has never had his voice insured.
‘When I woke up after the operation, wondering whether I could still talk, I noticed no one was around. The first words I thought to say were, ‘Ladies and gentlemen…’ and my voice sounded almost exactly how it was supposed to. I thought: ‘Holy s***, maybe I can still work.’
Thirty days later, Buffer was back at work, introducing Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe to a full house in Las Vegas.
Buffer took up being a ring MC after his eldest son challenged him to do the job to a high level
The 72-year-old was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2008 and his voice is not insured
He’s had a couple of voice-related incidents since. ‘For Mayweather-Pacquiao (in 2015) I woke up the morning of the fight and literally had no voice,’ Buffer reveals.
‘It was fading the night before because I had been doing interviews all week, including speaking to guys in Europe at 3am. On Saturday morning it was gone. ‘But after a day eating chicken noodle soup and gargling salt water I was just able to do what I had to do that evening.’
So what will Buffer do to make sure the same doesn’t happen on Saturday? ‘A throat-coating tea with some honey is very soothing for my throat, so I always travel with that. But mostly I try not to do too many of these interviews!’
Buffer will have his own pre-fight routine lined up to make sure his famous voice delivers again