“Indio! Are you ready?” Barrie Eget intones. The boxing crowd at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino roars. “For the thousands in attendance here this evening and to the millions watching around the world: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to throw down!”
People who watch boxing matches likely are familiar with Michael Buffer. Maybe they know Michael Buffer’s brother, Bruce, who announces UFC matches. They might recognize Jimmy Lennon or his son, Jimmy Jr. Fewer probably know Eget, but the Santa Clarita resident has made a nice living as a ring announcer these last 10 years.
He’s announced fights on HBO, Showtime, ESPN, NBC and CBS. He’s traveled to Canada and Mexico as well as Philadelphia, New York, Dallas, Miami and, of course, Las Vegas. Not only does he announce boxing matches, but also MMA and arm wrestling. Last year, he said, he announced 21 events.
“I’m incredibly grateful for what I’m compensated,” Eget said while picking at a plate of chicken nachos at a local pub. “I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Life around the sport
Eget grew up around boxing, the son of Julian Eget, whose obituary said he was vice president of the World Boxing Hall of Fame and president of the Golden State Boxing Association. By following his father around such places as the Olympic Auditorium, he was exposed to Lennon and how the venerable announcer “paid close attention to getting the names right.”
Eget’s connections to boxing also put him proximate to promoter Dan Goossen, who gave Eget his first announcing job for $100, at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Along the way, he’s had his share of memorable moments. His highest-profile appearance came March 7, 2015, at the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena when he announced the title fight between welterweights Keith Thurman and Robert Guerrero on NBC (Thurman retained his title in a unanimous decision). Eget said it was the most-watched boxing show in 20 years.
“For me, it was pretty sensational,” he said.
There was a scary time for him in 2011 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. in which a split decision went against what the fans thought (and Eget, too), and they got unruly. The problem was there was still one fight left on the card, and the promoter asked Eget to announce that.
“I had guys threatening me like I had made the decision,” he said. “They made it clear they were going to kick my ass.”
Behind-the-scenes prep work
The best announcers make it look so easy, but Eget insists there is a great deal of prep work that goes into what he calls “the show.”
The week before the fight, he starts working on the names. Besides the fighters’ names and nicknames, there are sanctioning body presidents, sponsors, judges, referees and famous people who will be in the crowd. And if Eget announces an entire card of up to 11 fights, that’s a lot of names. He spends a great deal of time practicing in his living room.
“You want to make them feel special,” he said.
Spanish names are relatively easy since they’re phonetic (he’s also learned how to roll his Rs). But a fighter from Ukraine can be a challenge.
Sometimes, he doesn’t get the pronunciations until the day before the fight because that’s when the fighter and his entourage finally arrive.
When it’s fight night, his job becomes simple: “Get everybody excited about what’s going to happen.”
When the fight ends, he has to read the decision, and he said Goossen taught him that is more important than the prefight hype and introductions, because it is absolutely essential to properly announce who won and if a title is retained or won. Unlike the pre-fight stuff, the decision is handed to the announcer immediately, and he has to parse it and announce it quickly. When the result is a knockout, it’s easy. When it’s a unanimous decision, Eget has to make sure he says the right name. A split decision is the most challenging, but Eget still has to make sure he announces the judges’ decisions and winner’s name correctly (a draw is similar, but there’s no winner to announce).
Buffer and Lennon
One reason Eget might not be as well known as Buffer or Lennon Jr. is because they’re associated with networks. Buffer announced on HBO; Lennon Jr. on Showtime. Eget negotiates directly with promoters. He said he had a good run with Ten Goose Boxing until Dan Goossen died and the company went in a different direction. He also did a lot with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions until the company decided to go with more Latinos.
Of Lennon, Eget said, “He’s incredibly gracious. He goes out of his way to talk about the show he caught, (how it’s) nice to see me, and things like that. It would be like Picasso coming up and saying, ‘Your artwork looks great.’ Jimmy’s incredibly supportive.”
Buffer? Not so much, and this saddens Eget greatly, for he idolized Buffer. Watch his videos on YouTube and hear that some of his inflections mimic Buffer.
Eget credits Buffer and his “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” catchphrase as revolutionizing the industry. No one had a signature line before Buffer; now, everybody does (Eget uses “It’s time to throw down!” and trademarked it, as Buffer did with LGRTR).
The problems come when Buffer believes his trademark has been infringed. In 2002, Bruce Buffer told ABC News that he has been involved in “maybe over 100” legal actions over the phrase.
Eget has run afoul, too. In 2013, Buffer’s lawyers went after him because Eget says, “Are you ready?” Eget said he also was served in 2014 and 2015. Each time, he had to spend thousands to retain an attorney, who made it go away without settlement and before it went to court.
“I went from idolizing him to I can’t stand him,” Eget said. “It’s a game they play, which is sad.”
He hasn’t had any problems in a few years, and he even has people coming up to him and saying, “Hey, you’re the throw-down guy.”
His next local gig is Feb. 8 at Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. There, he will stand in the ring, rile up the crowd and announce what’s happening.
Maybe he will remember the lesson Goossen imparted to him: “A ring announcer can make or break a fight. A good ring announcer can make a night great. A great ring announcer can make it magical.”