Bert Cooper, Harold Lederman (R.I.P.)
By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association … Contributor to dmboxing.com since 2008 with expertise, articles, and input
Last week, boxing lost both Bert Cooper and Harold Lederman. Bert Cooper began as a cruiserweight but it was as a heavyweight that he fought every major figure in the late 1980’s and the 1990’s including George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, and Michael Moorer. His overall record does not speak Hall of Fame with 25 losses go to with his 38 wins but many of his losses came later in his career. From the time he fought his first pro fight in 1984 to his last fight in 2012, he proved to be a warrior and willing to go toe-to-toe with any fighter. RIP Bert Cooper.
Harold Lederman educated an entire audience on the nuances of boxing and scoring through his position with HBO. Perhaps Lederman’s death symbolized the change in boxing and the new TV reality. Lederman, from his perch at HBO, was part of some of the biggest fights, and there was a time that HBO was where the big fights were; but today, HBO no longer covers boxing matches and Lederman, sadly, is no longer with us to score fights.
Lederman would tell the boxing fans that the four big ways to view a fight include ring generalship, clean scoring, defense, and effective aggressiveness. He explained how each played a role in his scoring, and I would agree with Lederman’s view the vast majority of the time.
Lederman spent six decades involved in the sports and now his daughter, Julie, carries on the legacy. Lederman was known more for his scoring fights on HBO, but he judged over 1000 fights as a judge and those six decades gave Lederman a unique perspective on the sport as well historical insight. He also was not afraid of the new technology, such as Compubox, and used them in his analysis. (While Compubox has its limitations, it does give a fan insight into the sport and, explained correctly, it does give you insight on why a boxer won or lost a fight.)
I met Lederman at a bout in New York that was part of an ESPN telecast in the early part of this century. He was the perfect gentleman and gave both myself and my daughter great insight into the fight game that evening.
Lederman originated the practice that every broadcast now does, which is combining the scoring with his view of the boxing match. HBO over the past several years was eclipsed by Showtime and other cable outlets. Showtime is now where the boxing action is, but ESPN still has a hand in boxing along with UFC, while FOX Sports has their own broadcasts, as well. Harold Lederman still provided excellent analysis until the bitter end of HBO. Harold Lederman RIP.