LET’S get it on permanent record now: Mike Costello is an excellent commentator and more educated about boxing than the vast majority. He understands the nuances of boxing from both a business and sporting perspective. He’s fought, he’s trained, he’s studied, he’s listened, he’s advised and he’s provided thoughtful and accurate observations for a long time. In short, he’s an excellent acquisition by Matchroom and DAZN and one that the boxing hardcore seem delighted with.
But none of the above means he won’t make a mistake nor score or view a fight differently to you and I in the future. And a difference of opinion, particularly in boxing, doesn’t mean the knives have to come out. I have seen some excellent journalists, commentators, presenters and analysts get savaged on social media, ones who were once exciting and new but due to the often cruel nature of places like Twitter, their confidence, popularity and well-being found itself under relentless attack. There are unfounded accusations of favouritism and unfair assassinations of character. One hopes that never happens to Costello, who is a beacon of integrity in a sport that is notoriously difficult to navigate. His unwillingness to create a social media account is perhaps the biggest testament to that.
I work in a privileged position in boxing and Mike is one of a select few in the industry whose judgement and character I trust implicitly. That doesn’t mean I always agree with everything he says, though it’s rare that we see things differently.
Let’s hope this is not only a fresh start for him, as he steps away from the BBC after a lifetime working for them, but a fresh start for those people who take too much pleasure from abusing without understanding the potential implications of that abuse. This is not a plea to not voice disagreement, or even not to be critical, but a hope that we can all just be kinder. Already, beneath the waves of congratulations and applause that justly greeted Costello’s appointment, there was the odd voice suggesting he’s sold out, that it won’t be long before he starts favouring Matchroom fighters. What absolute nonsense.
I would like to congratulate both Mike and Matchroom for this appointment. Eddie Hearn, who remains an excitable fight fan at heart, listened to what the boxing public wanted and made Costello his number one target. Congratulations, too, to the rest of the team they’ve put together. Andy Lee, Tony Bellew, Darren Barker and Chris Lloyd are all fine boxing people who will give their new roles everything they’ve got. The brilliant sports presenter Laura Woods and Maya Jama are new faces to the sport. Let’s try and treat them kindly, too.