Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Michael Buffer Announces On

One major beneficiary of "American Idol" going boxing theme for the finale last night was Michael Buffer, the man behind “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”

Buffer, who recently recovered from throat cancer surgery and treatment, is back to his grueling schedule after a brief hiatus needed to recover.

Since the surgery, Buffer – whose famous line has yielded more than $400 million in gross retail sales of licensed merchandise – has been the ring announcer for the Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe fight (April 19) and the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight (May 3).

As we speak, he’s on a plane right now to London from Los Angeles, where he uttered his famous line on “American Idol,” to announce the Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano fight.

After “Idol” decided to go with the boxing theme between David Archuleta and David Cook (I can’t believe they carried it out that far putting the guys in robes and splicing in sound from Jim Lampley), Buffer discussed the idea of him being part of the show with the show’s executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.

His brother Bruce --who serves Michael’s business manager, the voice of UFC and recently a mainstay on the Poker circuit – negotiated the deal.

Bruce told me that the fee that his brother received for “Idol” was comparable to what he makes for a fight, but that wasn’t why he did it.

“The cross-promotion opportunity with a show as popular as ‘Idol’ was the key,” Bruce said. “Money didn’t play an important role in Michael doing this.”

The money keep’s coming in for Let’s Rumble. The third version of the “Ready 2 Rumble” video game will be released on Nintendo’s Wii. Bruce said the first two versions of the game did more than $200 million in retail sales.

Bruce also said that he and Michael are working on a “Rumble” bar and restaurant franchise that will role out in different cities.

Said Bruce: “The phrase is not about fighting. We call it the ultimate clarion call to the pure integrity of the competitive spirit.”

Bruce is extremely aggressive with the “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” trademark and is known throughout the industry as being quick to protect it with cease-and-desist letters, which have a high success rate. Buffer estimates he’s sent out more than 250 of them over the years to infringers.

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