Mike Costello's top 10 most memorable moments

 


As he steps down as the BBC's boxing correspondent, Mike Costello reflects on the highlights of his 45-year BBC career.

Cathy Freeman, Sydney 2000

Cathy Freeman wins gold in the 400 metres, Sydney 2000
Having lit the Olympic flame, Cathy Freeman won 400m gold in Sydney, clocking 49.11 seconds to become Australia's second Aboriginal Olympic champion

The Freeman moment was seven years in the making - the expectation building from the moment Sydney was awarded the Games by the International Olympic Committee in 1993.

On the night of the 400m final, Freeman wore a full-length bodysuit (including a hood), as if to shield herself from all the pressure and any potential distraction.

She ran the race of her life - and the noise of the crowd of 112,500 was like nothing I have heard before or since.

Mayweather v Hatton, Las Vegas 2007

Ricky Hatton faces up to Floyd Mayweather
Manchester's Ricky Hatton fought the great WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas, losing by technical knockout in the 10th round

Earlier in the year, I had commentated on Floyd Mayweather's win against Oscar de la Hoya, an event which triggered his transition from world champion to superstar.

Yet come December, Ricky Hatton was heavily favoured by many British fans, and they swamped Las Vegas to make it a fight week like no other.

Mayweather was brilliant and he found wry humour at the post-fight news conference when, in response to the Hatton fans' song we had heard all week, he took to the dais and warbled: "There's only one May-weather..."

Usain Bolt, Beijing 2008

Usain Bolt celebrates gold at the Beijing Olympics
History was made by Usain Bolt in Beijing as he set new world records in winning gold in the 100m, 200m and - with his Jamaica team-mates - the 4x100m relay

My first Olympics for 5 Live heralded the arrival of the sprint legend.

Bolt virtually danced across the line in the 100m final, sauntering to Olympic gold as if it were all happening on a school sports day.

Having interviewed him in Jamaica in 2004, when he was a nervous 17-year-old intent on emulating Michael Johnson, it was mind-blowing to witness his growth on what would be the first of so many special Bolt nights.

My appointment as 5 Live's correspondent coincided with the emergence of Bolt and Mayweather as global icons, leading to a privilege beyond measure.

Christine Ohuruogu, Beijing 2008

Christine Ohuruogu celebrates winning Olympic gold
Christine Ohuruogu won Olympic 400m gold in 49.62 seconds

Christine's coach, Lloyd Cowan, had been unfailingly helpful to me in my early days as correspondent, and I happily stole his insight into the standout British moment on the track.

Ohuruogu came from fifth place at the entrance to the home straight to somehow win gold.

Lloyd died this year, so the hug and the photo we shared at the post-race news conference back then has become even more treasured.

Super Saturday, London 2012

Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford
Britain's Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford (pictured) and Jessica Ennis won athletics golds on an astonishing night of Olympic action in London

On the walk from Stratford tube station to the Olympic Stadium for the evening athletics session, we knew Jessica Ennis was 800 metres away from heptathlon gold, and that Mo Farah was favourite to win the 10,000m, but the night unfolded in a way few of us could have expected.

Greg Rutherford's victory in the long jump stitched together a sequence of three gold medals in the space of 45 minutes, and 80,000 of us were granted a licence to boast 'I was there' on one of the most memorable nights in British sporting history.

Farah's gold medal run was enthralling: usually, a 10,000m commentary consists of 20 laps of comment and chat followed by five laps building to a crescendo. This was different. Rutherford's gold was confirmed four laps into Mo's race and the stadium erupted, all the way to the blazing finish.

Froch v Groves II, Wembley Stadium 2014

Carl Froch hugs George Groves
After their first meeting in Manchester ended controversially, Froch v Groves II was billed as 'Unfinished Business'. Froch ended it with an eighth-round knockout of his fellow Briton

A fight for the social media age, built and hyped online.

Carl Froch had won their first contest six months earlier in a stoppage many, including George Groves, claimed was premature, and the clamour for the rematch turned into a fever.

Promoter Eddie Hearn tweeted about the prospect of the return taking place at Wembley Stadium, and the response convinced him the event would sell out.

A crowd of 80,000 created envy around the boxing world and there was a genuine split among the fans as to the outcome.

It was settled by a right hand from Froch in the eighth round which ranks among the best single-shot finishes I've ever seen in a British ring.

Tyson Fury v Wladimir Klitschko, Dusseldorf 2015

Klitcshko and Fury in action, Dusseldoef, Germany
The WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO and lineal heavyweight titles were on the line when Tyson Fury fought Wladimir Klitschko. The Briton won by a unanimous decision, ending Klitschko's reign of nearly 10 years

Fury's promoter at the time, Mick Hennessy, had told me repeatedly how the 'Gypsy King' was untouchable in sparring and would one day rule the heavyweight division.

In Klitschko's adopted homeland, Fury produced a performance to match any by a Briton abroad in prevailing on points.

Midway through the second round, as they came together in a clinch, Fury tapped Klitschko on the back of his trunks as if to say, "Come on, let's get on with it."

It was remarkable composure so early on, and a key factor in the disarming of a long-reigning champion who had engaged in more world title contests than Fury had had professional fights.

Muhammad Ali funeral, Louisville 2016

An emotional Mike Costello pays tribute to Muhammad Ali

I'm often asked if there is an event from the past I wish I had covered.

'The Rumble in the Jungle' between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974 is the answer - but I would settle for a commentary on any Ali fight.

As morbid as it seems, being in his hometown of Louisville for the funeral was high among my most special assignments.

His family insisted on a day of celebration, and they got their wish.

I positioned myself on the corner of Ninth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard as the cortege flowed past, and when the crowd of thousands broke into an unprompted rendition of 'Ali, Ali...' I was choked with emotion as my childhood hero was carried on to his final resting place.

The Rumble in The Jungle: Revisiting Muhammad Ali v George Foreman

Warrington v Selby, Elland Road 2018

Josh Warrington
Josh Warrington went into the fight as a 4-1 outsider with the bookmakers but produced the performance of a lifetime

The result - and the occasion - took me by surprise.

The Kaiser Chiefs played live to accompany Josh Warrington's walk to the ring, and the scene was set for a deafening chorus of approval lasting 12 rounds as Warrington defied the bookmakers' odds to outbox and outwork Lee Selby in winning the IBF featherweight title.

Warrington became the first men's world champion from Leeds - the intensity of his performance underpinned by the passion of the crowd.

It all brought back memories of those mighty Hatton nights in Manchester.

Joshua v Ruiz, New York 2019

Ady Ruiz celebrates victory over Anthony Joshua, New York
Anthony Joshua was WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight champion when he faced Andy Ruiz, but succumbed to a seventh-round technical knockout. Six months later, he won his belts back

One of my earliest memories of boxing is my dad waking me before school to tell me Muhammad Ali had been beaten by Joe Frazier in the 'Fight of the Century' in 1971.

To commentate on a world heavyweight title fight at the same Madison Square Garden all those years later was a dream come to life - and the shock defeat for Anthony Joshua only magnified the scale of the experience.

Across three fights (the others involving wins for Katie Taylor and Callum Smith), I had filled the role of presenter, ringside interviewer and commentator - amounting to as big a test as I have faced on air.

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