Ring Announcer Michael Buffer Winning 'Rumble' With Cancer
The man known for igniting crowds with an electrifying introduction of boxers with his signature, copywritten phrase, "Lets Get Ready To Rumble," was receiving potentially life-- if not -- career-threatening neck and throat surgery.
"The prognosis early on was that I would have to have continuous radiation, which, of course would cause a problem with the saliva glands, which would mean I wouldn't be doing any more announcing," said Buffer, 65, whose operation removed a lymph node attached to his tonsils -- the source of a cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Before the procedure, Buffer was planning to write out his will.
"I was preparing to retire and get all of my affairs in order, but I actually had a really excellent surgeon, Dr. Dale Rice, who is one of the best in the world," said Buffer, during an exclusive telephone interview with FanHouse.
"[Rice] said, 'I'm going to take care of this for you, and you won't have to have any radiation,' which was not what I had heard from other doctors," Buffer said. "I woke up out of surgery, and my voice was there."
By April 19, Buffer was back in the ring at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center, announcing the names of former world champions,Bernard Hopkins of Philadelphia, and Joe Calzaghe of Wales, before the latter's light heavyweight, 12-round, unanimous decision.
"I'm in remission. But every six months, you get your checkup and you keep your fingers crossed," said Buffer. "And my last PET scan was totally negative."
On Saturday night, Buffer will be at it again, this time, announcing four fights on HBO's pay per view card -- capped by the main event between Michigan native and undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. of Las Vegas and Mexico City's Juan Manuel Marquez at catchweight of 144 pounds.
The difference, this time, is that on the same night his brother, Bruce Buffer, will be shouting his signature, "It's time," as announcer for another pay-per-view event -- UFC 103 and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The larger battle is betweeen the pay-per-view cards and the two combat sports, but Michael Buffer doesn't see it as brother vs. brother.
"We never even feel like it's any competition. It's just a matter of when the UFC thing came along, I said, 'Why don't you go for it,'" said Michael Buffer, adding that Bruce "manages the business for our registered trademark, 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble.'"
"I actually did a few UFC events years ago," said Michael Buffer, who worked his first professional boxing match in 1982. "But I had a contract at the time with WCW wrestling and they felt it was a conflict with their pay-per-view since UFC does attract a bit of their wrestling fans."
Ironically, one of the last fights Buffer worked before his surgery was a Marquez bout on March 15, 2008.
Marquez lost his World Boxing Council super featherweight (130 pounds) title by 12-round, unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
An Encinio, CA., resident who has two grown sons, Buffer has since married the former Christine Prado, to whom he proposed on "The Tonight Show."
"Because I work in Europe a lot, my wife and I always take some side trips. I just worked a show in Germany, and this year alone, it's been Bejing, Barcelona, Milan," Buffer said. "Life is nice. You become more aware of enjoying everyday. Everything you say you want to do with your life, I'm making sure that I do it."