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R.I.P. Harold Lederman

On Saturday afternoon, word spread quickly throughout the boxing world that Harold Lederman had died at the age of 79 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

To those in the industry who had known him for years, it was like losing your favorite uncle, or your best friend -- or at least someone who made you feel you were his best friend. He was that kind of guy.

Knowing Lederman, the greatest regret he might have had is that he couldn't make it through Saturday night's big cards on ESPN and Fox. He would've watched every fight intently and then talked at length with anybody who wanted to discuss what had just taken place.

He was the ultimate boxing guy. Nobody loved boxing and the fight scene more than Lederman, whose day job for years was as a pharmacist at ShopRite in Carmel, New York. Lederman came from a family of pharmacists, with his father, grandfather and four uncles having been in the same trade, but boxing was his calling.

To all of us, he was "The Judge" for HBO Sports -- a role that began in 1986 with the heavyweight title fight between Trevor Berbick and Pinklon Thomas.

With his distinctive rapid-fire delivery and infectious personality, he became a staple of boxing -- not only as a staple of the HBO broadcast, but a friendly and trusted voice for generations of boxing fans. The HBO crew, which for years was the gold standard in boxing -- if not all of sports -- with the likes of boxing legends Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, Emanuel Steward and Roy Jones, Harold was the most relatable voice to the average fan.

In the immediate aftermath of his passing, there has been a multitude of tributes written and spoken about the generosity and graciousness of Lederman, whether it was to fans who wanted to snap a photo with him at weigh-ins, to writers who wanted quotes for stories or broadcasters who were always given his time and patience.

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