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Harold Lederman, HBO analyst, a 'walking encyclopedia' of boxing

HBO analyst Harold Lederman.

HBO analyst Harold Lederman. Credit: HBO

Harold Lederman isn't complaining. How could he, given how much fun he is having in a job he plans to continue doing "forever," his health and HBO willing?

Still, there is the matter of a 16-hour direct flight from JFK to Hong Kong to endure tomorrow en route to his latest gig -- in Macau for Saturday night's Chris Algieri-Manny Pacquiao bout.

"I'd rather the fight be at The Paramount theater in Huntington, Long Island," the HBO boxing analyst and judge said, laughing. "And if it was up to Algieri, we would be in Huntington, Long Island, or Nassau County Coliseum."

Perhaps so, but the boxing show must go on wherever the business plan takes it, so Lederman will brave the journey to offer his judging opinions on the Long Islander's upset bid.

For Lederman, 74, the road trip is another leg in an excellent adventure that began when he became an official fight judge in 1967 and an unofficial HBO judge in 1986, a job he continued after retiring from active judging in 1999.

Oh, almost forgot: He had a day job, too, until 2011, when he retired from a long career as a . . . pharmacist?

"I was at the point where I'd been working in pharmacies over 50 years; I started in my dad's drugstore when I was 4 years old," he said. "It was enough filling prescriptions already."

He served toward the end as something of a roving pharmacist for the Duane Reade chain.

"They would be like, 'Harold, on Monday go to 79th Street and Second Avenue. Tuesday, go up to White Plains.' I was all over the place."

Occasionally, customers would recognize him and he would indulge them with boxing talk. But from the start, he mostly has been an off-camera voice, which provides him some anonymity.

Lederman lately has been both seen and heard in a YouTube series called "Hey Harold," on which he offers boxing opinions and whose popularity has amazed him.

"It's unreal," he said. "I'm liable to walk down the street and people will recognize me . . . But I don't exactly get invited to the Academy Awards yet. They ain't asking me to walk any red carpets."

Off camera, Lederman leads with a distinctive Bronx accent by way of Manhattan for high school (Stuyvesant) and college (Columbia).

"I can say 'hello' and people say, 'You've got a Bronx accent,' " he said. "It's a bit unusual, but what can I say?"

Said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman: "He's a walking encyclopedia and there's no bigger fan of boxing anywhere in the world . . . There are so many characters around boxing, and Harold is one of the gems."

Lederman's daughter Julie followed him into the fight business, and he called her "one of the best judges in the world."

For her father, his opinion does not decide fights, but they do shape public opinion.

"I've tried to give the impression I know what I'm talking about and generally have the right score and give you an honest call," he said. "I've tried very hard to keep up that reputation, and it's been difficult. There have been a lot of controversial fights over the years."

Lederman hopes Saturday's will be competitive enough to warrant expert opinion. But he believes Algieri already has provided a valuable service.

"Chris has really revived boxing on Long Island in a big way," he said. "I think he's done a wonderful job, not only for himself, but for boxing on Long Island."

Even if his biggest stage to date will be far from The Paramount.

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