The promotional news conference Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden finally morphed into a personal one, and the chaos began to unfurl.
Heavyweight goliaths Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder hurled obscenities and insults toward each other across the temporary stage.
But Kate Abdo remained calm from her post between Fury, the WBC champion, and Wilder and effortlessly diffused the bubbling tension.
“It’s fun to be in that kind of energy,” she said. “This felt good to me. I feel like they’re both ready.”
Abdo has emerged as one of the faces of boxing broadcasting and is in Las Vegas covering Fury and Wilder’s epic trilogy for Fox and Premier Boxing Champions. The 40-year-old moderated their final news conference — a first in her career — and will host the pay-per-view telecast Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
She also covers boxing for DAZN and soccer for CBS Sports. But her heart is with the sweet science, and her passion is palpable.
Breaking into boxing
Abdo didn’t plan on becoming a broadcaster while growing up in Manchester, England. Her parents taught physical education, and she developed an interest in soccer and boxing, but she wanted to be a translator and traveled across Europe after graduation to learn different languages.
She eventually made her way to Germany, where she interned as a translator at Deutsche Welle. But one of the TV station’s sportscasters abruptly left, creating an opportunity on camera for Abdo.
“It’s a pressure to perform, I suppose,” said Abdo, who debuted on camera at 23. “I enjoyed that sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.”
Soccer quickly became Abdo’s forte, and she moved from Germany to the United Kingdom to cover the sport’s European landscape for CNN and Sky Sports. Boxing is also among the most popular sports in the United Kingdom, and she was “always involved in the buildup to a big fight.”
Sky Sports, she said, was looking to change its boxing coverage and “wanted to put a woman at the forefront.” So the network turned to Abdo and tasked her with hosting its coverage of the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight in 2016, only for it to be postponed after an injury to Klitschko.
The postponement allowed Abdo to delve deeper into the nuances and history of the sport and prepared her for her debut the week of Sept. 10, 2016, on the Gennady Golovkin-Kell Brook card.
“From then on in, I was like ‘Soccer is nice, but I want to do boxing,’” she said before detailing the challenges she faces as a woman in predominantly male space.
“You’re always really conscious that there’s no room for mistakes. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and if you’re a female as the face of a sports broadcast, if there’s anything that shows that you’re completely new to this, people will write you off very quickly.”
Abdo left Sky Sports in 2017 for Fox. She was hired in part to anchor the network’s soccer coverage and moved to Los Angeles, where she’s currently based.
Her experience in boxing made her a natural fit at Fox, which began broadcasting boxing again in 2015.
“Her personality just jumps off the screen,” producer Tom McNeeley said. “I remember her doing an interview with Wilder. He’s a big, imposing guy with a brash personality. She stuck right with him during a Q and A in between bouts on one of our cards.”