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Moving Ahead In The Action With…Aladdin Freeman

As more live sports return to ESPN platforms, meet some of the people working to deliver these events to fans

(Illustration: Emily Archacki)

MOVING AHEAD ARCHIVE
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This past Saturday, with the Pedraza vs Molina Junior card, longtime event director Aladdin Freeman wrapped a second approximately six-week long stint in a Top Rank on ESPN bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’ll be back in Sin City next month as Top Rank and ESPN produce a third series of events in the bubble, including the highly anticipated Lomachenko vs. Lopez lightweight unification bout on October 17.

ESPN event director Aladdin Freeman gets creative with a workout during his free time within the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Aladdin Freeman/ESPN)
“I cannot wait for all of us on the boxing side to get together again and just hang out at the table,” said Freeman. “Tim Bradley will say something crazy, truthful and funny. Andre Ward will have me thinking about something at a higher intellectual level. Joe Tessitore will make sure we keep it real and that we do it not just well, but near perfectly.  Bernardo Osuna will make sure we have fun and all the information is correct. Mark Kriegel will digest the discussion and add something thoughtful to it. Finally, I look forward to seeing Mike McQuade smile; it is rare, like the aurora borealis, but when it comes, it’s magnetic and genuine.”

Freeman works alongside boxing greats like former two-division world titleholder Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley Jr., now an analyst for ESPN, who said of Freeman: “Aladdin is my brother from another mother! A real one! He is the best boxing director in the world today. He is extremely knowledgeable and faithful to the sport of boxing. I am thankful to have not only a professional, intelligent director in the truck, but more importantly, a brother for life.”

Top Rank’s COO Brad Jacobs is also a Freeman fan: “Top Rank on ESPN had already established itself as the preeminent boxing broadcast across the world with incredible on-air talent and a behind-the-scenes production team second to none. One of the key members of that team is director extraordinaire Aladdin Freeman. Not only has his work been a model for others, but his exemplary efforts week-in and week-out during the pandemic-period broadcasts have helped make a small Las Vegas ballroom look like a world class arena.”

BIO BLAST

Name: Aladdin Freeman
Hometown/Residence: Washington D.C.
Role/Dept./Years at ESPN: Event director. Twenty years at ESPN, the last eight as a director.
Favorite All-Time Athlete: Bo Jackson…Come on, he was like a comet! Otherworldly.
Current Favorite Athlete: DeShaun Watson and LeBron James. “Athletes are finding their voices with their platforms, taking a sense of pride in their communities, from DeShaun giving back as Warrick Dunn gave, as LeBron gives and what he’s done with the youth of Akron, OH as well as the city of Cleveland, as boxer Jose Ramirez does for California’s San Joaquin Valley. I think more people are realizing they have to take off the blinders and do more for the youth at a local and state level to affect real change. This gives me a great sense of pride in these athletes across all sports.”
The thing I’ve missed most about sports… Being part of a team and just the overall feeling I get when I watch or direct an event.
The ESPN game/studio personality I want to see back in action most… Rece Davis. He is one of the most down to earth people I know, lives the ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’ principle and epitomizes class and enthusiasm in his coverage and delivery.

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