Adnan Virk Chats About Calling First DAZN Fight, 5 Movies to See Before You Die

Adnan Virk
Adnan Virk /

Earlier this week, Adnan Virk chatted with The Big Lead. He will be calling his first fights for DAZN on the Jacobs/Chavez Jr. undercard on Saturday and will return to the MLB whiparound show, ChangeUp, in the spring. We discussed preparing to call the fights, his previous experience in play-by-play, the movies he urges everyone to see, and The Irishman.

Ryan Glasspiegel: You'll be calling your first fights for DAZN on the undercard of Jacobs vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. How do you prepare to call fights?

Adnan Virk: It's my first time calling them so naturally the key is to gain advice from all the other pros around me. I've hosted a handful of fights now and have paid special attention to how Brian Kenny and Todd Grisham call them: the rhythm, cadence, jargon, etc.

Also Corey Erdmann, our researcher, is invaluable. He sends all the notes on the boxers so that information is critical towards selling storylines of the fighters and their backgrounds

RG: Have you been, like, calling old fights on tape and then getting feedback for it and things of that nature? And how do you prepare to get chemistry with the color commentator?

AV: With Corey I'm going to call a practice round or two today or tomorrow in order to prepare. He is an accomplished fight caller himself so he can help me in terms of navigating the lexicon, do's and don'ts and so on. The key from my understanding is you can't call every jab, hook and uppercut. Be judicious about the important moments and feel when the action is being dictated or rises to a crescendo and match that verbally. Otherwise keep it conversational and allow the color guy, Sergio Mora, to impart as much knowledge and opinion as possible. I haven't called a fight with Sergio before but being around him on the road in Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas, we've developed a rapport and am eager to work with him in this capacity.

I've always been a fight fan so I feel like even my passion for the sport going back to listening to Jim Lampley or Joe Tessitore or the film Raging Bull, it all comes out in some form or fasion

RG: On your journey, have you ever called other sporting events?

AV: Yes, I did play by play for 15 MLB games at ESPN. No bigger thrill than me for calling games at Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Ive called a handful of college hoops games at ESPN. Back in Canada, I called two CFL games on radio. Go Tickets!

I called a women's volleyball final, a sport I know little about but that was a fun baptism by fire. I also did Alabama's spring college football game with Joey Galloway and Kirk Herbstreit, which was cool.

RG: Speaking of MLB, you'll be returning to ChangeUp on DAZN (the RedZone esque MLB show) next Spring. How did doing that show compare to what your expectations were for it?

AV: Baseball has been and always will be my first love so to be able to return to doing a show five nights a week after Baseball Tonight's content was cut significantly at ESPN was such a huge win for me. Not only were we able to give people the best games as they happen but I was so fortunate to develop such great chemistry with Scott Rogowsky who's one of the funniest people I've ever met. We matched each other with movie references, inside jokes and of course a lifelong passion for the sport.

The whole crew from the Cespedes BBQ to Lauren Gardner to Tony luftman, Alfredo Lomeli and Keith Irizarry, we were lucky to be led by our bosses from Jamie Horowitz and Logan Swaim and Anthony Jimenez on the DAZN side to rob McGlarry and Dave Patterson from MLB Network -- it really was a unique and rewarding collaboration.

RG: This is a little bit of a niche question, but I'm a Brewers fan and they just signed Justin Smoak. When someone's on your baseball team you watch him every day, and you pay special attention to the Blue Jays, where he came from ... Are the homers worth the low batting average and lot of strikeouts with him?

AV: Haha I gotta be honest, I wasn't crazy about him. Too many K's and the low batting average which you cited. I understand it's a different game now which I totally appreciate with regards to launch angle and looking to bash as much as possible but he shouldn't be as much of a swing and miss guy as he is. I wasn't able to use my Cheech and Chong homage "up in smoke" with him for home runs as much as I was for all the K's he racked up! I'd like to see the Brewers focus on some pitching but I did think Craig Counsell should've been manager of the year and my sister-in-law is from Milwaukee so I'm always happy for the Brew Crew's success (and Uek of course).

RG: You're obviously a big movie buff, and host the Cinephile podcast where you go deep into your thoughts on films. What are five movies that should be mandatory for everyone to watch before they die?

AV: Haha, always something I spend a lot of time pondering. You can't match the propulsive, infectious joy of the eminently quotable and often imitated, never duplicated GoodFellas -- Scorsese's mob drama which is also a killer black comedy.

I think Raging Bull is as exquisite a film as you can make. De Niro's transformative work as Jake LaMotta and the punishment he gives both in and outside of the ring is gorgeously shot in black and white by Michael Chapman and it's only in Scorsese's hands that a character as repellent as Lamotta can achieve some measure of redemption. Plus all the exchanges with De Niro and Joe Pesci are the stuff of high comedy.

Taxi Driver is the best film ever about loneliness and urban alienation and also a cinematic classic that holds up. The Godfather 1 and 2, epic sagas from Francis Ford Coppola give us our five.

But if you want some comedies to spruce things up before last rites, I'd recommend any of the following: Planes Trains and Automobiles, Adaptation, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Naked Gun!

RG: Scorcese dominates your list. Can I indulge you in one quick theory about The Irishman, which you said was the best film of 2019, before we go?

AV: Of course. I haven't shut up about The Irishman and saw it three times in theaters (which is the only way to see a Scorsese film). I'm just hoping when the film wins best picture he screams joyously, "Take that, Avengers!" His crew of De Niro, Pesci, Keitel and my man Pacino for the first time are my type of superheroes.

RG: So there were those stories in Slate and Vanity Fair that criticized the story for being probably inaccurate. But I think Scorcese was telling us at the end when De Niro was droning on and on and didn't seem to be totally with it that we had just watched a story that was told by an unreliable narrator. Do you put any stock into that idea?

AV: Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. I think De Niro is telling the story that he feels is totally credible and the overarching sweep of the film is that it's elegiac and mournful. They could never top Goodfellas or Casino, which is why Pesci was resistant to the whole idea of saddling up again. But this is a much sadder meditation on the lonely life of a wiseguy and deglamorizes the mafia. I don't think Scorsese and De Niro are interested in the actual mechanics of who killed Hoffa as they are in the psychology surrounding it and the classic themes of loyalty and betrayal.

As for the veracity, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story, if indeed Sheeran's tale is fiction.

RG: I'll get you out of here on this: You sent the above tweet from McDonald's in Saudi Arabia (when you were there for Ruiz-Joshua 2 on DAZN) asking what they call a quarter pounder with cheese, in reference Pulp Fiction. Did you ever figure out what they call it there?

AV: Haha I appreciate you noticing. I didn't have any Saudi currency on me so I was content to roam the streets of Riyadh and take pictures without venturing inside. I was most overjoyed to find a Tim Horton's but again, wasn't convinced the Canadian term of "double double" would translate.