Larry Merchant in Classic form last Saturday night

larry merchant21.05.07 - By Steven Shabo: What Larry Merchant must be going through? After nearly a thirty year career with HBO Boxing, it was recently rumored that Merchant would be replaced when his contract expires in June by hot shot analyst, Max Kellerman. Like him or not, Larry Merchant is an original who definitely has his own style. It canít feel good to be pushed out of your job at seventy-six by some slickster less than half your age. In fairness to HBO, it does appear that Merchant has slowed down a little over the past year.

His unique poetic metaphors have started to sound stale and his quick wit has seemed to dull to the point where HBO sports boss, Ross Greenburg, felt it was ultimately time to pull the plug on Jim Lampleyís longtime partner. It has been reported that HBO is trying to bring in the younger audience to its boxing broadcasts and apparently they believe a fast talking hipster like Kellerman is the ticket. I guess out with the old and in with the new.

Well, this boxing fan will let them know that I really donít care who calls the fight. Give me good fights with good fighters and Iíll watch every time. Keep giving me crap fights like last nightsí Jermaine Taylor-Cory Spinks dud and I might not. And by the way, is Jermain Taylor really that good after all? After winning two questionable decisions against Bernard Hopkins and a debatable draw with Winky Wright, Taylor has looked unentertaining in his last two outings against smaller opponents. Taylor couldnít seem to put a dent in Kassim Ouma and last night, he didnít even try for a knockout against the runner Cory Spinks. In fact, I donít think I saw a solid punch landed in the entire twelve rounds by either boxer. Actually, I would say the hardest shot was landed outside of the ring which leads me back to our Larry Merchant.

Was it really necessary for him to state that former Olympic Gold Medalist and Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, Leon Spinks, is employed as a lowly janitor at a recreation center and a laborer at fast food restaurant? Did he really have to elude that the main reason Leon was in his sonís corner was so Cory could toss his poor dad a few measly bucks? I think most boxing fans are aware of the hard times Leon Spinks has faced in his life. There was absolutely no need for Larry to disrespect the man on national television. This cheap shot against an easy target like Leon Spinks reveals the bitterness and resentment that has consumed Merchant since the rumors began circulating of his most likely replacement.

Maybe Iím overreacting, maybe Iím not. The way I see it, boxers put their lives on the line every time they step in the ring for our violent entertainment. Most boxers donít make millions of dollars in their careers and many wind up broke with brain damage. Leon Spinks was once the heavyweight champion of the world. Most of us, including Larry Merchant, will never know that feeling. Show the man some respect. Leave with some dignity, Larry. You owe us that much.

Article posted on 22.05.2007

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