Larry Merchant interview

By Vitali Shaposhnikov: It seems that fame has its own side effect and perfection is harshly judged in any aspect of life. Larry Merchant has been involved in boxing for well over 45 years. Before joining HBO in 1978, he was a professional columnist for Philadelphia Daily News and the NY Post.

He is a professional commentator, writer, historian and an analyst for the sweet science; this man lives and breathes boxing.

Merchant said “I’ve been calling it a legal sucker-punch.” About Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s knockout of Victor Ortiz.”
“I can only think of two fighters, who retired when they could make eight figure paydays: Hagler after the Leonard fight, and Lennox Lewis.”

“It took him twenty or more seconds to pull himself together; he was so emotional.” About Buster Douglas post Tyson win.
“I had nothing to do with Max Kellerman coming to HBO”.

Larry has been known to be controversial in his approach to commentating about and interviewing fighters, ending up being the cause of drama on a few occasions with a few different fighter. Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, and last but not least Floyd Mayweather Jr., all had their differences and aggressive word exchanges with Merchant.

Lately, some boxing fans as well as the professional sector started hinting that Larry is no longer good for boxing. They are convinced that he may be too old, senile and just too self-centered to do his job. There is always someone looking to find something wrong in Larry Merchant, but this is no easy task.

Merchant, in my opinion, is something that boxing cannot do without. Sure Max Kellerman is vigorously being groomed to replace Merchant and take his spot as the HBO boxing analyst, and while he is gaining ground fast, he is not yet at the right level.

The old man with grey hair, wearing a tuxedo with a bowtie, is the only one who has the guts and the courage to speak his mind. He is not afraid to ask what we all truly want to hear answers to.

Merchant’s boxing wisdom is also something to be treasured. He knows a tremendous amount about the sport of boxing, and could respond to any question in a deposition setting within seconds. HBO is not an amateur in sports entertainment, and they know well that Merchant is not a figure you want to eliminate at any point in time.

Whether you are an avid hockey fan, basketball junkie or a football enthusiast, everyone knows Larry Merchant. John Madden to football is what Larry Merchant is to boxing: a household name that will be remembered for years to come.

A week ago, on September 27, 2011, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Merchant at his home to talk boxing. He was a very gracious and welcoming host, and gave us the time we needed for a good interview. We covered a fairly wide spectrum of boxing topics, so I hope you enjoy this interview. Thanks!

Article posted on 17.10.2011

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