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Larry Merchant – A living legend!

By Rizwaan Zahid (01-Sep-2007)

Photo Credit: HBO SportsLarry Merchant is currently one of the most recognized faces in boxing. Not only has he been a commentator with HBO boxing for nearly 30 years, but he has been active in the boxing world for decades. The 76 year old has done what few others have done, by having a background in print journalism and starting work in broadcast journalism.

Larry was born in Brooklyn in 1931, and quickly evolved into a sports writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. But as Merchant points out, he did not plan to have a career in the sport at a young age.

“No ten or twelve year old decides that they want to be a boxing announcer”, says Larry. “It was nothing I ever planned, it evolved in that direction. I have been very fortunate”.

After working for the New York Post, Larry joined HBO. During those 30 years Merchant has been criticized many times for his commentating and interviewing style. Most fans either love him or hate him, and which ever one you choose, you have to respect the fact that he always says what’s on his mind and tell it like it is.

During an interview with Vernon Forrest last summer after his questionable victory over Ike Quartey, Vernon thanked God as well as his friends and family. Larry replied, “Would you also like to thank the judges?” This blunt style is not new for Larry as he has had previous arguments with Floyd Mayweather and has even proceeded to comment certain fights as “crap”, when they simply are just that. He has also had confrontations with Hopkins after Hopkins victory over Mouradde Hakkar and Oscar De La Hoya.

Larry may be stubborn, however he does admit to his mistakes. In an interview with Fightfan.com, Larry once said he was commentating on a fight where he thought “one fighter was a bum”. However that fighter surprised everyone including Merchant by putting on a great fight. He has been said to be arrogant, but many would argue that Larry was simply stating what he believes and voices his opinion with evidence.

A recent example could be seen after Taylor managed to squeak out a decision over Cory Spinks. Larry asked Taylor if he wanted to fight Pavlik next (Pavlik had annihilated Miranda on the under card of the same event). Taylor responded by saying he would fight anybody, however Merchant reiterated “I know you’ll fight anybody, but I’m talking about him. Is that the fight you’re going to command?” Larry received his answer when Taylor said he will fight which ever fight brings the most money to the table whether that is Pavlik or not.

Larry was simply getting the answer to his question, and although some criticize his approach to getting his answers, he usually gets the answer to the question he poses.

In 2002, Merchant was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame for his years of hard work and dedication to the sport he loves.

Larry has been on HBO for nearly three decades. His slicked back hair went from dark brown to bright white, however besides the aging effects; Larry Merchant has the same broadcasting style he had since he started with HBO in 1978. But he continues learning, and points out that boxing is not just about the hits or the gashes.

“To me boxing is not just fierce drama, but it is also a chance to observe human behavior in and out of the ring and that has been rewarding to me.”

Personally, I believe Larry Merchant’s insight to each fight is always intriguing, although I do not always agree with him, he always poses a strong argument. I feel privileged that the many fights I watch usually involve him as a commentator, and after his contract extension, I feel happy that I can listen to his insight and straight up style for another two years.

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