February 11, 1931 |
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Television journalist Boxing Commentator|
|Notable credit(s)||HBO World Championship Boxing Commentator (1978–2012)|
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Stich (former actress)|
|Children||two daughters, three step-sons|
Larry Merchant (born Larry Kaufman; February 11, 1931) is an American former sportswriter, a longtime commentator for HBO Sports presentations of HBO World Championship Boxing, Boxing After Dark and HBO pay-per-view telecasts, called "the greatest television boxing analyst of all time" by some, including ESPN Boxing analyst Dan Rafael,  and derided as out of touch, biased and incoherent by others.
Early life and education
Merchant was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, on February 11, 1931. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Merchant was interested in entering professional sports broadcasting. However due to the fear of anti semitism within the industry possibly halting any chances he had of succeeding, Merchant changed his legal surname "Kaufman" to its literal translation "Merchant". In 1978, Merchant joined HBO Sports as an analyst. Prior to joining HBO Sports, Merchant was a well-regarded sports columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News and a general reporter for the New York Post.
Merchant was part of the HBO Boxing commentary team along with Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman for championship and pay-per-view fights. Previous lineups included Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, Emanuel Steward, and Roy Jones Jr..
Among the fighters who have clashed with Merchant include Mike Tyson, Oscar de la Hoya and, more recently, Floyd Mayweather Jr. The De La Hoya incident came during his fight with Pernell Whitaker. When De la Hoya entered the ring to Mariachi music, Merchant stated that while he loved Mariachi music, he felt that it "stunk" in this particular situation. Merchant would later apologize on the air after De La Hoya tried to have him removed from HBO.
Merchant is well known for his post fight interviews which feature his hard-hitting, blunt questions and confrontational interview style. These have drawn both praise and ire in the past. Fans have claimed them to be candid and honest while detractors consider them to be purposely biased or agitating and insensitive at times. An example of this occurred when Vernon Forrest won a controversial decision in 2006 over Ike Quartey. When Forrest thanked those close to him, Merchant quipped, "Would you also like to thank the judges?"
In 1985, Merchant received the Sam Taub Award for Boxing Broadcast Journalism presented by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He is also the author of three books. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.
On January 23, 2009, HBO picked up Merchant's two-year option at the end of his 2007 contract. Merchant continued to alternate "World Championship Boxing" telecasts and HBO PPV cards with Kellerman.
In September 2011, following the controversial ending to the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Victor Ortiz, Mayweather angrily called for Merchant to be fired. After Merchant pressured Mayweather to respond to fans who thought that he had taken advantage of Ortiz's apology (resulting in his win by knockout), Mayweather grew irritated by Merchant's questioning and interrupted Merchant by saying "You never give me a fair shake...They can put somebody else up here to give me an interview. HBO need to fire you. You don't know shit about boxing. You ain't shit...All of these boxing experts—how can you be a boxing expert if you never had a fight before?"  Floyd Mayweather, Jr.'s outburst led to Merchant responding: "I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your ass."  Later Mayweather defended his outburst by saying that "Everybody is tired of Larry Merchant."  Merchant also engaged in a controversial exchange with Hall of Fame boxer Bernard Hopkins after his win over Morrade Hakkar on HBO, declaring that Hopkins was paid for doing little to no work. With his daughter in his arms, Hopkins replied, "Let me tell you something Larry, you get paid everyday on TV for not doing much."
Dana White drew allegories between MMA commentator staff and stated negative opinions on Merchant, Roy Jones has also echoed negative comments, who stated that Merchant's total lack of boxing experience negated his commentary.
During Merchant's interview immediately following the bout between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Miguel Cotto (May 5, 2012), Merchant acknowledged that Mayweather had apologized the night before the bout and he had accepted the apology.
It was announced by HBO on December 13, 2012, that Larry Merchant would retire from broadcasting after the December 15, 2012, telecast of HBO's World Championship Boxing from Houston, Texas after 35 years of being a boxing commentator on HBO.
Since leaving HBO Merchant has provided commentary for the international English language feed of some Top Rank promoted boxing shows.
- "More Merchant for boxing fans - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
- "Floyd Mayweather defends outburst at veteran broadcaster". BBC News Online. 18 September 2011.