Larry Merchant Reacts To HBO's Decision To Leave Boxing

The industry is still shocked, after HBO announced on Thursday of their company decision to drop live boxing after more than 1,000 fights over four decades of telecasts.

The network will televise the Oct. 27 middleweight title fight between Danny Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, then bow out from a sport of which it has long been a leading proponent.

Showtime, HBO's main competitor for cable boxing telecasts, plans to enhances its schedule for 2019.


Since its first fight on Jan. 22, 1973 — a huge one in which George Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier for the heavyweight crown in Jamaica — HBO televised a symmetrical number of 1,111 bouts, some pay-per-view, the rest on the cable channel. That includes a high of 32 appearances by Oscar de la Hoya and Roy Jones Jr.

Other champions with regular appearances on the network have been Floyd Mayweather (27), Manny Pacquiao (24), Bernard Hopkins (23) and Mike Tyson (17).

The decision to leave boxing comes at a time it is thriving on other platforms. Fox Sports recently signed a deal to televise fights, while ESPN is broadcasting prime-time fights on its network and showcasing fights on its streaming app. The streaming app DAZN has ambitious plans for other fights.

Two weeks ago, HBO's two biggest names, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, became network free agents in the aftermath of their pay-per-view rematch at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Larry Merchant, who commented on boxing at HBO for 35 years, has this to say:

"Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ," Merchant stated.

Merchant was eventually replaced on their broadcasts by Max Kellerman.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Laszlo on 09-29-2018

[QUOTE=_original_;19148009]Merchant has always had the poetic quotables. Have Lamps and Max commented yet? I could see another network grabbing Roy but can't imagine Max or Lampley being on anywhere other than HBO.[/QUOTE] Roy was awful. He should fight again. :boxing:

Comment by NC Uppercut on 09-29-2018

[QUOTE=chirorickyp;19149112]he will cry. I gotta give it to him. He's passionate about the sport and he gives a damn. His call makes the fight exciting. I will miss him. I'd rather have him than Mauro and the bizarre references or…

Comment by Disturbed on 09-29-2018

I will miss HBO. They had great events, great production and fantastic promos, I absolutely loved 24-7 series. Also Legendary Nights were legendary. Boxing will go on, but still, its a bummer. Big fights just felt right when on HBO.…

Comment by Boxingfanatic75 on 09-29-2018

[QUOTE=////;19151342]Walking boxing encyclopedia? He would compare pretty much every fighter and every fight to Pernell Whiteaker. You could have Butterbean vs Kimbo Slice and Max would compare them to Pernell Whiteaker. I often wondered if it was just the only…

Comment by Clegg on 09-29-2018

[QUOTE=////;19151342]Walking boxing encyclopedia? He would compare pretty much every fighter and every fight to Pernell Whiteaker. You could have Butterbean vs Kimbo Slice and Max would compare them to Pernell Whiteaker. I often wondered if it was just the only…

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