After 35 years, HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant is ending his time with the company that has become the sport's biggest American outlet, and will call his final fight ringside for HBO, as Nonito Donaire faces Jorge Arce in Houston.
But Merchant says that he's not exactly looking to retire, and will seek other outlets and opportunities from here:
"I'm not the retiring kind," Merchant said. "I look forward to my next act. I've had a few discussions with people. It could be in writing. It could be in television. It could be in the new media space. I'm going to see what develops and see what I feel I should do."
Merchant, 81, has had a memorable career, which has drawn both great praise and plenty of ire from fans and his media peers. At times, Merchant could be the exact voice you wanted, someone willing to call a situation what it is, which can be rare in the boxing industry. Other times, though, Merchant would seem to be stirring the pot just for the hell of it.
Perhaps his most famous moment in the end was really a product of neither, though, as he and Floyd Mayweather got into a near-physical altercation in 2011, after Mayweather's controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz. As Merchant questioned the "sucker-punch" and Mayweather's reasoning for it, for once he didn't seem to be trying to do much more than ask the question. Mayweather turned aggressive, Merchant reacted, and we all got the classic response from an 80-year-old man to the world's best prizefighter, "I wish i was 50 years younger and I'd kick your ass!"
Maybe it wasn't professional. Maybe it wasn't "classy." But it was something.
Mayweather and Merchant later made nice after Floyd's win over Miguel Cotto this year, with a perfectly cordial post-fight interview.
Merchant's chair will be filled, as has been expected for years, by Max Kellerman. HBO is looking to get younger, and Kellerman is as good a choice as any to be that consistent No. 2 man alongside Jim Lampley.