Larry Merchant: I think Wilder’s performance can really give that experiment a boost on national television


Nonito Donaire v Jorge Arce




The Super Bowl is a week from Sunday and as a disappointed Dallas Cowboys fan I’m more interested in the highly anticipated commercials that will be shown on that night than picking between Seattle and New England (I’m picking New England). Part of my interest is based on the sour taste of the Green Bay loss, but most of my curiosity revolves around the boxing ads that could potentially surface.

A boxing spot is expected now that Al Haymon’s NBC deal is announced and the first card is scheduled for primetime on NBC’s national station.

The hope is high that this Haymon deal with NBC will act as a catalyst for bringing boxing back to the national spotlight and recapture some of that mainstream intrigue that the sport garnered when it was regularly on network TV decades ago.

Larry Merchant is officially retired from his HBO post, but the legendary commentator is well aware of the impact network TV could have on the sport of boxing and he is also been around long enough to recall those glory days, before premiere networks took interest in boxing.

Merchant knows that the content is just as important as the exposure and he remembers the heavyweight division being a key component to boxing’s prominence. There is more than just a correlation between network TV interest and a thriving heavyweight class, and Merchant suggests a reinvigorated heavyweight division is the indicator of boxing’s success on network TV.

On that rationality, Merchant views Deontay Wilder as a potential champion for reviving the general population’s curiosity in boxing.

“It could be a big deal for prizefighting to be exposed on primetime television,” Merchant told “I think that Wilder’s performance last weekend against Stiverne could really give that experiment a boost if he should get on national television once or twice and be able to build a fan base to try to become a well-known heavyweight champion, which the American public has always been open to whether they cared about prizefighting or not”