Behind the Mic: HBO Boxing’s Larry Merchant Calls It a Career; Kruk Joins ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Crew

Compiled by Jason Dachman, Managing Editor, SVG

HBO Boxing stalwart Larry Merchant retired this week after a 35-year run as one of the preeminent boxing analysts on television. Merchant, 81, worked his last fight on Saturday night during a “World Championship Boxing” card in Houston, TX. Merchant’s contract was set to expire soon. “Both sides decided it was as good a time as any to do this,” one boxing source said. “They will part company on good terms.” In addition, Merchant is expected to return to HBO’s boxing coverage periodically in a “Tom Brokaw-like senior kibbitzer on major news and events in boxing.”…

…ESPN will add John Kruk to the Sunday Night Baseball booth in 2013, replacing Terry Francona who exited the SNB stage after just one year to become the manager of the Cleveland Indians. Kruk, who has served as a Baseball Tonight studio analyst since joining ESPN in 2004, will team up Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser to form the new Sunday Night booth. The trio is also joined by reporter Buster Olney…

…Less than a year after cohort Michelle Beadle left for NBC, ESPN is pulling Colin Cowherd off of SportsNation, its weekday audience-participation-focused afternoon show. Cowherd will be replaced by former All-Pro defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who has served a variety of on-air roles for ESPN since joining the network in 2007. Wiley joins Charissa Thompson, who replaced Beadle in June. The show will relocate from ESPN’s Bristol campus to a new set at the company’s Los Angeles studio at the end of December, while Cowherd who will remain in Bristol to focus on his nationally syndicated radio show.

…beIN SPORT has signed soccer TV star Kay Murray to its on-air talent team. For the past six years Murray served as the senior presenter for Real Madrid TV, covering the Spanish squad in both English and Spanish versions of the channel. Murray hosted the channel’s most popular show, Extra Time, as well as the Real series where she regularly interviewed the club’s manager and top players. In addition, Kay served as the “pitchside” reporter for Real Madrid on all match days, both home and away, as well as during pre-season tours of the U.S. Murray will initially join beIN SPORT’s The Express, a pre- and post-game show that provides up-to-date news and analysis on the biggest live soccer matches of the day.