Jay Larkin, 59, a former television network executive and boxing advocate, died today after a long bout with brain cancer.
The native of Brooklyn was a driving force for Showtime boxing for more than two decades as the boss of that network?s programming. From Marvin Hagler-John Mugabi to the joint effort with rival HBO in telecasting Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson in 2002 and several years later, it was Larkin who called the shots.
A congenial executive he often spent time talking to boxing writers about the sport and his take on the direction it should head. When Larkin was let go in 2006 it was a shock to many.
During Larkin?s reign Showtime was a rival to HBO and often televised Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez and even Christy Martin. The televised event of Chavez?s fight against Greg Haugen who had claimed most of the Mexican fighter?s victories came against ?Mexican taxi drivers? drew over 130,000 fans in 1995. It?s still a record.
Larkin was always a very accessible executive.
One instance, when I called Larkin to get the lowdown on a title defense by then champion Verno Phillips, he told me he was having problems finding an opponent because the initial opponent was injured. I mentioned that I just saw Carlos ?El Elegante? Bojorquez training full tilt and added that he owned a win over Pernell Whitaker. That was all he needed. Immediately he hung up, thanked me for the info, and made the call that resulted in saving the title fight. I had my scoop and he had his fight and all that came as a result of being accessible.
After losing his position at Showtime, he re-emerged with the mixed martial arts organization International Fight League in 2007. It was during his stay with the MMA group that he first experienced signs of cancer and was forced to cancel several meetings.
The last time I spoke to Larkin we spoke about baseball, fighting in New York and MMA. He was a very knowledgeable and personable human being. Even rivals from HBO admired his efforts.
?Although Jay and I worked for different networks, we were truly colleagues,? stated Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports. ?His commitment to his family and to boxing was truly admirable. I considered him a friend and enjoyed the times we spent together. He will be dearly missed.?
Larkin leaves behind a wife and two sons. The funeral takes place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Beth David Cemetery 300 Elmont Road in Elmont, New York.