Mayweather-Pacquiao Without Larry Merchant, Is Like Michael Buffer Not Announcing


larry-merchant-face-530x332 Unlike the “hipster boxing world” that proclaims its love for “true fight fan’s fights” and publically denounces the idea of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao as a commercially saturated farce, I can and do freely admit I am excited about the May 2nd date and will be watching live on HBO/ShowTime PPV.

I’m semi-intrigued by the fight itself, but I’m just enthused by the fact that all eyes will be on boxing, at least for the night, as all commercial outlets gear their attention towards Mayweather-Pacquiao.

There is, however, one utterly disappointing factor regarding the event, and that is the idea of a major PPV being held without Larry Merchant. Merchant has become a staple in this era of “big fight events” and more importantly his post-fight interviews are sometimes the only highlight in a fleeting boxing promotion with significant monies invested and terrible matchmaking the problem.

Merchant’s candor and nerve made his interviews more than an added bonus, but rather an expected item line in the PPV price. It is the battle after the battle, and we view the interview with Merchant as the final showdown because we know Merchant is bringing his A-game, but will the fighter answer the tough questions?

Merchant has been officially retired for a couple years now, but he has done plenty of work in a more unofficial capacity. However, Merchant not being on the broadcasting team is more than a letdown. It is like big time boxing with Michael Buffer or a mega fight without the celebrities seated ringside.

What adds to the letdown is the final showdown we’d all like to see between Merchant and Mayweather Jr.

We all remember the Victor Ortiz post-fight interview. To paint a brief picture, Mayweather Jr. was receiving a deafening array of boos from an arena disappointed in the outcome of the fight. A cheap shot KO victory for Mayweather over Ortiz and he was desperately trying to find a way to justify himself without coming across embarrassed or guilty.

Merchant did what he does best, he asked Floyd the questions we all wanted answers to, that is what he is paid for, essentially. Floyd got paid to fight that night, but unlike the pound for pound champion, Merchant took no cheap shots and continued to prod an increasingly insecure Mayweather. Floyd then lashed out and began to verbally attack Merchant with baseless accusations.

What followed was one of the all-time greatest sound bites in boxing history as Merchant responded: “I wish I was 50 years younger, and I’d kick your ass!”
Larrry Merchant
Floyd took one more fight with HBO before signing an exclusive deal with ShowTime Sports. There were rumors that he’d refused to allow Merchant to interview him on that final HBO fight, but it proved to be posturing. Then, in Mayweather’s first “Behind the Scenes” style appearance on ShowTime, he bashed Merchant behind his back and took more cheap shots.

It would be a shame if the most significant fight in 3-4 decades didn’t have the most significant commentator working the event, at least in some capacity. It makes it more intriguing if we could anticipate Merchant interviewing Floyd, should he win, or even Pacquiao as the first man to dethrone Mayweather, either angle works.

As for Merchant’s prior misunderstandings with Floyd, he is fully aware of how his words have left an opening for speculation that he may be rooting for Pacquiao on fight night. Merchant is a pro first and foremost, and any bias he may or may not harbor for Floyd can be carefully finessed in a professional manner and would not affect his ability to do the job. I say this because it appears Merchant could be working at the MGM in Las Vegas on May 2nd, but in what capacity is still unknown.

When Merchant spoke with’s Nestor Gibbs, he was asked if it’s fair to assume his past confrontation has him rooting for Pacquiao, Merchant responded by saying, “It’s a fair question. Let’s see what happens as the fight approaches. I’ve already been in some discussions with people to cover the fight.”

Even if Merchant is too much of a professional to allow his personal feelings to seep into his ethical standing as a respected journalist, he did hint a bit at the battle between his heart and his mind as it relates to Mayweather-Pacquiao.

“If I’m going as a reporter/commentator/senior kibitzer I go with one mantra in my mind: ‘trust your eyes, whatever happens’ and it’s my head that matters. If I go as a fan then maybe it’ll be my heart that rules and maybe I’ll have a different idea. Right now, I’m just happy to be sitting on the sidelines watching the parade floats go by.”

Merchant is a pro, and it would be a culmination of both his and Mayweather’s career if they meet in the middle of the ring once the fight is over, regardless of the winner or loser. However, Merchant is a fan, and he once made a speech on HBO’s airwaves regarding our expectations of champions and how we enjoy them best. Regardless of his personal predisposition, it is clear that Mayweather is not his kind of champion.

That is the kind of champion that takes six years to sign on to fight the most blatantly obvious challenger there is for his world ranking. Then again, maybe this whole time Floyd was really dodging Merchant?