Larry Merchant has been a staple in professional boxing for years. This HBO commentator and sports writer is often referred to as the “greatest boxing analyst of all time.” His credentials notwithstanding, Merchant has actually clashed with a number of fighters in the past, including greats like Mike Tyson and Oscar de la Hoya.
Oscar de la Hoya actually tried to have Merchant removed from HBO after the sports journalist said that Mariachi music, of which he is normally a fan, “stunk” since it was being used as de la Hoya’s ring entrance music. Merchant issued an apology on air shortly after the incident.
Now comes an even bigger incident concerning Merchant and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather had just defeated Victor Ortiz in a controversial finish, one involving a miscommunication with the referee that led to Ortiz taking a fall. Merchant, as is customary, questioned Mayweather about his victory, to which the athlete retorted, “You never give me a fair shake…They can put somebody else up here to give me an interview. HBO need to fire you. You don’t know sh** about boxing…”
Mayweather more than implied that Merchant has no idea what it’s like to be a fighter, a point to which Merchant bravely contested, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your a**!” Why all this trash talking in boxing? Mayweather and Merchant going at it in the pressroom was actually more exciting than the majority of boxing interviews, which mostly feature restrained comments of mutual respect. In any event, Merchant’s conduct (admittedly nothing new) prompted Mayweather to demand the commentator’s firing from HBO.
While plenty of people mirror Mayweather’s feelings that “Everybody is tired of Larry Merchant”, the fact is that Merchant is well known for his hard-hitting, concise and very often aggressive interviewing style. This is what the sport wants–or at least what it used to want in the 1980s and 1990s, when Merchant made a name for himself. Yes, Merchant divides fans for sure. The question is, has boxing outgrown Larry Merchant or is Mayweather taking criticism like a big boxing baby?
What do you think?