Perhaps the most anticipated
undercard bout of the past weekend in Las Vegas wasn't the match-up between WBC
junior middleweight beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Shane Mosley but the
one pitting HBO's Larry Merchant against Floyd Mayweather - who faced Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand. The veteran
commentator and undefeated welterweight/junior middleweight titlist had a
memorable exchange in the immediate aftermath of Mayweather's match versus
Victor Ortiz last September (Press play on video embedded this page.)
There were rumors months ago
that HBO’s broadcast team would be muzzled regarding their commentary on
Mayweather but not unlike the last time Mayweather performed, Merchant was ringside
calling the action alongside Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward.
But there would be no
Merchant-Mayweather II, as the mercurial fighter- who promised not to speak to
Merchant beforehand- apologized to him on Friday. “It was after the weigh-in
and the weigh-in show that we did,” said Merchant on Monday afternoon.
The apology was unexpected.
“I was pleasantly surprised;
whatever his motives, that's for him to say and I accepted it,” he admitted.
Did Mayweather realize in the subsequent months since their verbal sparring
that he may have overreacted? “I really don't know and I just have to accept it
on its face. I thought it was a good gesture and we're putting the past behind
us and dealing with the night that was coming ahead of us. And I just accept it
for what it was.”
On Saturday night,
Mayweather would win a clear decision in what was an entertaining battle, one
that saw a more stationary boxer who was willing to engage. His nose was bloodied
in the process for his trouble. At age 35, there could be more of this to come
in the future from a guy who's pitched more no-hitters than Nolan Ryan.
Merchant liked what he saw, “Yeah,
and there are precedents for fighters who are highly skilled in their primes
and who, as they get a little older, if they were good enough, they were able
to keep going and without as much movement as before. For example, Juan Manuel
Marquez, that when he was a featherweight, he was primarily a reactor and a
mover and as he has gotten a little older, realized intellectually as he
watched other guys making a lot of money that he ought to bang a little bit,
along with the boxing, and then he evolved into more of boxer-banger than just
While Merchant interviewed
Mayweather in the ring after the fight, Cotto took off for his dressing room
and later ditched the post-fight press conference. However, HBO eventually did reach
him. Merchant told Maxboxing, “I did speak to him after the show was over and
the interview will be played on the replay Saturday night.”
Merchant surmised that part
of the reason Cotto shunned the media was that “We can assume it was that [Cotto
was disappointed]. I think it was kind of a long post-fight, the announcement [of
the decision] until I was able to interview Mayweather, until that was through
and, I don't know, I didn't count the minutes. We went back and waited for him
and he was showering and he got dressed - and I don't know how long it was,
maybe 20 minutes after the fight, maybe a little longer- and we did the
As for what Cotto stated,
Merchant recalls, “I think what he said was that he was happy with the effort
that he put out. He did not challenge the decision and I thought he fought a
good, hard fight. And I think when I look at [Sugar Ray] Leonard and [Thomas] Hearns
sitting at ringside, one guy won the two biggest fights of his life and the
other guy lost the two biggest fights of his life but who are always going to
be intertwined in the memory of fight fans, they both have respect. And I
think Cotto did himself a lot of good with this fight, that he is high quality,
that he's had an outstanding career and that he has life in him. And if he
takes some time off, I think we'll see him back and maybe in another big fight
There won’t be any more big
ones in the future for Mosley who, sadly, looked like a spent bullet against
Alvarez. This “Sugar” is no longer sweet.
“I look at it as the arc of
a career, the passage of time and that old champions generally find it hard to
walk away, not when they're beaten but when they're beaten up and in his
interview after the fight indicated very clearly, I thought that, ‘Well, now he
knows he's getting beaten up by the kids in the gym.’ And after all, he's got a
son a year younger than ‘Canelo,’” said Merchant, who long ago, was one of
Mosley's biggest advocates, even comparing him to the great Sugar Ray Robinson
before his HBO debut in 1997 against Philip Holiday.
But on this night, Mosley
may have realized his ring mortality.
“I think he was satisfied
that he was in the best condition he could possibly be in and here in the last
round of a great career, people were standing and cheering. That he went out
like Shane Mosley,” said Merchant, “I think he was satisfied that he did the
best he could and it wasn't good enough against a very good fighter.”
STYLES MAKE FIGHTS
I find it interesting that
some people are actually saying Mayweather fought in the manner he did and
engaged with Cotto for the edification of the public and his critics. Uh, yeah,
OK, where do I start? I mean, folks, this is Mayweather we're talking about.
He's made it very clear that he fights for the money and to protect his health
and safety (which, by the way, is perfectly justified).
First of all, that whole
insinuation is an insult to Cotto and his efforts because it was his execution
of his game plan and willingness to take risks that forced Mayweather into the
kind of contest that ensued. Let's get this very clear; boxers fight the way
they are allowed to and within their capabilities and limitations.
Seriously, don't you think
that if Arturo Gatti had the ability to slip, slide and evade punches like a
Pernell Whitaker, he would’ve have boxed like an Italian “Sweet Pea”? Do you
really think Muhammad Ali wanted to take all those punches along the ropes
during the second half of his career? If so, did he do it to entertain the
masses or did he actually lose the mobility that once made him float like a
butterfly? Even regarding Marquez, I have to disagree a bit with Merchant. I
don't really believe it was an intellectual decision that got him into more
back-and-forth battles but really an erosion of reflexes and quickness that has
necessitated the type of combat he's engaged in recently.
Yes, there are some fighters
who are exciting by nature, but some are made that way due to physical inevitabilities.
And sometimes, it’s all because of who they ultimately face.
But because it's a conscious
decision to please the fans? Yeah, I'm sure those who believe in the Easter
Bunny and still put teeth under their pillows in anticipation for the Tooth
Fairy to drop off a buck or two buy that one.