Floyd’s New BFF
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (May 8, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Floyd Mayweather and Larry Merchant
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 a boxer.”
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 interview there.”
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 or two.”
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.”
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.

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.
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