By Michael Marley
Here's a sobering thought: what happens on May 5th, in the ring in Las Vegas, if HBO commentator Larry Merchant takes the mic and starts presenting questions to Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
The verbal friction between Merchant and Mayweather may provide some post-fight entertainment.
I spoke to Merchant and asked for his feelings about working Mayweather's Cinco de Mayo tango with Boricua Banger Miguel Cotto.
"As far as I know," Merchant said in measured tones, "the assignments have not been made yet by the network. But I'm a professional, it's a big event and of course I'd like to do it."
The former New York Post sports columnist said he bears no grudge over any negative comments directed at him by Mayweather. It comes with the territory, Merchant said.
"Over the years, I have had dustups with athletes. It happens from time to time but I always try to be as fair as I can be."
Mayweather had some other compelling comments and is really optimistic that, beyond the wealthy confines of Mayweather-Cotto and Tim Bradley-Manny Pacquiao, that the fight game is about to go on a tear.
Given Merchant's affection for slugfests, you would think he would be pumped about Brandon Bam Bam Rios fighting Yuriorkis Gamboa in April and he is.
"Fights and fighters are bubbling up," Merchants said. "Maybe it's an unintended consquence of Mayweather and Pacquiao not fighting (each other) but it's good for the sport.
"Rios-Gamboa, I love this fight. But I'm also excited about the Ortiz-Berto and Khan-Peterson rematches and the return to the ring of Erik Morales."
Speaking of the Floyd-Manny soap opera, Merchant opined that Mayweather will reap huge financial rewards from both the Cotto bout and a possible autumn bout against Mexican wunderkind Canelo Alvarez.
"Will Mayweather and Pacquiao fight now? I've been wrong on this for two years now so why would I be right on it now? Look at how well they are doing by not fighting each other and that is a disincentive for them to fight each other, I think," Merchant said.
"Apparently, Mayweather is trying to set up Canelo for a fall fight and he will do well on pay-per-view against both Cotto, a proven pay-per-view guy, and Canelo, who is a huge figure with a such strong Mexican-American fan base to draw on.
"This could make it even harder to make the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight at any time. But who really knows?"