By Chris Robinson
This past weekend in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in the spotlight again for various reasons. The first and most notable being his shocking knockout over Victor Ortiz but the 34-year old superstar could also be found afterwards exchanging some heated words with HBO color analyst Larry Merchant.
Inside of the MGM Grand’s Garden Arena, Mayweather, after a break from referee Joe Cortez, would hit Ortiz with a quick left hook that many have deemed to be a ‘cheap shot’ and followed it up with a right hand that left his opponent on the canvas until he was counted out. Not the victory anyone saw coming but certainly the type of ending that has left people buzzing.
Watching the Mayweather-Ortiz fiasco unfold from ringside, Merchant felt that he was watching a typical fight from Floyd.
“Mayweather was in charge of the fight,” said Merchant. “He was very confident, obviously, going in of what he was going throw, particularly with the right hand. And Ortiz took most of them very well and then he was coming on a little bit at the end I thought. Trying to roughhouse on the ropes and impose his size. And that’s when things jumped the shark.”
While it’s true that Mayweather was pot-shotting Ortiz, the younger fighter did have some moments of success when he rushed Floyd and Merchant wasn’t 100% sure how the fight would have played out had the fourth round not ended so disastrously.
“Well, I think that Mayweather was already picking him apart. Whether Ortiz could have imposed his size and strength later in the fight, we really don’t know. People will say that his plan was to come on but we don’t know. Chances are Mayweather would have dealt with anything and what happened, happened. Mayweather hit him with a legal sucker punch,” Merchant quipped.
Merchant had the duty of interviewing Mayweather in the ring following the contest but he irked the newly-crowned champion by suggesting that his actions were unfair. Mayweather would tell Merchant that he never gives him ‘a fair shake’ while Merchant returned fire by saying he would have kicked Floyd's a** had he been fifty years younger.
So, did the unexpected back and forthing rattle the veteran announcer?
“I’ve been doing it a long, long time and I’ve heard a lot,” said Merchant. “My general attitude is, when a fighter gets out of line, people can see what they see and make their own judgments. But in this occasion there was some spontaneous combustion. And it led to where it led.”
Love him or hate him, Merchant always had a knack for calling things as he seems them and he insists that because Mayweather is often under the world’s microscope that he gets a different kind of treatment.
“That’s my job. I sort of think, if you watch that telecast, we gave Mayweather all the props in the world and gave him credit and so on and so forth. He’s in the public’s eye and to me you don’t judge an expensive restaurant like a hot dog stand. You judge them by different standards. He thinks that’s unfair and that’s what reporters and subjects have always dealt with.”