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Merchant: Chavez-Margarito is Cruelty To Human Animals

By Chris Robinson

Veteran analyst Larry Merchant has been imbedded in the sport of boxing for several years now, having served as a color commentator for HBO's airwaves for over thirty years, but the Brooklyn, New York native will be the first person to tell you that he still gets a kick whenever he finds himself ringside for a prizefight.

This past weekend Merchant found himself at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas for the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio/Nonito Donaire-Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. doubleheader in front of a packed crowd of over 14,000 partisans.

Donaire would overcome a spirited effort by Vazquez as he captured the vacant WBO junior featherweight championship. Donaire rocked Vazquez on various occasions, even dropping him in the ninth round, but it was later revealed that he had injured his left hand in the fight, perhaps part of the reason for a performance that was overall very solid but perhaps not as spectacular as some may have expected.
 
Chavez would successfully defend his WBC middleweight crown in a dogfight with Rubio, proving himself to be a little busier and stronger on the inside in the second defense of his title. 25 years old and still a work in progress, the question many wonder is when, if at all, Chavez will face off with the man recognized as the best middleweight in the world, Argentina’s Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez.
 
Catching up with Merchant for our weekly column, he discussed the impression he was left with from the performances of Donaire and Chavez Jr., spoke about each man’s future, and revealed why he never gets tired of the job he loves so much.
 
This is what Larry had to share…

Getting into San Antonio…
“I got into San Antonio as I normally do when I have a fight. I get in either early afternoon or late evening. I settle in, I may have dinner with friends, I may have work to do. Friday I have a lot of production meetings, fighter meetings. Then maybe I would do something social. I’ve been in San Antonio many times. I went to the Riverwalk, went to the weigh-in. Very often when I’m on the road I go to museums, try to get a feeling of what’s going on in the town or the city or what the buzz is or isn’t. I often do those things during the day on Saturday, because I don’t have to start getting ready or showing up for work usually until late afternoons, unless I’m on the west coast where we do the shows earlier. On Sunday I got on an early-afternoon flight and got back to L.A. in time to watch the Super Bowl.”

Taking in the buzz during fight week…
“I felt some buzz at the weigh-in. It confirms my feeling of what I would call the general shift of the center of gravity of boxing towards Mexican and Mexican-Americans towards the Southwest in Nevada and California. It resulted in a very nice crowd showing up for the fight and showing up early also. Not just for the main event. It demonstrated that they were really into a night of fights. They had a young star in Chavez that they wanted to follow. All of that was cool.”

Getting through the undercard…
“There was one four-rounder that was something of an upset. We’re often working during the undercard, doing various rehearsal and equipment checks, so I don’t always get a chance to watch. I saw this junior middleweight and if there’s anybody of any worth on the undercard it’s generally going to be some kind of, what I call a ‘resume fight’, not a serious fight. A highly-touted Oklahoma kid that I heard about when I was down there, from Oklahoma City, a welterweight in his second pro fight who had a knockout, I think his name was Saucedo. We often don’t get to see the whole picture before the fight because we’re working.”

Donaire’s performance against Vazquez…
“I thought it was a good fight. I thought Vazquez fought him hard and smart, he just wasn’t good enough. Donaire fought a good fight, won the fight clearly, but given all the hope and hype he was the subject of, as a possible cross-over star, I don’t think he knocked anybody out.”

Elaborating on his feelings towards Donaire…
“Look, we want to see him fight. He fights good fights, entertaining fights. We want to see how far he can go. I like him. I’m not putting him down, I’m just saying, everything can’t be based on his one-punch knockout of Montiel. If they’re going to promote him with the expectations that they are building up of this amazing fighter who is going to go up in weight and blast everybody and so on, that’s part of the way you view a fighter. But he fought a good fight, against a guy who was a bigger guy than he had fought before, and was called upon to do more and win more than just his power.”

The left hand injury Donaire suffered…
“Hurting hands is a part of the game, particularly for a puncher. But he found himself punching a bigger guy. I don’t know how that played into the injury he suffered. Bigger guys have bigger heads and bigger necks. We’ll see down the road. If he broke something in there, then he’s not going to come back as fast as his handlers hope.”

Chavez Jr. overcoming the elements…
“There was a number of observers who felt it was a tough fight coming in because of all the weight issues that the kid has had. And then, finding out before the fight that he had a DUI a couple weeks ago. Putting on close to twenty-two pounds in weight close to thirty hours between the weigh-in and the fight. It all raises flags. But sometimes, as I said, youth outruns its mistakes and he was able to rehydrate and come in about the biggest middleweight I ever saw.at 181. He fought a real fighter, maybe the best fighter he’s fought, and he fought an entertaining fight and overcame whatever he had to overcome to do it.”

Rumors of Chavez Jr. facing either Ireland's Andy Lee or former champion Antonio Margarito next…
“I love the Lee fight, I hate the Margarito fight. I think that Lee is a live fighter who can punch and I think it’s a legitimate fight for Chavez. I think Margarito has had three bad beatings in a row and the idea of putting him in with a guy who comes in fighting as a cruiserweight, I think it’s cruelty to human animals, I’ll put it that way.”

Chavez Jr. able to call the shots in regards to a possible fight with Sergio Martinez…
“Look, he’s recognized as the middleweight champion, as the best middleweight in the world. He’s a hell of a good fighter but he has no fan base and Chavez is developing a big fan base and he can call the shots. He himself said he wants to fight Martinez and maybe by the end of the year he will or a year from now, I don’t know. But I don’t feel fight fans clamoring for that fight. It’s not like Pacquiao-Mayweather. It’s Martinez clamoring for the fight, which is perfectly understandable. But it’s not like the fight world thinks it’s a fight that has to be made immediately.”

Why Chavez-Martinez may happen in time…
“Chavez, after all, is only ranked fourth, fifth, sixth, in the middleweight division. It’s not like he’s the top guy out there. It’s a fight that may, if he goes out there and beats an Andy Lee and Martinez takes care of his business, then it will happen in its time. Although I must say, it could be a hard fight to negotiate, because Martinez understandably wants to get the biggest money fight he can make. But he’s not in a strong position to negotiate more money by fighting the guy who brings in the money.”

Being ringside and covering the sport…
“I love it every time. That’s all I can tell you. Every one is different in its own way. You just think of all the storylines before this fight, of two kids’ fathers who were champions and one of them is becoming a star while he’s a work in progress and has issues with making weight and other issues we don’t know about. And a challenger in Rubio who graduated nursing school. A big, passionate crowd showing up in San Antonio. If you’re a boxing degenerate like me, why wouldn’t you love all of that?”

Nonito Donaire-Wilfredo Vazquez BONUS SLIDESHOWS
 
Donaire drops and defeats Vazquez, Chavez Jr. overcomes Rubio - Candid shots from ringside of Donaire and Chavez's victories plus bonus shots of Shane Mosley, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., and others
 
Massive Chavez Jr.-Rubio / Donaire-Vazquez Weigh-in Gallery - A closer look at all four HBO stars weighing in, behind the scenes shots and cameos by Freddie Roach, Bob Arum, Larry Merchant, and several others
 
Tensions arise at final Donaire-Vazquez presser - See images of Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez going face to face plus bonus shots of Freddie Roach, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Bob Arum, Marco Antonio Rubio and others

Chris Robinson can be reached at [email protected] 

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Dat on 02-07-2012

[QUOTE=Slyboots;11756794]Cruelty to human animals, that's a great line. :lol1:[/QUOTE] Yeah great line indeed ha ha ha. Perhaps he was thinking of saying "cruelty to criminals" but then he changed his mind to "cruelty to human animals" LOL. In any case,…

Comment by GRUSTLER on 02-07-2012

[QUOTE=Ringlife;11758281]I would like to see Chavez Jr face Lee next not Margarito, Bob Arum is going to try to sell Chavez Jr vs Margarito on PPV for a low scum bag price of 54.99. I would rather watch Lee vs…

Comment by Ringlife on 02-07-2012

I would like to see Chavez Jr face Lee next not Margarito, Bob Arum is going to try to sell Chavez Jr vs Margarito on PPV for a low scum bag price of 54.99. I would rather watch Lee vs…

Comment by anonymous2.0 on 02-07-2012

[QUOTE=Sanlucas77;11758104]Larry Merchant has no class. For anyone to refer to another human being as an "animal" is very arrogant and unintelligent. Sorry Larry, but if you can't find the descriptive words necessary to make your comparison it may be a…

Comment by Sanlucas77 on 02-07-2012

Larry Merchant has no class. For anyone to refer to another human being as an "animal" is very arrogant and unintelligent. Sorry Larry, but if you can't find the descriptive words necessary to make your comparison it may be a…

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