By Michael Marley
During a recent interview, I asked HBO boxing sage Larry Merchant about pending fistic events, including the Sept. 17 Vicious Victor Ortiz-Floyd Mayweather Jr. show (HBO, probably from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend) and the Nov. 12 ‘’Chapter 3” event at the same location between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao.
Merchant is keen on both of the big PPV shows but for different reasons.
“For Mayweather, who’s been fighting Marquez, (Shane) Mosley and (Ricky) Hatton, well now he’s fighting a guy 10 years younger than him, a guy coming off a big win while Floyd is coming off a big vacation,” Merchant said.
“There’s a certain kind of unknown factor in this equation. I like Mayweather-Ortiz and, if what Golden Boy is saying is true about having Canelo Alvarez and Erik Morales included, then it’s a huge event, particularly for the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
“I think it will outdo Pacquiao-Marquez in terms of the PPV numbers. I think you’ll see a huge HBO 24/7 buildup and that will be significant for Ortiz because he’s a fresh face and a vivid contrast in personality to Mayweather. He’s well spoken also.”
As for the third bout between Pacman and counterpuncher Juan Ma, Merchant certainly doesn’t begrudge the Mexican veteran the big payday.
“This is the first Manny opponent in some time who can say he’s fought him on even terms before. And I think it’s fair to say Juan Ma has earned this one. Question is, can he still fight as well being so much older and in a bigger division?”
As to more immediate ring business, Merchant thinks the inactivity of Timothy Bradley, in a promotional dispute with tracksuit and lawsuit loving Big Gary Shaw leaves Kevin Cunningham’s St. Louis fighter with room to make up “yardage” lost to Bradley when they fought on HBO in January.
“Since you said yardage, I will say that the field is wide open now with Bradley out. Bradley beat Devon but Bradley is off the field,” Merchant said. “If Alexander goes out there and beats Matthysse more convincingly than Zab Judah did, then Alexander and Khan might the guys standing out in this division.
“Devon’s got a real opportunity here with Bradley on the sidelines.”