One of the most spirited exchanges during Saturday’s mega boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz may not have been between the two fighters.
That belonged to the post-fight sparring match between HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant and Mayweather. At some point during the interview Mayweather became annoyed at Merchant’s line of question and let Merchant know as only he could before walking off.
The 80-year-old Merchant then took it over the top by yelling at Mayweather that “if I were fifty years younger I would kick your (expletive).”
Merchant explained his actions on the Mason and Ireland Show on 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles on Monday.
"It was spontaneous combustion," he said. "You're getting personally insulted as well as professionally insulted, and I was just trying my best to ask the questions that everybody wanted answered. And suddenly he assaults me that way, and I just, you know, went off."
"... I did say afterward that I don't think I could've kicked his butt 50 years ago, but I sure would've tried."
While HBO should perhaps be concerned, Merchant was unapologetic for his unprofessional actions Saturday night.
"I have not second-guessed myself," he said. "I don't think that what I did was a sucker-punch. Put it (this) way: It was a counter-punch."
What Merchant was trying to ask is why Mayweather chose to end the fight the way that he did, with a legal sucker punch to Ortiz during what should have been a break in the fourth round. Ortiz, of course went down, and the fight was over on a knockout.
The fans in Las Vegas didn’t appreciate the ending and let the controversial champion know it with constant boos afterward. So Mayweather was already peeved when he stepped up to do the interview with Merchant.
"I'm in a long line of media people that he feels have not given him as much credit as he gives himself," Merchant said. "The fans saw what they saw: A sucker-punch ending a fight. Now, was Mayweather within his rights to throw it? Absolutely. Should he have? In my opinion, no. It was a legal blow, but that's not the way great champions do it. And the kid, Ortiz, has blame on him as well.
"But now I'm interviewing Mayweather, and I think he's absorbing the boos in the crowd, which are getting more explosive, more inflammatory, and he understands he's not going to get all the credit he deserves again. And that's what I think set him off, in my opinion."
(Photo: AP /Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)