While it remains unlikely that the fists of highly decorated 80-year-old HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant pack much of a wallop these days, there is little doubt that he pulls no punches when it comes to conducting post-fight interviews.
Moments after Floyd Mayweather Jr. scored his controversial victory over Victor Ortiz , Merchant was standing in the ring asking the victor about a knockout blow that many perceived as a 'sucker punch.'
To put it mildly, Mayweather did not appreciate the hard-hitting questions. He launched into an expletive-laden tirade and called for HBO to fire the veteran commentator. Merchant didn't cede an inch to Mayweather, replying “I wish I was 50 years younger. I would have kicked your ass.”
On Tuesday morning, Merchant appeared on ESPN Radio Los Angeles to speak about both the Mayweather-Ortiz bout and the Mayweather-Merchant fight. Although he amended his comments somewhat, Merchant didn't back off them.
"I was just trying my best to ask the questions that everybody wanted answered and suddenly he assaults me that way and I just went off and was amazed by myself afterwards," Merchant told ESPN LA. "But I did say afterwards that I don’t think I would’ve kicked his butt 50 years ago, but I sure would have tried.”
Merchant acknowledged Mayweather's knockout was technically legal, but added that "it’s not the way great champions do it."
Not surprisingly, Mayweather wasn't issuing any apologies either.
"Everybody is tired of Larry Merchant," Mayweather told the BBC. "All of these boxing experts -- how can you be a boxing expert if you never had a fight before?"
When asked who would win the long-anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather, Merchant sided with his verbal sparring partner. "I think [he] would be the favorite because he’s a wizard of defense," Merchant said. "And a defensive wizard is hard to beat because he’s taking fewer risks and leaves fewer openings for opponents to fill."
Merchant transcript via SportsRadioInterviews.com