I’m not sure what happened, but apparently “respecting your elders” is a phrase lost upon today’s athletes. Professionals from every sport are guilty. Yes, that includes baseball, football and especially boxing and mixed martial arts.
Pedro Martinez throwing a 72-year-old Don Zimmer to the ground may be the most heinous example. Conor McGregor once despicably hurled a sucker punch at an old man for refusing whiskey. Yet sometimes these youngins find out not to mess with their elders, like when Robin Ventura mistakenly charged Nolan Ryan.
One of boxing’s all-time greats, Floyd Mayweather Jr., nearly suffered the same fate when he insulted a boxing legend 50 years older than he in a post-fight interview.
What Happened Before The Interview
Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz took on each other for the welterweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas back in 2011.
That fight ended in a knockout, but fans may remember what looked like a Mayweather cheap shot. Ortiz went to apologize for a headbutt in the middle of the fight. He even reached in for what looked to be a hug.
Ortiz, his arms by his side, didn’t look like he knew the fight had restarted. Mayweather then absolutely unloaded on him. Here’s how SB Nation’s Bad Left Hook explained it:
“Cortez stepped back to signal the action could re-start, but not forcefully. Cortez, whose last year as third man was 2012, looked to the timekeeper as he gestured for the welterweights to fight.
Floyd took advantage of Ortiz’ loss of focus, as Victor wasn’t clear on how to proceed thanks to Cortez being adrift; Ortiz was not sure if the round was over. Floyd ripped a left hook and right hand follow, and down went the underdog. He didn’t beat the count, and much chatter ensued for weeks afterward.”Advertisement
It sure didn’t look like a fair couple of punches. Boos rained down from boxing fans. Mayweather, who then felt like he was being insulted in the post-fight interview, let out his frustrations on Larry Merchant.
Merchant to Mayweather: “I’d Kick Your Ass”
Larry Merchant, the 80-year-old man who had been covering boxing for HBO’s pay-per-view telecasts since 1978 and dubbed “the greatest television boxing analyst of all time” by some, made his way to Mayweather after the fight.
Keep in mind, Merchant isn’t beloved by everyone. He’s squabbled with fighters like Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya in his career. But when a 30-year-old Floyd Mayweather insulted the HBO boxing broadcaster icon, he didn’t back down one bit.
I’m surprised he didn’t throw a punch.
Here’s how it went down:
Merchant: “You were in charge of the fight, you were aggressive, in training, in taking advantage of—”
Mayweather: “You know what I’m gonna do? You never give me a fair shake, you know that? So I’m gonna let you talk to Victor Ortiz, alright. I’m through, they can put somebody else up here to give me an interview.”
Merchant: “What are you talking about?”
Mayweather: “You never give me a fair shake.”
[at this point Merchant delivers an all-time surprised face]
Mayweather: “HBO need to fire you. You don’t know shit about boxing. You ain’t shit! You not shit!”Advertisement
Merchant: “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass!”
Mayweather: “You won’t do shit.”
Here’s the full video in all it’s glory:
Mayweather Later Apologized to Merchant
Merchant told ESPN that Mayweather apologized to him before he fought Miguel Cotto in 2012. He had no clue the undefeated boxer who’s defeated Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and Conor McGregor would admit to his faults.
“No, I didn’t see it coming,” Merchant said. “He’d said on 24/7 he wouldn’t stand for an interview but I thought at time, he has plenty time to change mind. I was surprised, at the end of the weigh in he offered an apology, in recognition of my ancient mariner status.”Advertisement
OK, but that still doesn’t answer the question: would Merchant actually fight Mayweather if he were 50 years younger?
Merchant went on ESPN’s First Take in 2012 and answered that when asked by Skip Bayless.
“I’d go after him. The only way I’d kick his ass is if I snuck up behind him,” Merchant said.
Hats off to Larry Merchant. He retired in 2012 as a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Thanks for giving us one of the greatest ringside moments in boxing history.