Full disclosure: I'm a fan of Larry Merchant's work. I enjoy his insights, appreciate that he is a fan and chronicler of the sweet science and am happy that HBO has the stones to keep using an 81-year-man, this in an industry which rewards youth and punishes wisdom in a backdoor manner with its penchant for ageism.
I was, I again must admit, more than a bit excited to see what would go down after this Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, after I saw Mayweather promise on 24/7 that he would bolt to the dressing room after the fight, rather than be queried by Merchant. Those two had jousted after Mayweather's September 2011 fight with Victor Ortiz, with Floyd losing it and telling Larry his knowledge was nil, and opining to the world that the analyst should be relieved of his duties.
I chatted with Merchant on Monday, and asked him about what went down after Mayweather earned a unanimous decision in a stern test against Cotto. He said he was surprised that Mayweather had approached him the day before, at the weigh-in and offered something unexpected: an apology.
"No, I didn't see it coming," said Merchant, soaking up some Santa Monica sun, putting down his copy of Philip Roth's 2010 novel, Nemesis. "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 recogntion of my ancient mariner status," the veteran mariner said with a chuckle.
So, does he do this stuff to keep us on our toes, purely, or does he simply act according to how he's reacting?
"Floyd has a keen sense of drama outside of the ring, of promotion, and has done a remarkable job actually with his status in the game. I think a lot of it is somewhat calculated, some comes very naturally to him. Whatever his motive was, he did it and I accepted."