Larry Merchant on Mayweather flap

Updated: September 20, 2011, 7:13 AM ET
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- HBO boxing announcer Larry Merchant said Monday that Floyd Mayweather's victory over Victor Ortiz on Saturday in Las Vegas was the result of a "legal sucker-punch."

Merchant, a guest on the Mason & Ireland Show on 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, became part of the story line Saturday because of a verbal confrontation with Mayweather during a live televised interview in the ring immediately after the fight.

Merchant was asked what he thought set off Mayweather.

"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."

During the brief post-fight interview, Mayweather called Merchant a name at one point and drew a pointed response from the 80-year-old broadcaster, who said he would thrash the boxer if he "was 50 years younger."

Asking about his own response, Merchant said he had no idea where it came from.

"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."

Merchant also said if he had a second chance at the interview, he wouldn't do anything differently.

"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."

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