Next time you’re out drinking with the guys and the saloon talk turns to heavyweights, make a little toast to “Merciless” Ray Mercer, who put it all in writing Thursday.

By way of a letter dated May 27 and addressed “To whom it may concern,” Mercer informed the Florida State Athletic Commission and everyone else who was interested, “that I, Raymond Mercer, will retire from the sport of professional boxing effective immediately.”

It was the kind of news you like to hear from a 43-year-old fighter, even if he was – as promoter Cedric Kushner once called him – “One tough cookie.” In his letter, the One Tough Cookie went on to say that he was unable to “obtain lucrative opportunities in the division,” and that the “opponents chosen for me do not allow for a competitive risk-reward ratio. Boxing has been my life and a wonderful life it has been, but it does not make sense for me to continue.”

So-long, Ray. Smart move.

But what about your fight with DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, FL for the NABF heavyweight title? I called there Thursday afternoon after reading your letter and they were still expecting to see you on June 8. Maybe you should give them a call.

According to reports, Mercer’s friend and spokesman Vincent LaManna said the fighter was tired of the politics in boxing. But he would come back if the right situation presented itself. The opportunity to fight for the NABF title on ESPN2 seems like a pretty good situation, since Mercer first won the NABF title 14 years ago against tough-guy Bert Cooper.

Something must have happened to make Mercer quit this close to the fight. Politics is my guess. Or money.

In case you’re not familiar with Mercer, he had one of those chins you could use to hammer out dents. He went the distance against guys like Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis when they could still fight more than a little. In May, 1995, Holyfield put him down for the first time in his career. But he got back up and lost a 10-round decision.

And he could punch. After winning an Olympic gold medal in 1988, Mercer turned pro and won 18 in a row. He fought an undefeated Tommy Morrison in October, 1991 and just about ruined Tommy for life. Morrison got caught in a corner in the fifth round and Mercer landed one of those overhand rights that shatter careers and frighten women and children.

He wasn’t the slickest fighter or the smoothest or the quickest. He was just one of the toughest. His biggest problem was himself. He didn’t always show up ready to fight.

In his 39 fights (33-5-1, 25 KOs), Mercer was stopped only once. That was two years ago at the age of 41 when Wladimir Klitschko stopped him in the sixth. Since that night, he’s won his last three fights, all by knockout in the third round.

He fought his way back to another NABF title fight.

Maybe, maybe not.

Has anyone called DaVarryl?