Ray Mercer's foe on Sept. 5 in Sweden is known, in press packets anyway, as “the Dutch Sonny Liston.” In other circles, he's known as a reasonably competent heavyweight boxer who has drowned every time he's
left the shallow end without his arm swimmies on.
But Richel Hersisia, his handlers figured, could perhaps be positioned in this heavyweight landscape, which is only a bit less bleak than the job prospects of those cast adrift by Wall Street's greed-fueled
meltdown, for a title shot. A win against Ray Mercer in 2008, they knew, wouldn't mean as much as a win against Ray Mercer in 1991, or 1995, but still. Having the Mercer scalp on the wall would say
something. But in the ring, Mercer (36-7-1, 26 KOs) said something else.
He popped the jab, he went to the body, he did a bit more than hang around. And after six rounds, six hard rounds, because at 47, fighting for three minutes against even a mediocre guy 13 years younger than
you will leave you gasping for air, he had his hand raised over Ducth Sonny (30-2). That's saying something, in itself.
The 1988 Olympic gold medalist, a sergeant in the US Army who turned pro at age 27 in 1989, won the vacated WBO heavyweight title over Francesco Damiani via KO9 in a fight he was trailing badly in January
1991. He then smashed cocky Caucasian sensation Tommy Morrison to smithereens in the fifth round of his first defense in October 1991. After that, he started to slide. He took ancient but crafty Larry
Holmes too lightly in Feb. 1992, losing a UD12 to the 43-year-old. He has not won a fight of great import since then.
The last time many of you saw Ray Mercer, he was getting whupped by Wladimir Klitschko something like those wolves some Alaskans like to shoot from the air. He threw a pathetic 20 punches a round, and
basically, it looked like he came to pick up a paycheck, one final payday, before disappearing for some quality fishing time at his favorite ponds in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “I was not in the best
shape,” Mercer explains to TSS about the Klitschko showing. “I didn't know who I was fighting, I didn't lift weights. I didn't think he'd be that strong.”
Whispers slipped out onto the grapevine that Mercer has been boozing too much prior to the bout, but Ray says that was started by a disenchanted former handler. “Nobody saw me in any clubs or bars,” he
Fishing is his only vice now; when wife Kimberly looks around for Ray, because the garbage needs taking out, he's instead usually catching fish and tossing them back into the pond at Kings Grant Golf Course in
On the topic of fish, Mercer would like to land one more biggie, and has no intention of letting him off the line if given the chance. Mercer, who turned 47 in April, wants a crack at ex cruiserweight
champ David Haye (21-1, 20 KOS), who has squawked that heavies are avoiding him, fearing his power. Mercer says he doesn't fear Haye, and would sign on the dotted line against the 27-year old Londoner faster
than you can say “John McCain's campaign staff is lousy with lobbyists.”
“Haye is talking noise, saying nobody wants to fight him,” Mercer says. “I'm gonna be like Foreman. I'm better than him when he came back.”
And why exactly is Mercer back? It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that he has nine children, would it?
“I'm back for fun, and money,” he says. “I'm not completely broke, I can quit boxing if I want to.”
Now, I admit I'm sneaky. Mercer is articulate on the phone, not slurry like a few other guys who are still passing Catscans and MRIs these days. But I did my own diagnostic test, I asked him how old all his
kids are. He didn't hesitate. He gave ages for all of them, quickly. “They are demanding,” he admits of the crew, 9 to 22. “They need things.”
JD Chapman had the gig versus Haye, but pulled out. Monte Barrett and Larry Donald have been mentioned for the Nov. 15 gig in London. Does Mercer think he'll land the assignment?
“I'm hoping,” he says. “I'm back in the gym after I fight, take two days off, that's it. Haye would think he's supposed to win over me. It will be easy money for him, he'd think. I've got that jab, people
don't realize how strong it is. A win over me would look good on his record. I hope he's not afraid.”
Mercer assures his fans that his faculties are intact, and his skull isn't there solely to house scrambled gray matter. “My medicals are perfect,” he says. “They take my blood pressure, say it's the best
they've seen. I weighed 251 for Hersisia, for Haye I'll be 235 pounds.”
I'm supposed to get a tape of the Mercer/Hersisia fight, but it's stuck in the mail, so I will defer to the word of Mercer, who insists he has enough left to take Haye down, in the same manner Holmes
Mercer is so confident, and so eager to hook Haye on his line, he's provided contact info for his manager, Matt Howard.
Team Haye, call Howard at 609-226-6951 if you're still in need of an opponent for your guy.