Brooklyn-born Larry Merchant has been analyzing fights for many a moon and I’ve talked to him for a good deal of moon cycles…but he’s always interesting to talk to, pulls no punches, and, in fact, I learned a factoid about him that I think qualifies as amazing.
“I’ve never had peanut butter in my life,” he told me, after I told him thanks for calling back, I’m free, I’d just finished making my girls peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunch the next day. “I’m a cream cheese and jelly guy growing up. Also, in the Army they had these industrial sized jars of peanut butter and they looked like they were filled with waste!”
We then chatted about a movie we’re both in, him on camera, and me, hopefully, if I don’t get snipped, doing a voiceover. Boxing movie, “Back in the Day,” it’s called, should be out in a few months…
But on to bigger picture items. Like Mayweather.
Floyd was busy talking last week, to Fight Hype.
I touched on that…Floyd saying he thinks the sports’ power brokers are keen to have a Caucasian leading the pack? Thoughts on that contention?
“I understand some people have justified paranoia…but sometimes it’s just paranoia,” the ex HBO talent said. “If anything in the boxing busines, the way it is today, the guy they want to see climb the ladder to the top is a Canelo. The center of gravity among fans is Mexican-Americans, Latinos, etc.”
So, short story long, Merchant, who has, yes, a history with Floyd, thinks “Money” is off base in that arena of thought.
So, he continued, the Madison Square Garden got filled when Gennady Golovkin last fought. Because he’s light skinned? “Because of how he fights,” Merchant said. He thought the PPV numbers for 3G were sort of “feeble,” but anyway, he believes Floyd is a little salty over the GGG push because the fans have responded in a short order to the Kazahk. “He’s a real professional prizefighter, and he’s climbing despite the fact that he comes from Kazahkstan. I mean, it was a longer shot than Manny coming from the Philippines. The reason Manny became popular and a hero is because of how he fought! GGG is getting so much attention because he’s a throwback fighter, he excites people in the ring, not outside the ring, where Mayweather is so gifted. He marketed himself as an extreme anti-hero, in the hip hold mold, a mogul kind of guy…and he made it work.”
Yes, Floyd’s popularity is curious and compelling and up for continuing dissection. Merchant thinks many Mayweather peers and colleagues are “embarassed” by how he’s carried himself at times, with the sometimes sophomoric bragging. Yep, Floyd is, he thinks, expertly playing a race card when he says that the industry heads would prefer a Caucasian driver…
Merchant reminds us that over the ages, the heavyweight champ is often a black man, and that has served the sport quite well over time.
Bottom line, the industry would love an African-American Golovkin type, he thinks, it’s the fighting style that is the most embraceable trait to those choosing to hype this fighter or that.
“This is Mayweathers’ brilliance in poking at anything that pops up, that suggests there is somebody out there being held in high regard,” Merchant said. “It’s a transparent Mayweatherism, to keep his name out there. He knows how to touch the nerve of the media…maybe consciously or not, who knows, maybe it’s a build up for the comeback!”