Larry Merchant, a former sportswriter and longtime boxing commentator best known for his work on HBO, turned 85 on Feb. 11. On the occasion of his birthday, let’s recall the time Merchant stood up to Floyd Mayweather when the fighter tried to bully him during an interview.
It happened five years ago — when Merchant was 80 — in the ring after Mayweather had defeated Victor Ortiz. Mayweather had just knocked out Ortiz, nailing his opponent in the face while Ortiz had his gloves down, apparently not ready to fight after apologizing for a head butt and right after the two had touched gloves in the middle of the ring.
While the crowd booed, Merchant asked Mayweather about those blows. Mayweather didn’t like the line of questioning.
"I’m through. Put somebody else up here to give me an interview. … You never give me a fair shake," Mayweather said, as Merchant turned to the camera, wide-eyed. "HBO needs to fire you. You don’t know s— about boxing! You ain’t s—! You’re not s—!"
Merchant famously responded: "I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass."
Watch the exchange here (NSFW):
"I spontaneously counterpunched with the line heard ’round the world," Merchant said last year, speaking to his niece for an article in The Washington Post.
And lots of people let him know they appreciated what he did.
"A porter at Penn Station turned an up escalator into a down escalator," Merchant said. "And, the sincerest flattery, in a men’s room after a movie, a guy gave me his urinal with a gallant bow and went back on line."