Larry Merchant Interview: On Mosley vs Mora, Pacquiao, Mayweather, De la Hoya, Saul Alvarez, Ortiz vs Harris and Much More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Sept 17, 2010)
HBO will be televising this Saturday's boxing events from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The main event will feature Sugar Shane Mosley vs. Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora. Hall of Famer Larry Merchant will be the expert commentator for this event and has agreed to dissect the main event as well as the exciting undercard.
David Tyler - Larry, why is this event being shown on HBO Pay Per View?
Larry Merchant - I would guess that the main reason is that the network was not able to pay the kind of money that it would take to put the show on regular HBO.
DT - I ask the question because the fans are used to having a mega fight on HBO PPV.....
LM - At one time a mega fight meant that there were more people that wanted to watch the fight than could fit into an arena...now we still have mega fights, Mayweather and Mosley was a big fight and the two Pacquiao fights were big events or mega fights as you say because of the popularity of Mayweather and Pacquiao. This Saturday's fight card does not feature Mayweather or Pacquiao but a number of other fights that that will take the kind of money from a PPV audience to give us this show.
DT - It would appear on this fight card that the main attraction will be Shane Mosley?
LM - Actually it's not just Mosley. Mosley is the fighter that is probably the most recognizable, he has been one of the top fighters over the last two decades. I feel that a lot of the fans who buy the fight are looking for the next Oscar De La Hoya and look forward to watching some of the top Mexican American fighters. I don't believe that Mosley himself was ever the main attraction of a PPV event. He fought De La Hoya , Mayweather, Vargas he was not the guy who drove the box office.
DT - I understand but I also believe that he picked up some fans during the second round of his fight with Floyd Mayweather....
LM - Nobody can put down Shane Mosley, he has always looked to fight the top fighters and very few fighters do that today. It says a lot in the fact that he is taking on Mora who physically and style wise, presents a serious challenge for him so soon after the Mayweather fight.
DT - Now Shane is giving Mora a chance to play a role in the future of the Junior Middleweight Division.
LM - I don't know that Mora is the future of the division. I don't know that he has got the kind of crowd pleasing style and he is not very well known but if he were to beat Mosley it would be look good on his resume and earn him a shot against the other fighters in that division like Paul Williams.....it's an important fight for him and also an important fight for Mosley.
DT - Where would Mosley go next if he wins?
LM - What if, for example, Pacquiao beats Margarito and Mayweather is unavailable for whatever reason, personal, legal problems....Mosley would probably be the best choice for a good fight that Pacquiao could make at the time. Also Mosley could fight Berto who he was scheduled to fight earlier this year.....there are a number of choices because he is still a big name and performs well against the right opponents. Light most veteran fighters, what gives him trouble is pure boxers and speed....what doesn't give him trouble is someone who will come right at him the way Margarito fought him.
DT - Larry, let's go to the undercard. I really like Saul Alvarez who will be fighting former champion Carlos Baldomir.
LM - Alvarez is the current hot young kid. Wherever I go here in Southern California, the Mexican American boxing fans ask me about Alvarez. They are looking for the next Oscar...the guy they can hang their emotions on. Alvarez is already very popular in Mexico and this fight will introduce him to the Los Angeles market on the bicentennial of Mexican Independence Day. There is a certain significance of this fight that will provide inspiration for Alvarez.
DT - Baldomir is a very familiar fighter to the fans that watch HBO boxing. Why is this former champion still fighting?
LM- Fighters continue to fight for various reasons...money is certainly the main reason....boxing is what they do best, and it's hard to walk away. Some boxers just love being on stage...it's a high that not many want to forget. Baldomir's record suggest that he is not going anywhere but if he happens to win then he gets another fight someplace.
DT - I like the fact that he comes to fight.
LM - He is a tough strong fighter who looked like a middleweight when he was fighting at 147lbs. He says he can't make the welterweight limit and this fight will be a catch weight fight closer to the junior middleweights. So there is the question if he can fight at the higher weight....on the other hand, Alvarez is a young welterweight who will probably move up in weight someday.
DT - On the same card Victor Ortiz will take on Vivian Harris which also looks like a good match?
LM - I think that most fans are curious about how Ortiz performs. As you know, 15 months ago at the Staples Center he had a meltdown...not just a loss but a bad loss....to Marcos Maidana. He has a lot to prove...his style has changed but what happens when he gets hit and has to deal with adversity? He has expressed in words and the way he fights that he is not looking to overcome adversity but a way to avoid it. Harris is an interesting case, he was once one of the best 140 pounders in the world, he has a quirky personality and this is maybe a last shot for him. His last two fights have been weird....one ended on a head butt that knocked him out and the other one many fans say was the one of the worse decisions by a referee to stop a fight....that would be his loss to Lucas Matthysse. These things just don't look good on his record so he needs to win this fight to regain some creditability.
DT - Certainly the 140 pound division is loaded with some tough customers....Maidana, Khan, Bradley, and Alexander are the headliners. When will we see these four against each other?
LM - That's what they have been talking about for December. You won't see them on the same card.....each of the two bouts would be main events. Who knows, maybe we will get Maidana and Khan in December. Shortly after that we hope to see Bradley and Alexander and hopefully the two winners would meet each other sometime next year.
Note: It was announced later in the day that Marcos Maidana will fight Amir Khan in Las Vegas, December 11, 2010.
DT - Could Ortiz beat any of these guys?
LM - Ortiz is just 23 and maybe what happened last year was a mistake...part of the maturing process....maybe it revealed that he is never going to be an elite fighter. We might know after this fight if he belongs with the best in the division....this is part of his evolution. The 140 pound division is certainly loaded with talent and I don't think he will be fighting any of those guys right away. There is already talk of him fighting on the undercard of the Maidana card. There is a general sense among boxing fans that he will not be fully recovered until he fights Maidana again...but maybe Maidana has other plans if he beats Khan.
DT - Larry, each of these fights this Saturday seem in one way or another to have a big impact on each boxer's future, it's not just business as usual.
LM - The context of all of these fights is interesting. In terms of what it means to the fighters individually and what it means to boxing collectively. Who wins and how they win....and what's next....especially in this case because of the histories of these fighters. Mosley one of the best fighters of his time....Mora who won the contender series and has just been lingering and hanging on waiting for the right moment....Alvarez who appears to be a wonder boy....Baldomir who just kept plugging away for years until he had the chance to make some money....Ortiz and Harris with their backgrounds. The best pure fight of them all could be the first fight.
DT - That would be Escalante/ De Leon fight?
LM - That's right. The featherweight division is starting to heat up. Let's understand that it was difficult following up Leonard, Hearns, and Duran....it will be very difficult following up Morales, Barrera, and Marquez. Now the featherweight division is trying to restore itself with Juan Manuel Lopez, Gamboa, Rojas.....and the winner of this fight could project himself there at the top. This is a fight that may not need any context.....the text may be enough. The text being the fight itself. This could be a great warm up act for the rest of the night and a hard act to follow as well.
DT - It looks like a good blend of talent and skills....
LM - Some of them are guys that are textbook technicians and some of them are guys that will come out to scramble up the textbook. How competitive the fights will be.....you never know. They could be, for one reason or another, one sided fights. The context of the fight is Mexican Independence Bicentennial and I'm sure that a lot of fans here in Los Angeles will show up without the hype. Given the story lines of all these fighters....I would have to think that it will be a good night at the fights.
DT - Larry earlier in the interview you mentioned the possibility of Shane Mosley fighting Pacman and all the fight fans I know would love to see that happen if the Mayweather fight does not blossom for one reason or another. Shane is a Golden Boy fighter and Pac is a Top Rank fighter, Golden Boy fighters only fight other Golden Boy fighters and Bob Arum only lets his boxers fight each other.....what's up with that?
LM - There seems to be a natural self interest in boxing. Everybody fights for his own self interest....in and out of the ring.....fighters and promoters. At this particular time we are having a second cold front between the two organizations. Each organization has fighters that we fighting for the other organization at one time....Oscar and Mayweather for example. That brings some natural animosity between the organizations. Right now they each feel that they could make more money by fighting amongst themselves than fighting each other. If something shows up that would generate a lot money, then the two organizations would find a way to work something out. This is when all is said and done...a business.
DT - Does the inability to get the Mayweather / Pacquiao fight add to the tension between the two organizations?
LM - No. That is a problem between Mayweather and Pacquiao, not Golden Boy and Top Rank.
DT - Larry, we all look forward to these great fights this Saturday on HBO PPV. Keep up the good work as the best expert commentator in the business.
LM - Thank you.
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