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Larry Merchant Attempts to Explain $5 Million Claim, Makes Himself Seem Kind of Pathetic

(‘Lying is such a negative word.  I prefer to call it efficient storytelling.’)

By all accounts, HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant’s claim that Oscar De La Hoya was missing the Shane Mosley-Antonio Margarito bout on Saturday because Affliction paid him $5 million to attend their show is straight up false.  The question is, did Merchant know it was untrue when he said it?  According to what Golden Boy CEO Richard Shaefer told Sherdog, the answer is: kind of.

Schaefer says he told Merchant that De La Hoya would be helping to promote the Affliction show because “our partners at Affliction made an over $5 million commitment to the event.”  Merchant took that and twisted it to mean that Golden Boy was paid $5 million by Affliction, which is quite a leap, as even Merchant almost admits:

“The $5 million was the number thrown out,” Merchant told on Tuesday. “There was not a discussion on how that precisely was allocated or how it was branded. Is it a little bit glib or short-handed to say that Golden Boy got $5 million and Oscar had to be there? Yeah. Yeah. I’m on television and I’m trying to tell a story as tightly as I can.”

That’s obviously a pretty sorry excuse.  Being on TV doesn’t give you license to distort a story just to make it shorter, as Merchant well knows.  The fact is he just doesn’t like MMA, as he freely admits without ever being asked.  Even tacked on to the end of his erroneous $5 million claim was this little zinger: “It would take that much to get me to go to one of those things.”  Now he says he’d go for a mere $100,000, despite the fact that no one in the MMA world wants or needs him there.

But the thing that’s frustrating about Merchant’s disdain for MMA is that it makes no sense coming from a guy whose life has been spent covering the fight game.  Just look at this quote from Merchant about the decline of boxing, taken from Joe Layden’s book about the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas bout, The Last Great Fight:

“[Boxing’s] no longer a part of the social fabric of the country.  Once upon a time you didn’t have every kid graduating high school, much less college, and boxing was one of the ways out.  You could go to Rochester, Minnesota and find a fight club.  There were gyms in every town, and in most cities it was a place where kids went to test their manhood or to get away from influences; it was something in the dreams of youngsters, to be a champion.  And I think that’s gone, except in some pockets of the Hispanic world. …Now, when people say, ‘Where are all the heavyweights?’  I say, ‘There are hundreds of them out there…and they’re all playing linebacker.’”

What Merchant doesn’t realize is that there are still fight gyms in places like Rochester, Minnesota.  Only they’re MMA gyms now, just like the vanished heavyweights are now MMA heavyweights.  

But Merchant doesn’t see that, probably because he doesn’t want to.  That’s his right, as meager a comfort as it may be.  What he ought to give some thought to, however, is the irony inherent in the fact that the only way for him to garner attention on his boxing broadcasts these days is to mention MMA.


  1. Creamy CA Roll Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:02

    Damn, Dennis Hopper is aging horribly!
  2. Anderson Silva who? Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:13

    Larry Merchant is a drunken midget who should be a commentator for Mexican Wrestling. Hey Larry have another drink! Ya jerk!
  3. drummer Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:16

    I have always been a boxing fan just as I have always been a kickboxing fan, but MMA is the best combat sport today. Being a musician, I find these boxing purists to be alot like like the jazz snobs. They think everything else is second rate and if you don't agree they consider you stupid and uninformed. Snotty jerks can go the way of the dinosaur.
  4. browntown Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:27

    Larry Merchant and his dinosaur sport of boxing will die a rapid death in the next 2 years. It has been written.
  5. Michael W. Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:27

    As a member of MMA's target demographic, I think I speak for all of us when I say "Larry who?"
  6. Aptninja Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:27

    Is it just me, or do boxing fans now use the word "heavyweight" as a euphemism for "guy who is not Mexican?" As in, "I went to the auto parts store, and there wasn't a single heavyweight there."
  7. CZ Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:36

    If Oscar got 5 million to be there (tacked onto the already absurd bankroll that affliction already ran through) than Merchant is only 96 years old. Who needs accurate math anyway? Tom Attencio didn't when he said that there are LITERALLY Hundreds of thousands of ways Josh Barnett could finish a fight, and he wont need it when he talks about the live gate or PPV numbers. I probably had more people at my house to watch the fight then they had in the honda center
  8. Anonymous Bosch Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:48

    I don't think he looks any more pathetic than any other commentator from time to time. I think he looks like a talking head who threw out a comment mindlessly and it has come back to bite him in the ass. No more, no less.
  9. Dr. Gonzo Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:53

    The Cage Potato "comment" contest is going to hurt this site. There are too many people trying to be hilarious. I am confident when I say that the horendously stupid comments outweigh the funny comments. I would rather read some insightful comments about MMA than some clown doing his best Mitch Hedberg
  10. Anonymous Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:56

    YES boxing is a dying sport and if you disagree you're a tool. Even the Boxing purists have said it for a couple of years now you look at the PPvs selling now its MAYBE once a year they can scoundrel up a big name fight to actually draw in a realistic numbers. The lack of personalities as well as the pure corruption everywhere in the sport has killed it, Not just the invasion of MMA they have done it to themselves with no one else to blame.
  11. MoTropolis Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:00

    You can fit a second face on that guys forehead.
  12. Best television story tellers Ever Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:00

    Someone sign these two today. Is EliteXC still looking for commentators? Just imagine: Tito Ortiz: Let me tell you how you feel right now. Larry Merchant: A little bit glib. Larry Merchant: I’m on television and I’m trying to tell a story as tightly as I can. Tito Ortiz: I'm gonna have my interpreter here. Larry Merchant: Once upon a time blah blah blah old man reminiscing ... And I think that’s gone, except in some pockets of the Hispanic world. Tito Ortiz: Him at 131 years old. He’s back for vengeance. Larry Merchant: Where are all the heavyweights? I say, There are hundreds of them out there…and they’re all playing linebacker. Tito Ortiz: Vitor Belfort a round of applause, an awesome 105 pounder!
  13. Anonymous Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:03

    "...the only way for him to garner attention on his boxing broadcasts these days is to mention MMA." Daaaaaaamn! You just bitchslapped Larry Merchant.
  14. Hexed79 Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:03

    I think there are very few of us who can honestly say "it would take much more than [$5 million] to get me there." Just like nearly everyone else associate with boxing, Larry Merchant is full of shit.
  15. TUF Guy Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:06

    I hope I look that good when I'm 104.
  16. CZ Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:11

    Doc Gonzo, At least the people trying to be "hilarious" are good natured, you just make yourself sound like a dick. Considering you want to see insightful comments about MMA, what was insightful or even MMA related about your post? Nothing. Ok so this is me trying to be insightful, boxing is not a dying sport, its just not as popular as it once was and combined with the popularity of MMA its dwindling further. But guys like Arlovski and KJ Noons are trying to decide whether they want to box or fight proves that boxing cant be hurting that bad, and when an event featuring the "Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth" blah blah of our sport, in only his second fight on US soil cant even come CLOSE to selling out, yet a boxing match down the street featuring fighters that may be amazing yet are not considered in that same echilon packs an entire arena, I ask you, is boxing dying, or has MMA yet to reach the consistent popularity that boxing has enjoyed, thus making a small decline in business look like it spelled the end. I hope that was insightful enough for you, because if it isnt, theres no way ill be able to sleep tonight.
  17. LukeTheDuke (bassist) Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:13

    I too am a musician/MMA fan and your depiction is accurate. Music players holla.
  18. Anonymous Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:16

    Merchant is obviously mad because boxing is now irrelevant. The primary reason for it's decline is that it is corrupt and cannot be trusted. People are sick of watching fights go the distance and not given to the obvious winner. MMA is a just sport in the fact that most times fighters end the fight before the end of the match; who can debate a winner in that scenario? And as far as "testing their manhood" goes, obvious Larry Merchant, apparently, has not seen an MMA fight. If it's manhood he's going for he should be the first to jump on the MMA wagon.
  19. UFCinCalgary Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:19

    Hey Larry, Fuck Off
  20. Sneaky Pete Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:34

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that boxing is irrelevant. I think that's a bit harsh. I watched the Affliction event as well as the Margarito fight last Saturday and enjoyed both event for what they were. I there's a purity to boxing, a kind of simplicity to it that I enjoy. The fighter that practices the basics better than his opponent will generally win. There are fewer variables, and you can generally see who is going to win, barring a decision, in the first two or three rounds. MMA on the other hand has a huge number of variables to account for, and the ground game is a bit of a mystery to casual fans. I think boxing aficionados look at Mixed Martial Arts and see a chaotic scene that throws them so far out their comfort zone that they're simply repulsed. There is a temptation to characterize it as a brutal sport, but I haven't seen nearly the number and types of injuries that I've seen in other sports such as football, hockey, or even boxing for that matter. It mat be that MMA is just too young a sport to make those comparison, but I doubt it.
  21. biohazardone Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:36

    Poor guy, what can he really say. He is bitter that his beloved sport that he has been commentating for most of his broadcast carreer is slowly becoming irrelevant to the masses. I love boxing but I also love MMA. I believe boxing will always be around just like baseball but guess what...MMA will also eventually become a household name. Larry is just one of those dinasaurs that does not want to get on the band wagon. Dont be angry at the guy....just pitty him and wish him the best into a worthless oblivion.
  22. Dr. Gonzo Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:38

    CZ, My comment wasn't insightful, I admit that. I have been coming to this sight for the last year and love Ben's writing. Ever since this T-shirt contest came out, I have to sift through people trying to be comedians. The "caption" contest is great for that. The comments section is for discussion, or so I thought. You can say that I come off looking like a dick, but you have to admit that the conversation flowed a lot more before this contest existed. This sight and Fightlinker are my favorite 2 sights and I hate to try to start a discussion on the comments when people are trying noticably too hard to try to win a t-shirt. I find that the funniest comments on here are reply's to other's comments and not some off the wall comment. But that's just me, the dick
  23. biohazardone Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:42

    Dr. Gonzo, I understand what you are saying, but I also understand what CZ is saying. Bottom line, I have to go with CZ on this one. The reason I come to cagepotato is because both Bens as well as other writers provide no nonsense, in your face MMA news and openly points out the "elephant in the room". Cagepotato openly says what everyone is already thinking but are too afraid to say anything. Yes there are some members of the cagepotato community that like to make funny, crazy, and sometimes distastful comments. But thos same members also provide us with different genuine perspectives of the sport we have come to love. Doc, take a break....things dont always have to be serious around here. The MMA community also likes to have fun when discussing different MMA subjects. Well, that is just my thought. With regards to the contests that are held here. I believe this is a way that cagepotato shows their appreciation to the MMA fans as well as their following. Think about it.
  24. shitwhistle Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:44

    I, too, am a musician. I've played the skin flute for years. Larry Merchant has gotten past that point, where, no matter how much you try to convince, explain, enlighten etc., he'll never get MMA. More to the point, he probably doesn't want to get MMA. His loss... And Dr Gonzo, I'm afraid CZ's diagnosis is spot on. You're a dick and I think Mitch Hedberg would agree.
  25. Jay Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:47

    I would've preferred he said something like: "You know, I heard the $5M number and was like HOLY SHIT, Oscar is gettin' paid. But then again I was hopped up on Percodan and Metamucil and was trying really hard not to fall down and shit all over myself to be really listening.."
  26. Hollies snubbed again. Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:50

    I really have lost alot of respect for Larry. This is coming from a former boxer who, for the most part, would now rather watch top notch [Read; UFC, Affiltion] MMA, than big fights. I still love boxing, but if I were a young man again, I'd be training MMA. Merchant is becoming a fossil.
  27. Hollies snubbed again. Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:50

    Affliction, obviously.
  28. Derekrva Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:51

    That picture of Merchant is straight nightmare fuel. It looks like he just asked to buy your soul. I, like many of you, grew up watching boxing, but then for numerous reasons it lost relevance, while sports like football and baseball became more popular, hence why heavyweights/non Latinos are playing linebacker. IMO its just the evolution of combat sports or at least the passing of a torch. (For all the music heads) Its like how blues guitar branched out and evolved to create new forms of music. Boxing is an important foundation, but now it's an element. A wrench in a skill set rather than the entire toolbox. Boxing still has a role, but it'll never be what it was in the 70's, 80's and early 90's.
  29. Meohfumado Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:54

    Larry Merchant is just an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. He's too busy doing his impression of the Reverend Moore from Footloose to bother being informed about the subject.
  30. Anderson Silva who? Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 10:57

    Dr. Gonzo, Are you really a Doctor Or an AssClown? You want to be serious go to the ER! Here at cagepotato we are all wannabe stand-ups who like a good fight! Paging Doctor AssClown to change your bed pan. Paging Doctor AssClown to change your bed pan. Quit crying!
  31. Dr. Gonzo Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 11:00

    Well, I don't think that anyone is going to change anyone's mind anytime soon about this, so I will agree to disagree. Good luck with your T-Shirts guys.
  32. Dr. Gonzo Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 11:02

    I think you guys are taking this too seriously. The reason I posted that is because I have read so many comments on different topics where it seems like people aren't trying to say something insightful, but they are trying too hard to be funny. It wasn't neccesarily this comment section, but other comment sections. There are some very intelligent people that post on MMA sights and I enjoy hearing their point of view of things. I am sorry, but to me, it seems like most of the comments are people trying to hard. I understand that you guys post here more than me, and are very protective of this sight, but I come here everyday and I truly believe that Ben is the best MMA writer out there, bar none. To say that I am a dick when my comment wasn't directed at anyone particular is a little extreme. You guys criticize fighters all the time, but the second someone criticizes a blogger, it's curtains. I apologize if I angered any of you and I EXTREMELY apologize if I offended Ben, but that is just what was on my mind when I posted it so I did so. I post at Fightlinker and they are FAR from serious. Biohazardone, I appreciate your mature reply to my point of view, the other two that refer to me as a dick, I guess the truth hurts some people, so I understand your discontent and your loyalty.
  33. Biohazardone Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 11:20

    Doc Gonzo, Dont take too much offense to the negative comments that are directed towards you. By all means, you continue to visit this website and continue to post insightful comments. I realize that it appears that everyone has ganged up on you but this will pass. Yes, the loyal fans of this website as well as MMA fans in general are very protective of the MMA sport. Im included in this category. But us fans are also forgiving. Dont worry about the bashing you recieved today. Tomorrow, everyone will forget and it will be business as usual.
  34. Anonymous Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 11:31

    i agree with dr.gonzo and nice mitch hedberg reference r.i.p also escalators can never be out of service, they can only temporarily become stairs, sorry for the convienence.
  35. Anderson Silva who? Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 11:32

    I will NEVER forget! I regreeeeeettttt NNNOOoooooothiiiiiiinnnnngggggg!!!!!!
  36. scott whitt Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 12:11

    The worst thing about Larry's and other boxing defender's comments, ois that boxing is doing as well as it has in years. There have been several big time PPV just within the past year. And this is all without a recognizable and dominant heavyweight champion. I think one reason for this is the rise of MMA has kicked the boxing world in its' ass. There is no reason why both cannot be successful at the same time. I do believe that in the yeast to come MMA with overtake since right now MMA is skewing much much young than boxing so it stand to reason. Sorry to be serious for a moment. Insert homophobic fart joke here.
  37. Craig O Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 01:21

    Larry is DRUNK, END OF STORY!!! Larry is DRUNK, END OF STORY!!! Larry is DRUNK, END OF STORY!!!
  38. Anonymous Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 01:31

    Larry Merchant isn't even a good boxing commentator... He is often argumentative, bullheaded and just plain rude to his counter-parts.. On top of that, for someone with so much experience he often sounds uneducated about the fighters and fights. That being said I think you have to take his comments at face value... He treats MMA like the enemy because it is a direct threat to his lively hood. He preaches that boxing is a science and MMA is human cockfighting... That is quite possibly the most nonsensical statement to make. While boxers do have skill it is a sport that any thug or gangbanger can adapt to... Also there are only so many ways to strike and defend in boxing... If boxing is a sweet science then MMA is like NASA grade scientific... Standing, wrestling, BJJ... it all is multi level competion that boxing just can't compare to... So Mr. Merchant... sit down and watch an MMA card with someone educated to the sport and you might just find that you enjoy it and may want to look into opening your horizons to more combat sports than just the basic, most simplest form.... Hell i'm a boxing fan and I still find XARM more exciting these
  39. CZ Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 02:16

    Doc Gonzo, I definitely did not mean for this to get to where it is, as you did not intend for your comment to be lambasted like it was. Lol, In part I agree with you about the contest watering down the sites comments a bit, but you have to admit sometimes it does make it mroe entertaining, my personal favorite was the Mir-lightning bolt/ Lesnar big building back and forth from a few months ago. Basically I know we are supposed to hate each other for ever now, and our kids can never go to the bus stop or even eat lunch together, but thats where it ends. and yes, there is NO doubt that the writer of this sight is nothing short of hilarious, but that too may be the problem (so please stop being funny so the rest of us can stop looking like Kevin James to your Dane Cook hahah), a kid watches MJ on tv, and suddenly he goes to his driveway sticks his tongue out and thinks he can hit every three he shoots, well after reading consistently hilarious material, maybe some of these kids just wanna be like BEN. We cool
  40. Creamy CA Roll Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 02:43

    @ CZ & Dr. Gonzo You two should join Remaining Men Together. It's a good support group for guys that've lost their balls - I keeed, I keeed
  41. fuckin tuff Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 04:31

    just die already you old f*ck!!
  42. bonerjams 98 Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 04:38

    Larry Merchant is crazy as hell, why would anyone even listen to what he says, or take it serious. -"Castillo used his hands more when he was making his way from Cuba to Florida" -"Peter comes from the old school of swing in case you hit something" -Describing Lacy Vs. Calzaghe: "he had a Michael Richards kind of bad day"
  43. Ketamine 4Kids Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 06:20

    I've heard everyone from George Foreman to Emanuel Stewart even complain about this douche not even knowing shit about boxing! Why the fuck anyone thinks he has a relevant comment on EITHER sport I have no idea. Like Madden(Blah, Blah, Blah...draw on the TV, Blah blah) did for me and football, just hearing Merchant's yap makes me want to change the channel. Drown yourself Merchant!
  44. dude Says:

    Wed, 01/28/09 - 09:28

    This guy is sarcastic, racist (sometimes i think he is), arrogant and too damn old. His days are over as a commentator. Please, somebody do him the favor and place him in a nursing home!
  45. Bootylam! Says:

    Thu, 01/29/09 - 09:27

    People have been calling boxing a dying sport for at least 100 years but they are WRONG. There are ebbs and flows, just like any sport, and what they need right now are some good personalities. Look at any boxing top 100 active fighters list and you will know lots of those names. Now even try to come up with an MMA one. Never forget that with no boxing there would be no MMA. MMA and boxing should be the first sports to defend each other. Merchant's just a fuddy-duddy and he's the reason I turn the sound off.
  46. Bootylam! Says:

    Thu, 01/29/09 - 09:34

    Oh yeah, and this site has skewed more towards asshattery, but so what? Still better than the others, and if you pay attention you will see that many insiders and actual fighters hang out here whether they will admit it or not. It's usually pretty easy to see who the true fans are compared to the clowns.
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