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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.

Cagepotato Comments

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Bootylam!- January 29, 2009 at 9:34 am
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.
Bootylam!- January 29, 2009 at 9:27 am
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.
dude- January 28, 2009 at 9:28 pm
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!
Ketamine 4Kids- January 28, 2009 at 6:20 pm
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!
bonerjams 98- January 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm
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"
fuckin tuff- January 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm
just die already you old f*ck!!
Creamy CA Roll- January 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm
@ 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
CZ- January 28, 2009 at 2:16 pm
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
Anonymous- January 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm
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
Craig O- January 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm


scott whitt- January 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm
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.
Anderson Silva who?- January 28, 2009 at 11:32 am
I will NEVER forget! I regreeeeeettttt NNNOOoooooothiiiiiiinnnnngggggg!!!!!!
Anonymous- January 28, 2009 at 11:31 am
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.

Biohazardone- January 28, 2009 at 11:20 am
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.
Dr. Gonzo- January 28, 2009 at 11:02 am
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.
Dr. Gonzo- January 28, 2009 at 11:00 am
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.
Anderson Silva who?- January 28, 2009 at 10:57 am
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!
Meohfumado- January 28, 2009 at 10:54 am
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.

Derekrva- January 28, 2009 at 10:51 am
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.
Hollies snubbed again.- January 28, 2009 at 10:50 am
Affliction, obviously.
Hollies snubbed again.- January 28, 2009 at 10:50 am
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.
Jay- January 28, 2009 at 10:47 am
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.."
shitwhistle- January 28, 2009 at 10:44 am
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.
biohazardone- January 28, 2009 at 10:42 am
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.
Dr. Gonzo- January 28, 2009 at 10:38 am
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