(‘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 Sherdog.com 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: