LAS VEGAS – Larry Merchant's professional obituary has been written several times recently, which came as big news to HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg.
Contrary to news stories in the New York Daily News, the Philadelphia Daily News and MaxBoxing.com stating Merchant would be replaced as the boxing analyst at HBO after Saturday's Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, Greenburg insisted he is hopeful he can re-sign Merchant, 76, to a longer-term contract.
"We still have time and I want to keep him," Greenburg said, declining to discuss specifics. “"Larry is still throwing the 95 miles per hour fastball and hitting the corners. He's the soul of HBO boxing and he has been for 28 years, since the day I hired him.
"He's a fixture on this network and I'm his biggest champion. He's the closest thing that exists to Howard Cosell in sports television today."
Bob Raissman, the New York Daily News' television critic, railed against the potential departure of Merchant and the possible promotion of Max Kellerman from the "Boxing After Dark" team into Merchant's slot as lead analyst on "World Championship Boxing."
In his column on Sunday, Raissman said "this would be like replacing Picasso with the guy who sells the Velvet Elvises outside of Graceland." He praised Merchant's willingness to ask tough questions during post-fight interviews and said replacing him with Kellerman "will signal a lowering of journalistic standards" at HBO Sports.
Greenburg took umbrage with the notion that he was influenced to keep Merchant by anything a sports writer had written.
"I don't need confirmation from Bob Raissman or Bernard Fernandez (of the Philadelphia Daily News) regarding anything about Larry, his work or his importance to this network," Greenburg said. "We're the ones who created Larry Merchant and gave him this platform. And we very much want to continue that relationship."
Merchant remains hopeful.
"We've been at an impasse for some time, but it ain't over till it's over and we're still talking," Merchant said.
YOUNGER OR WISER?
Given the choice of his athletic ability when he was 24 in 1997 or the wisdom he's gained from 10 years of competing at the highest levels, De La Hoya said he'd choose the wisdom.
Though he was briefly regarded as the top fighter in the world after scoring a controversial decision over Pernell Whitaker in 1997, De La Hoya said he felt that in his current incarnation he could beat the young and strong De La Hoya of 1997.
"I think I'd probably choose the wisdom, the wisdom of all these years that I have accumulated," De La Hoya said. "My body, right now I feel like I'm 25 again. It's a matter of doing the right thing and preparing yourself. But the wisdom that I have accumulated over the years, I mean, that's priceless."
Welterweight champion Shane Mosley said he has no plans to sue his friend, former lightweight champion Diego Corrales, but said he is simply trying to collect money Corrales owes Golden Boy.
Corrales tried to sign as a free agent with Golden Boy last October, and received a six-figure signing bonus. But Gary Shaw successfully argued that he still had rights to Corrales and forced Golden Boy to tear up the agreement.
Mosley, who is a partner in Golden Boy and recruited him to the company, said the bonus was given to help Corrales pay back taxes, which he did.
But now Corrales doesn't have the money to pay Golden Boy what he took from them. Mosley said Corrales signed a legal document acknowledging the debt.
"He'll pay it when he can," Mosley said.
Corrales could not be reached for comment.
Mayweather's father, Floyd Sr., is known for his poems making fun of his fighter's opponent and trainer. He didn't get a chance to read a poem at Wednesday's news conference because he wasn't on the dais.
If he had, Freddie Roach, De La Hoya's trainer and the object of much of Senior's pre-fight scorn, was prepared. He had his own poem at the ready that poked fun at the self-proclaimed world's greatest trainer.
"Floyd Mayweather Senior is boxing's greatest trainer, willing to sell out his son.
"He offered to train De La Hoya, if he was paid a ton.
"But you can't put a price tag on loyalty. That's the difference between you and me.
"The other difference is that I won the Oscar and a much bigger trainer fee."
- Larry Merchant
- De La Hoya