Larry Merchant doesn't believe there's anything suspicious about Manny Pacquiao.
HBO analyst Larry Merchant was interviewed by USA Today, and said he just "can't take it seriously" when it comes to the ongoing Mayweather-Pacquiao fiasco.
They seem serious about it. Almost as if they were saying Pacquiao can't be this good on his own. Now it seems like it's a bloodbath. There's no precedent for fighters who have already decided how to divide the money then find issues that would break up a huge event. It's hard to take seriously even if it appears to be serious.
This is the stance I had a week ago, but it's getting really absurd all around, and I just don't know what to think anymore. I do know that my interest in this fight has seriously waned even if it winds up going on. If they were trying to stir up interest, I fear it may have had the exact opposite effect. "Steroids" isn't something that makes people want to see athletes. It's something that makes people want to see them get the hell off of TV. I don't recall it being a big boost for the careers of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Sammy Sosa, do you?
Merchant also discussed what Pacquiao has done in the sport, and how amazing but not truly unprecedented it is:
Henry Armstrong turned pro at 120. He also fought for a middleweight championship. Alexis Arguello was a bantamweight when he started as a 16-year-old but he wound up fighting in the 140s. Ted "Kid" Lewis started as a bantamweight, and after winning the welterweight championship wound up fighting the top light heavyweights in the world. There are guys who are exceptions to the rule. Pacquiao fights in the low '40s. That means he has breakfast and lunch before the weigh-in where most fighters eat lightly, if at all. He's done a few amazing things. It's not like he's going around knocking everybody stiff with one punch. He's a boxer-puncher who has won on his boxing ability and his quickness. He hit De La Hoya with a flurry of 50 or 60 clean punches and never knocked him down. He's not Superman's son. He's just a helluva fighter who has captured the imagination of the fight world and become a kind of international cultural figure who transcends the sport.
I know a lot of people don't much care for Larry these days, but I still enjoy him a lot of the time, and thought this was quite a good interview. He seems to have a "here we go again" attitude about what's going on, and after all these years, as if he's disappointed but neither surprised nor up in arms.