Mauricio Sulaiman of the WBC is standing behind Floyd Mayweather Jr in his post-fight beef with HBO Sports commentator Larry Merchant, criticizing Merchant for...well, something, I guess:
"We are 100% in Floyd Mayweather’s corner. What a journalist does, has responsibilities and consequences. And this journalist put Floyd in a position that a responsible TV network [and] a responsible TV journalist should not do. What he did in front of millions is very regrettable. All the blame is on Larry Merchant."
After watching it a few times and hearing Merchant's side of things, my feeling at this point is that Larry Merchant didn't really do anything other than defend himself. I have been a Merchant critic for years now, don't enjoy his commentary much at all, and do wish that HBO Sports would replace him. I also happen to think that Sulaiman is blowing this mildly out of proportion and not even giving consideration to the fact that Mayweather acted like an angry child in a supermarket checkout line.
Merchant verbally pushed at Mayweather a bit, but he always probes. Perhaps he does so a bit clumsily, and you can find ways to say that Floyd was justified -- Merchant, after all, is not particularly likeable most of the time in post-fight interviews, and has butted heads with Mayweather for years. The two don't get along and there's a long history here that probably came bubbling to the surface. But the only excuse I've heard for Mayweather suddenly launching into his tirade is that Merchant wasn't mentioning the headbutt from Victor Ortiz and Floyd got mad and felt, as he always does when standing next to Merchant, short-changed by the commentator.
Do you think that was really it, though, and not just a riled-up Mayweather going after an old man in a bit of a temper tantrum? The telling moment to me is that after Mayweather screams at Merchant, who doesn't respond, Mayweather feels the need to continue after having apparently finished, which sends Merchant over the edge. He defends himself verbally.
And in the end, whoop-de-damn-doo. An argument. Merchant has had them before. He'll have them again.
I don't think there's any great science here. Merchant's job is to ask tough questions, but I didn't see any of those questions as notably tough, really. Mayweather has a tendency to fly off the handle when his ego isn't being stroked, and Merchant isn't an ego-stroker. Except, of course, with his own.