To Mayweather, he's Merchant of venom

Merchant
Merchant
Posted: September 19, 2011

ANGERED by Larry Merchant's persistent questioning about the controversial nature of his fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz Saturday night at Las Vegas' MGM Grand, newly crowned WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. launched into a profane rant at the 80-year-old boxing analyst and said that HBO, Merchant's employer, should fire him.

"You never give me a fair shake, you know that," Mayweather told Merchant. "So go talk to Victor Ortiz, all right? I'm through. HBO needs to fire you. You don't know [crap] about boxing."

Merchant, a former Daily News sports editor, didn't back down, saying, "I wish I was 50 years younger and I'd kick your ass."

Yesterday afternoon, Merchant said the flare-up was another in a long line of times he's been verbally assaulted by fighters who don't like interviewers who don't fawn all over them.

"It's happened a few times with fighters over the years," Merchant said. "I ask questions, they want love.

"I was trying to find out what happened at the end of that fight. There were a lot of boos. It was a very hostile scene with the crowd. Floyd just exploded and said some nasty, nasty things. I responded."

Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs), coming off a 16-month layoff, was controlling the action against Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) in the fourth round when Ortiz thrust his skull upward into Mayweather's face, bloodying his lip. It appeared to be an intentional head-butt, and referee Victor Cortez immediately called time and instructed the judges to deduct a penalty point from Ortiz.

Suddenly contrite, Ortiz tried to hug Mayweather and even kiss him. Then, with Cortez looking toward someone at ringside and away from both fighters, and with Ortiz, his hands down, looking at Cortez, Mayweather clocked Ortiz with a left hook and an overhand right, both of which landed flush. Ortiz went down and Cortez counted him out 2 minutes, 59 seconds into the round.

"I was told to protect yourself at all times," Mayweather said in explaining his actions.

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