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Larry Merchant, one of the greatest boxing journalists in history, tells Elliot Worsell his compelling story
THAT MOMENT: Mayweather lets rip at Merchant live on television


TWO summers ago, Larry Merchant made a twenty-dollar bet with one of the fruit vendors at his local Santa Monica farmers’ market and has been getting remunerated with free fruit ever since.

Collection day tends to be Wednesday, the day he scours the stalls for blueberries, and all Merchant must do is simply show his face. “Whenever I come near his stand,” he said, “he wants to give me a pound of peaches.”

Back then the bet was a no-brainer for Merchant. It was his chance to capitalise on both the growing popularity of combat sports and his own expertise as a self-proclaimed ringside kibitzer. He didn’t know it would lead to a lifetime supply of fruit, but he knew it was a bet he wouldn’t lose.

“I’ll take Conor McGregor,” said the vendor. “Twenty bucks says he wins.”

Merchant sided with Floyd Mayweather, an old sparring partner, and his twenty dollars were as safe as the fight itself. “How could I refuse?” he said.

Interestingly, six years before inadvertently helping an old man with his weekly fruit and veg shop, Floyd Mayweather accused Larry Merchant of not knowing “s**t about boxing” and called for HBO to fire him from his job as ringside analyst. Neither were to know at the time that a controversial fight against Victor Ortiz would compare favourably to what was to be served up for fight number 50, but Merchant dared question Mayweather’s ambition and Mayweather reacted the way he did to most challengers. He was quick to sting, then skirted around the issue.

“It was the eighth anniversary of the Mayweather moment yesterday,” said Merchant, now 88 years of age. “You’re the first one today who has mentioned it and I’m sure you won’t be the last.”

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About Boxing News

FIRST CLASS – Josh Taylor overcomes Regis Prograis in a fantastic WBSS final GIANT LEAP – Canelo Alvarez moves up to light-heavy to face Sergey Kovalev THE ANALYST – Hall of Fame broadcaster Larry Merchant looks back on his career MUCH, MUCH MORE – Including Katie Taylor, Anthony Crolla and Shakur Stevenson