Larry Merchant on Adrien Broner’s bout with Rees, PEDs in boxing, seeing Donaire-Mares fall through, and more

Junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire (Photo: Naoki Fukuda)

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By Chris Robinson

It had been a little while since I had touched base with longtime HBO analyst Larry Merchant to discuss the sweet science in depth.

No longer announcing fights for HBO and having recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, Merchant has been enjoying his newfound free time very well it seems. As one would guess, Merchant still has great enthusiasm for the boxing game and is always open to discussing anything related to the sport.

Calling up Merchant recently, we discussed some recent storylines, including WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner’s bout with Gavin Rees tonight in Atlantic City, his thoughts on junior welterweight brute Lucas Matthysse, the issues with performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of boxing, and why he would have preferred to see junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire face Abner Mares instead of Guillermo Rigondeaux.

This is what Merchant had to share.

Adrien Broner’s ring return vs. Gavin Rees…
“Anytime Broner fights, as a fight fan you want to see what he’s up to and how he goes about doing what he’s supposed to do, which is supposed to beat this guy.”

The appeal of Broner…
“He’s got a live act that he uses to bring attention to himself and to his fights outside the ring. I don’t think it’s mean-spirited, I think it’s just him being who he is and more or less doing it with a smile. I have no problems with that. In the ring he looks like he knows how to fight and he wants to fight. And that he wants to box and bang.”

Lucas Matthysse’s chilling knockout over Mike Dallas Jr…
“I did catch that. I like Matthysse. I’ve always liked him. I think that he’s a good fighter and I want to see him fight the best guys in the welterweight divisions. He’s another guy who has an idea of how to fight and comes to fight. We can’t have enough of those guys.”

Whether Matthysse’s split-decisions losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander served as motivation…
“They’re the kind of fights that a fighter wins in his hometown. If those fights would have been in his hometown, he would have won them. But, that’s the nature of boxing and he had an outclassed opponent (Mike Dallas Jr.) in front of him. He made sure it didn’t go to the judges on that occasion.”

Hearing of Yuriorkis Gamboa being linked to a PED distributor in Miami, Florida…
“I don’t know what happened. I just will take note that Gamboa is apparently looking to fight bigger guys; so you can put those things together.”

Performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of boxing…
“Well, it is an issue. And the real issue to me is whether, in the equation of risk and reward, that boxing makes sure the reward is too low or the risk is too high when you get caught. And that’s the only way to discourage PEDs, to reduce the reward for it. [Lamont] Peterson hasn’t fought in well over a year. We need more guys who are willing to voluntarily submit to the most rigorous drug-protocols. And those who don’t and who get nailed need to find out that it wasn’t worth the risk. I’m not sure that the boxing commissions have stepped up to that responsibility yet.”

Nonito Donaire possibly meeting Guillermo Rigondeaux in April…
“Well, I’m like other boxing fans; I want to see Donaire fight [Abner] Mares. But Rigondeaux is the type of fighter who can make a difficult fight, a boring fight maybe. It will be up to Donaire t make him fight his fight. Donaire has shown so far, in recent years, that he can handle any style. I don’t know if he’s seen somebody who’s as much of a pure boxer.”

The ongoing feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions that prevents several big fights from happening…
“It isn’t good for the boxing fans. Everybody in boxing acts in their own self -interests. We all get that. That includes not just the fighters, but the managers and the networks and the promoters. When your self-interests get in the way of high-profile fights that get fans excited, then it’s counter-productive to the game and to the fans.”

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Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com and www.HustleBoss.com

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