Scott Christ over at Bad Left Hook articulates what both reasonable MMA and boxing fans (and fans of both sports) are thinking about Larry Merchant's utterly juvenile comments during last night's HBO boxing broadcast:
I like Larry Merchant, but he and Lampley have got to get over their infantile vendetta against MMA. Look, we get it, you don't like it. Can't these guys take the road that ESPN writer Dan Rafael takes? Rafael has repeatedly stated that he has watched MMA, he understands the appeal, but it's just not for him. That's fine. Lampley and Merchant seem to think this childish sniping is going to change the fact that mixed martial arts has a massive lead in key demographics like 18-34 year old males and, you know, pretty much everyone else besides Latinos and African-Americans and old people that like combat sports still and haven't given up on boxing while grumbling that they don't make 'em like Marciano no more, conflabbit.
I also think it's worth taking issue with the validity of Merchant's suggestion that Oscar was paid $5 million to appear at the Affliction show. According to Bloody Elbow's Michael Rome, the entire Affliction payroll for the performers last night was around $4.6 million, if Fedor's unverified bonus is the $1.3 million that is being reported. Maybe a bit more than $4.6 million.
Are you telling me that in this economy, with a company that is struggling financially and had horrible results selling tickets in Anaheim last night, that Oscar de la Hoya got $5 million at the lowest point of his career since he became a superstar to just sit there? That's more than the entire fighter payroll of that show.
I get the feeling Larry may have been slightly misinformed. No doubt Affliction paid Oscar to appear, but $5 million? Come on.
Also, I have to take some offense as a fan of both sports to Merchant's snide remark and Lampley's shared chuckling because the two would, I will guarantee, use the word "barbaric" or "dangerous" when talking about why they don't like mixed martial arts. I don't care who likes what sport, and I don't really care why they do or don't. It makes no difference in my life. But we're watching a fight on HBO where Antonio Margarito tried to come to the ring, reportedly, with a "plaster-like substance" on his wraps, and MMA is barbaric?
Glass houses, guys.
Memo to Jim and Larry: as my friend Chad Dukes is wont to say, stop making it all about you. Stick to jab-cross, stick and move boxing commentary. That is clearly the only matters over which you hold the slightest level of expertise. You both sound like jilted lovers and at this point, it's all becoming quite unseemly. Please grasp the notion that to describe your opinion on MMA as perfunctory would be an underserved promotion of its actual status. Immediately.