Lederman on Floyd Mayweather

By Robert Ecksel on September 20, 2011
Lederman on Floyd Mayweather
"The youth of America is looking up to you. What did he do to his reputation? What?"


There’s no greater advocate for the fights than Harold Lederman. He believes in boxing. He believes in boxers. He’s a believer. Yet he couldn’t believe what he saw Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

He was ringside for the fight in his customary role as HBO’s “unofficial ringside scorer” and had a closer view than any us will ever have to what went down in the arena.

I saw Lederman earlier today at the presser in midtown Manhattan for Cotto-Margarito II and asked what he thought of Mayweather’s performance. The usually jolly Lederman grew red in the face and did not hold his tongue.

“He’s a punk,” said Lederman. “He shouldn’t have hit him. He should have stepped back. You be a gentleman in boxing. He’s the number one fighter in the world today. Forget what happened. He shouldn’t have done it—period. End of story.”

Although Lederman said “End of story,” it wasn’t the end of the story, at least as far as Harold Lederman was concerned.

“He’s the best fighter in the world. People look up to him. Children look up to him. Do you think that enhances his reputation with kids? Come on! It was a damn sucker punch. Give me a break. He could have won legitimately in the next round, in the fifth or sixth round. He knew he was going to win easily. Why do you do a thing like that if children are looking up to you? The youth of America is looking up to you. What did he do to his reputation? What? It was a horrible thing to do. It was so obvious that he was going to win legitimately. Why do you do a thing like that? If you’re the number one fighter, children look up to you, fans look up to you, people who have nothing in this economy that are struggling to survive look up to you. They come, they want to see him, and he wins on a cheap shot. The question is why.”

I’m sure Lederman must lose his temper now and then, but I could swear that I saw what looked like steam coming out of his ears at the Edison Ballroom.

“As far as Joe Cortez,” Lederman said, “number one, an intentional foul you don’t take away one point you take away two points. That’s what the rules say. That was mistake number one. Number two, the first rule of refereeing: Don’t take your eyes off the fighters. He took his eyes off the fighters. He lost control of the fight. Number three, he was looking to find the timekeeper to call time in, ‘cause when he was looking he was looking over where I was sitting and the only one from the commission where I was sitting was the timekeeper. So obviously he’s looking at the timekeeper to call time back in, and he’s not watching the fighters, and Mayweather walked out of the corner and clocked Ortiz.”

I wish I had been sitting with Lederman and the timekeeper so that I could have seen for myself what Lederman says he saw.

“And would you talk to an octogenarian like that?” asked Lederman, referring to Larry Merchant. “I don’t care what the circumstances are. Enhanced reputation number two. Don’t you think that we want to make boxing a game that will appeal to kids, appeal to fans? Are there any morals anymore? Are there any values? Obviously, what he said to Larry dated back to previous interviews Larry had with him. But I still don’t think that’s any excuse to talk to a person 80 years old like that. I mean this wasn’t whether we should get out of Afghanistan or get out of Iraq. This is a sporting event. How do you go off on an octogenarian? He was doing his job. He was asking some tough questions. I was really upset about what went on. And Mayweather thinks he did the right thing!”

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  1. Simon 09:42am, 09/26/2011

    It is sad to read so much bias dressed as objective commentary. Not much is being said about four if not more headbutts. People blame Floyd for not knocking out opponents and when he does he is classless. All that these critics wanna see is Floyd lose and nothing else. Like Merchant, they are disgusted by Floyd. This is the new culture that they will resist, ask them what hip hop is and they will call garbage. This is the dawn of a new era. Unfortunately Floyd will continue to win and they will lose bets and go home with broken hearts. Had the tables been turned. Mayweather head butting Ortiz and then getting knocked out while apologizing for the third time, were we going to hear Ortiz is classless? When Merchant questioned Floyd he used the word “unfair” twice but when interviewing Ortiz he implied the headbutt was merely a reflex action, while using his leading questions. Ask yourself why, he represents millions of those who can’t accept the new reality.

  2. Ghost 06:47am, 09/25/2011

    Charles Strong - Thumbs up!

  3. Charles Strong 06:35am, 09/25/2011

    I find it a bit amusing that people post comments under the guise of being objective that are clearly biased . I saw the fight and what I saw was Ortiz foul Mayweather. Cortez took a point, which should have been 2 pts because the foul was intentional. Cortez then verbally chastised Ortiz who clearly was accepting of the correction because he knew he was wrong. I then heard Cortez say “Let’s go!” which even I as a fan took to mean the action was back on. As for Cortez looking away, I believe he was clearly trying to make sure the time keeper knew he had given the ok. Both fighters came in suggesting one final embrace of sportsmanship. Floyd’s posture changed immediately after that embrace which was a clue that he was going to strike at first chance and Ortiz backed away from the embrace breaking boxing cardinal rule of “protect yourself at all times”. As for Larry Merchant’s post fight interviews with Floyd, more often than not they come across as biased. If he can ask tough , biased questions, his age shouldn’t figure in to how the fighter should respond. As for Harold Letterman, because I respect his points of view a lot more than Merchant’s , point taken but I respectfully disagree with him about Floyd being a punk. He’s human and to be human is to err. As a fan I hate how the fight ended especially after seeing what Ortiz did to Berto but I’m hoping there’s a rematch.

  4. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:43am, 09/21/2011

    I don’t go to a fight hoping that we all end up in post-fight discussions about which fighter was more skillful in taking advantage of technicalities about the rules.  Do you?  Most of us go with the expectation (if not hope) that an actual boxing match will break out.

  5. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:39am, 09/21/2011

    And David, is a journalist allowed to pose a “reaction” question.  In my opinion, Merchant was initiating the interview from a point of deep dissatisfaction in reaction to what happened to end the fight and it was not far off from a reflection of how most of us felt—UNSATISFIED.

  6. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:37am, 09/21/2011

    David—Too negative or too biased is the hallmark of American “journalism” today—especially in the political arena.  Again (and again and again), without question (assuming “time in” was called—I did not hear it and Cortez appeared to be signaling to the timekeeper “time in” when Ortiz was already on the canvas), Floyd’s punch was legal.  At the risk of being a broken record, it ain’t about “legal” to me; it’s about what I want to see in sportsmanship.

  7. David Matthew 08:10pm, 09/20/2011

    Yank - Floyd definitely calculated (albeit for a split second) his move and it was definitely a cold-blooded maneuver…but it wasn’t improper/illegal.  Ortiz may have got caught up in the heat of the moment - but I think he got lost in the head of the moment and his lapse of focus cost him the fight.

    Good point on the need for journalists to ask tough questions….but there is such a thing as being *too* negative and always focusing on controversial/negative questions almost exclusively.  Merchant rarely (if at all) will ask Floyd questions that appropriately highlight the positive things he did in a fight….it’s usually always him just saying a begrudging ‘congrats’ and then immediately going to ‘this seemed to be an easy win/mismatch for you….what about pacquiao - why won’t u fight him?’ - so i’d like to see more balance….but there is room for some positive questions and allowing a guy who just won a big fight to speak for a second on his accomplishment…Merchant seems to hate whenever a fighter wants to speak on the work he has just done.

  8. Robert Ecksel 05:49pm, 09/20/2011

    Thanks KLM. You’re a good man. We need more men like you in boxing.

  9. KLM 05:36pm, 09/20/2011

    Robert - Thanks for reaching out to me. Now that that matter is cleared up. I’ll try to be more transparent with my thoughts.

  10. "Old Yank" Schneider 05:13pm, 09/20/2011

    I agree that Merchant has a history of being unfair in an erudite, if not downright condescending manner to Floyd.  But one of the greatest problems with journalism today is tossing interview subjects softballs.  If Floyd has a problem with how tough Merchant is he always has the comfort of his adoring, yes-men ladened hen-house to return to for all the pre-washed and sterilized praise any ego can handle.  Most fans want top athletes to be able to answer the tough questions and to hell with the softballs.  But perhaps I’m only speaking for myself.

  11. "Old Yank" Schneider 05:03pm, 09/20/2011

    Robert—I agree that it is a fighters “instinct” to react.  But there is a difference between reacting in the heat of battle and reacting after time has been called to deduct a point.  Often it only takes a moments pause for an ugly reaction in the heat of battle to be mentally reassessed into a more “mature” (or sportsmanlike) reaction.  Ortiz was WRONG to foul.  If boxing is to become one foul reacted to by another (or by unsportsmanlike conduct), then were does the “right to react” escalation end?  At a full scale riot in the stadium?  Refs are there to CONTROL a bout and to quiet the savage reactions by deducting points so retaliation is no longer necessary.  Boxing is legalized assault—a very thin line exists between craft and incivility.  Some of us “gentlemen” (and I use it loosely because I ain’t necessarily a member), want to preserve craft and keep us advocate not crossing the thin line.  Saturday night’s bout gave appearances of crossing the line.

  12. Robert Ecksel 05:03pm, 09/20/2011

    Because some comments are offensive.

  13. KLM 05:00pm, 09/20/2011

    Why are some of the comments being deleted?

  14. Robert Cassell 04:28pm, 09/20/2011

    Thanks David.

  15. David Matthew 04:00pm, 09/20/2011

    Good points Robert - I’m in agreement.

  16. Robert Cassell 03:58pm, 09/20/2011

    it is very hard for me not to agree with a lot of the points you guys have stated, but let’s not forget how all this started in the first place. A deliberate headbutt to a man’s mouth and all I hear is Cortez was wrong and Floyd is classless.last time I checked this is prize fighting and the prize is to win. I don’t like how it ended either but a fighter instinct is to react. It’s human to react after being fouled and the second guy is the one who always gets the blame. Neither guy went to Harvard or Yale. They are fighters and that’s what they do. Bottom line is Floyd is the best pure boxer in the game and he hit a guy with his guard down that should have had his guard up. People hate Floyd so much they just get blinded in their hatred. I hate the Yankees but I respect the fact that they are very good. That’s all I have to say at this point.

  17. David Matthew 03:21pm, 09/20/2011

    Yank - great points…sobering points - and important points that I largely agree with.  Particularly this:  “Money has never purchased a stitch of class for any man or woman”—my only thing is this:  it is true that traditional definitions of what “class” means have lost their meaning…and many of those traditions you spoke of (being sportmanslike, wearing a jacket to dinner, opening doors for women) are good things - but they are generational customs…If Merchant and elders would reach out to the youth - they would listen more…When Floyd was a young prospect and Merchant started covering him - Merchant could’ve planted diff. seeds and sought to instill some of those worthy traditions in Floyd - no matter how small…instead - it’s an instant rejection and ‘us’ v. ‘them’ mentality….where the youth are just dismissed and condemned - but *never* instructed or bestowed with guidance/wisdom!  The younger generation has an obligation to respect its elders - but the elder has an obligation to instruct and guide…we need them now more than ever.

  18. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:15pm, 09/20/2011

    David—All valid points—every one!  Obviously I’m not on the same page as you on all points, especially point # 3 1/2.  Some of us come from a generation where no matter how rich or poor, you wore a jacket when dining out; you opened doors for women as a habit; and you valued sportsmanship and valor over winning—the notion of “it does not matter if you win or lose but how you play the game”.  And some of us try every day to instill these apparently old-fashioned ideals into the youth around us because we feel them worthy of passing along.  Money has never purchased a stitch of class for any man or woman—class is in one’s carriage as placed there by example.  No one wants or expects perfection of a sport born of seedy dark alleyways from a gas-lit London of old.  In fact, there is a darkness to boxing that is very much a part of its appeal.  But like art, we know it when we see it and classlessness is easily recognized by men who have it in their bones as delivered by examples from men greater than ourselves.  I love you dad—miss you much.

  19. David Matthew 02:55pm, 09/20/2011

    A few points:  1.) I love Harold Lederman and think the world of him - but I think there is a generation gap that is fueling this rift between Floyd and HBO commentators.  They don’t understand Floyd and he doesn’t understand them…and frankly - neither party goes out of their way to understand the other.

    2.) Larry Merchant never has tried to warm-up or understand Mayweather…he always gave Floyd the doubt before the benefit - Floyd was always guilty until innocent with him and even when Floyd has tried to be cordial and friendly with Merchant (see:  Ricky Hatton post-fight intervew) - Merchant looks visibly disgusted at mere sight of Mayweather.  It’s unfair - and it’s not honest journalism.  Mayweather was wrong to blow up like he did - but this has been brewing for some time.

    3.)  Lederman says “Mayweather knew he was going to win”—- anything can happen in boxing and Ortiz was being competitive at spots - and hit Floyd with some decent shots….Floyd was clearly winning but to suggest that he knew he was going to win so he should’ve just waited to knock him goes against a fighter’s instinct & everything boxers are trained to do.  Mayweather showed absolutely no mercy against a naive and unfocused opponent…and it wasn’t pleasant to watch - but this is boxing - a sport where souls/bodies/minds are at risk at every moment.

    4.)  agreed on Cortez.

  20. "Old Yank" Schneider 02:50pm, 09/20/2011

    Cheers to Harold for speaking the TRUTH!  He is the definition of CLASS in boxing.  I’m not at all surprised that he could recognize classlessness when he saw it!

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