by Jenna J & Ruben – I recently had a chance during the 199th edition of “On The Ropes” to speak with former WBO heavyweight champion “Merciless” Ray Mercer. Now retired from ring, Ray has found a new battle and has been fighting it with other former boxing champions in an effort to change the lives of others.
Besides discussing the Find a Dream foundation, Ray Mercer gave his thoughts on boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr, and what he thinks is the blueprint to beat him. Mercer also talked on the current state of the heavyweight division and who he thinks can possibly challenge the Klitschko’s. Additionally Ray gave his views on the importance of having Olympic champions from the US, and talks about how he would like to be remembered by boxing fans. Here is what Ray Mercer had to say.
Jenna J: Ray before I talk to you about what you’re doing now and discuss your career a little bit, I gotta ask you about the big fight that just took place between Mayweather and Canelo. I’m curious, what were your thoughts on it?
Ray Mercer: I thought it went just like I thought it would go. I thought he would just sit outside and just box him. I thought Canelo needed, in order for him to win, he needed to really get in there and do what nobody else did and that’s rough Mayweather up, and he did none of that. Mayweather’s too fast, if you leave him outside he’s gonna pick you apart and that’s what happened.
Jenna: Ok, now do you see anyone out there that could possible beat Mayweather from what you’ve seen?
Mercer: Not from what I’ve seen but I know it’s somebody out there, I means there’s somebody out there. You just have to have the right trainer to train him to go in there and attack, cause that’s what you have to do to beat Mayweather. He’s out there somewhere but I haven’t seen him.
Jenna: Yeah everyone has a theory on how to beat Mayweather, everyone says that they have a blueprint, either work a real hard jab. You as a fighter, how would you go at Mayweather if you were in that weight class, how would you go about beating him?
Mercer: I’d attack him, I’d bum rush him, I would fight him and keep him on the ropes. I would just make him fight a fight that he ain’t used to fighting. That’s how I would fight him, that’s how I fought most of my guys anyway, I had to go in there and make them fight, rough them up and everything. I think that’s what you have to do to beat Mayweather.
Jenna: Now you mention that’s the way you fight, you were named “Merciless” that was your nickname. I gotta ask you Ray, how did you come to have that nickname?
Mercer: My trainer gave it to me after I would beat people up and I never would stop, I would just keep going until somebody stopped me. So he called me “Merciless” it’s a good name.
Jenna: Now to talk just a little bit quickly about that, the fight that I think grabbed everyone’s attention and it wasn’t just you winning the gold medal in 1988. That fight you had with Tommy Morrison, they say it’s probably one of the most brutal KO’s that anyone has ever seen, especially in the heavyweight division. When you look back at it now and I know that Tommy has passed, what do you think about the way that played out at the end?
Mercer: Oh well you know it was a good fight, he was hitting me hard. He came in shape, the guy was hitting me so hard that when I did start hitting him I didn’t wanna stop, and he got tired and I just let it go until the referee pulled me off, one again I was merciless. That’s how I got my name you know.
I got a chance to spend a little time with Tommy, he was opening up a gym, two years ago. He was opening up a gym where he lives and he invited me, Leon Spinks and Earnie Shavers. We were there when the gym opened, so I got a little time with him. He was a nice guy, he’s gone now but he did something we all have to do one day.
Jenna: What are your lasting memories of him as a fighter, why do you think people should remember him as the boxer?
Mercer: He was a great fighter, he was The Great White Hope. We haven’t had one since, Tommy Morrison was it. He was a hard hitter, he was motivated, he fought hard, he was a champion.
Jenna: Now you mentioned The Great White Hope, a lot of people put that one the Klitschkos and then they started picking on them because they’re European fighters. You had a chance to mix it up with Wladimir Klitschko, what do you think of the two headed champions that are the Klitschko brothers?
Mercer: I think they’re great champions, they’re good fighters. They had the best trainer in the world when they came around. Before they had Emanuel Steward, they weren’t doing too well so once again we got another American trainer training European fighters and it’s taking away from our fighters. He[Wladimir Klitschko] was tough guy, a smart guy. It was a good fight, I fought till they stopped it, I think he’s a great champion but I think Tommy’s the real American White Hope.
Jenna: I know exactly what you mean there Ray. A lot of people are looking right now, not just for the White Hope, they’re looking for an American heavyweight champion and they think Deontay Wilder might have a chance to live up to that. Do you see any of that in him?
Mercer: Oh of course, he’s a great fighter and I think he might be our next heavyweight champion and I hope he is. Bring the belt back to the US, that’s what I want to see. I think Deontay Wilder’s a great fighter, he’s got good trainers and I think he’s gonna make it, we’re hoping, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Jenna: They say it’s not just the heavyweight championship they want to bring back to the United Sates, it’s gold medals. Last time we went to the Olympics we got shut out and we haven’t had a gold medalist since I think Andre Ward. You’re a gold medal champion, how important do you think it is for American boxing to have gold medal champions in the sport?
Mercer: I think it’s very important, I think we need to get back to just that, the Olympics. We have to pay more attention to our amateurs and teach our amateurs how to go win and put that hunger back, put the eye of the tiger back in our amateurs, what we had back in my day.
I’m the last American heavyweight to win a gold medal and I wanted to go out there and win one so bad, it’s just pitiful you know. I’m American, we need everything we compete for, I’m always gonna go with the United States of America, I’ve always represented them and that’s what I am. I want to see gold medals, just like the rest of the country.
Jenna: Alright, well Ray lets talk a little about what you’re doing now, can you let the fans know some of the projects you’re working on today?
Mercer: Well I’m with this non-profit organization, Find A Dream, you can check it all out on the web if you go to findadream.org and it tells you everything that I’m doing. I’m getting ready to go out on the 26th, we’re going to LA for the San Gennaro feast, it’s one of the biggest in the world. I’m gonna be honored to be there, we have a booth next to Fiat, they’re one of our sponsors. I’m just doing the Find A Dream thing right now, I make appearances but Find A Dream is part of my project.
Jenna: Ok so can you let the fans know exactly what the Find A Dream organization does right now, what you’re trying to do, I heard it’s to help kids find a direction in their life and stay off the streets. Can you elaborate on that a little?
Mercer: Yeah it’s for the kids to stay off the streets and it’s also for the kids that are on the computer all day, to get them away from the computer, give them something else to do. They have a dream, we try to help them find it, that’s what we do. We specialize in boxing and MMA but we can also help in any kind of thing not just sports but music, school, all of that. We just want to help people find they’re dreams, not just kids, young people. That’s what we’re doing, we’re trying to just help kids.
It’s non-profit, all donations are deductible. So we just want to keep this thing going man and we need help, because you know everything costs. But we’re doing our best to try to make it happen. We’ve turned around kids, we have two gyms, we have one in Myrtle Beach and we have one in Iowa. We have me, Michael Moorer, Buddy McGuirt as trainers and we have MMA fighters as trainers. We’re ready and we’re doing it.
Jenna: Now Ray, how important do you think boxing is to directing peoples lives? How important was it for you?
Mercer: It was very important for me, you know any sport it takes discipline so right off you’re gonna have the discipline part and it’s gonna keep you out of trouble but then to get you something you will grow to love doing, like getting off work and going to the gym everyday, having that be your job, going to the gym that’s all I looked forward to.
It really helps you direct yourself, I mean you’re doing something that you love, it’s gonna take you places that you never thought you would be, which it took me to the Olympics and the world championship. I just loved it and that’s what we’re trying to do for other people, trying to put that spark in their eye and it might change a lot of eyes.
Jenna: Now Ray, what’s the biggest change for you from being a fighter to now being a trainer?
Mercer: It’s a big difference, it’s a lot of pressure off not having to fight you know, cause getting prepared for a fight mentally is the toughest thing. Going to the gym, doing push ups and sparring and all that, that’s easy but you have to get mentally prepared and that right there is where I’m relieved and life is just great for me.
All the pressure’s off my shoulders now. I don’t have to worry about not going fishing or going fishing, if I want to have a beer I can do that. It’s no pressure in fighting now although I gotta keep the same intensity because I’m training other people so I got to stay in touch with them.
Jenna: Ok Ray, I just have a few more questions before I let you off the line. You had a great career, what would you say is the best highlight of it?
Mercer: The best highlight I’d have to say is the gold medal, winning the gold medal, standing on the podium above other countries. Being the world champion, that feeling will never go away, every time I talk about it I get chills, I got chills right now. My mom was there, the whole country was behind me, and I represented our country and I was proud to do that.
Jenna: Alright and when people look back at Ray Mercer, how would you like them to remember you as the fighter?
Mercer: Just remember me as a good, clean, hard fighter. The “Gatekeeper” that’s what they called me because you had to come through me to get a title shot, that’s the way it was at the end of my career. I was a clean fighter, good guy, I have no enemies. Fighting and boxing you don’t have that much stress because you’re hitting something all the time. Boxing is a stressful game but you let it out in the gym, makes us better people when we’re not boxing.
Jenna: And finally Ray, to all the fans out there that did support you throughout your career, the fans that followed you throughout it, anything you want to say to them?
Mercer: Big ups and I appreciate everything and I’m still out there seeing my fans, signing autographs and like I said, I can make appearances, it don’t have to cost you nothing, I do it for the kids. Just look at the website findadream.org and you will find all the information to get in touch with who you need to get in touch with is there. Thank you for the support.
To find out more about the Find a Dream foundation please visit: