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Merchant of trends

Dec 10, 2002 2:13 AM

   Larry Merchant is known for his 25 years of commentary for HBO boxing events, but the former New York Post columnist once dabbled into the football gaming business.

   Merchant discussed his 1970s “National Football Lottery Book” during an interview last week at Mandalay Bay with former GamingToday contributor Papa Joe Chevalier. Any bit of information to help bettors beat the house will definitely be passed on here, because that’s what all of us hope to do each weekend.

   “One of the things I used to try to imagine was what kind of advantage or disadvantage one team has over another,” Merchant stated on Chevalier’s nationally-aired radio show. I had no method, but I did follow certain rules.”

   Merchant offered two that certainly makes sense in formulating a winning strategy.

   a) Never bet on a bad team to help you win money.

   b) Never give more than seven points.

   “A bad team will screw you up every time,” he said. “Too often at the end of a game, teams up by 10 or 13 points are playing the clock. They don’t care about giving up another TD so long as it consumes the clock. Often it consumes the bettor.”

   Merchant said he won about $17,000 with his research, but said he had to put so much time into the project that he felt unable to sit back and pick a winner unless it was for fun.

   “I was fearful,” he said. “At one time in the pre-history of NFL, if helped if you could find out information nobody knew. Now, the NFL has caught on. They put all the information out there. Judgment and especially money management are the best ways of coming out ahead.”

   In other words, show caution and don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.


   The future of boxing?

   Merchant suggested that last Saturday night’s WBO heavyweight title matchup between champion Vladimir Klitschko and No. 1 contender Jameel McCline might be the most important fight for the future of the heavyweight division.

   If that was the case, the sport is in deep trouble.

   Klitschko dominated the fight against McCline, who sadly decided the best way to survive was not punch. Alas, he did not survive the full 12 rounds.

   As for Klitschko he is 26, an Olympic gold medallist and the best heavyweight this side of Lennox Lewis. Whether he fights Lewis anytime soon will be determined when his older brother Vitaly takes on the conqueror of Mike Tyson.

   The other co-main event featuring Floyd Mayweather and Jose Luis Castillo turned out to be a bore. But, then most rematches are.

   Mayweather won a unanimous 12-round decision with nobody questioning the outcome this time. However, the big HBO card was a huge disappointment to watch.

   Important fight for the future of the heavyweight division and maybe even the immediate future of boxing in some time.