by James Slater – Nicknamed “Merciless” due to the manner in which he shows no opponent any compassion whatsoever when he’s in the ring with them, Ray Mercer should actually be known by another moniker these days. Still fighting at age 47 and after a nineteen year pro career that began way back in February of 1989, the former WBO heavyweight champion should be nicknamed “Relentless” Ray Mercer or “Persistent” Ray Mercer or “Obstinate” Ray Mercer. Quite simply, the guy won’t quit!
Still a durable fighter, who has only been stopped on two occasions in well over forty fights, Mercer last boxed in January of this year. On that occasion he was out-pointed over 12 rounds by the raw Derric Rossy, a fighter who, no disrespect intended, would never have beaten a decade younger version of “Merciless.” But that loss did not convince Ray to call it quits on his long career. Set to fight again on September 5th in Sweden and against “The Dutch Sonny Liston,” Richel Hersisia, the 47-year-old will box in a scheduled 6X 2 minute rounds.
Hersisia, 30-2(24), is no spring chicken himself at age 34, and he is probably best known for his 4th round KO loss to Audley Harrison a few years back. In taking on today’s version of Mercer, the Dutch heavyweight clearly feels Mercer is no longer beyond him – as he no doubt would have been had he been in his prime. Hersisia sees a still big name that he can beat, and he’s going to try and pick up his biggest career win. He may well be successful.
Mercer, who has taken to boxing abroad just lately (his last fight was in China and he’s boxed in both Sweden and Denmark in recent years), has not won a meaningful fight for some time. Neither has he met an easily recognisable name in the past few years. You have to go right back to 1996, and Mercer’s win over Tim Witherspoon for his last good win, and you have to go back to 2005, and Mercer’s 7th round KO loss to Shannon Briggs for his last name opponent. Ray had won four in a row going into the fight with Briggs, wins that had followed his other KO defeat, this one in 6 rounds, and to Wladimir Klitschko.
So why is the former Olympian and world champion going on when approaching the age of 50? Only Mercer himself can adequately answer that question, but to be fair, Ray hasn’t really taken a whole lot of punishment in his career – at least in terms of number of bouts fought. He’s been going for nearly twenty years, yes, but 43 fights spread over that amount of time isn’t that many. However, on the flip side, Briggs beat him up, as did Klitschko, and Mercer also had notably tough fights with Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Tommy Morrison, Larry Holmes and Bert Cooper. Indeed, Ray always was a fighter whose best asset was his rock chin.
Still in possession of a decent chin today, Mercer obviously feels he is in no danger in carrying on fighting. Who knows, he may beat Hersisia next week. After all, “A-Force” KO’d the 34-year-old. But what then for “Merciless” if he does emerge victorious? Like I say, the guy simply won’t quit. If he gets himself a win, only his second in over three years, Mercer may well feel encouraged to go on forever! A likeable guy, it’s hard not to root for Ray. But in all honesty, he should have hung ’em up a long, long time ago.
Ray Mercer, 35-7-1(26) – the heavyweight who won’t go away!