Raymond Anthony Mercer (born April 4, 1961) is a retired American professional boxer, kickboxer, and mixed martial artist who competed from 1989 to 2009. Best known for his boxing career, Mercer won a heavyweight gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics as an amateur, and later held the WBO heavyweight title from 1991 to 1992 as a professional. Boxrec ranks him as the world's No.9 heavyweight of 1990. As a mixed martial artist, he scored a notable first-round knockout win over former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in 2009.
|Born||Raymond Anthony Mercer|
April 4, 1961
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Reach||77 in (196 cm)|
|Professional boxing record|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Boxing record from BoxRec|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
last updated on: October 18, 2016
As a kid I was a little hardheaded. I had a tough time in school until my father, Raymond, he was a mechanic in the military, got me straight. When he was in the field, whether at Fort Benning, Georgia, or in Germany, I'd take advantage of my mother and act up. My father tried to get me to play some kind of sports. I was negative. Team sports wasn't in my blood. I'd come home and play Go-Karts or shoot BB guns or ride choppers. With my father, I was fishing by the age of nine and hunting by fourteen. We'd go for deer, rabbit and squirrel at Fort Benning. My father had a good life in the military. I figured I'd do the same. I wanted to go back to Germany. I liked it over there.— —Ray Mercer on his childhood.
Mercer played linebacker at high school in Hanau, didn't plan to go for a college education. After graduating from Richmond County Military Academy in Augusta, Georgia, he coasted for a year before enlisting in the Army.
Amateur boxing careerEdit
Mercer started boxing at the age of 23 while serving in the U.S. Army in West Germany. Mercer said he had never even put on a pair of gloves until after he enlisted, "The Army taught me everything I know about boxing," explained Mercer. While he had street fights as a youth, it wasn't until he was offered a chance to avoid a 30-day field exercise by serving as a sparring partner for the post's heavyweight champion, which in winter of 1984, with the wind-chill factor driving temperatures below zero, was quite an opportunity, that he found a sanctioned way to use his aggression. The beginnings were tough, "I came back from that first day of sparring with a bleeding nose and my lips swollen. For two months I got pounded. But then it became a challenge. I'm not a quitter. I figured the other guy learned the moves, so could I." He learned quickly enough, winning military titles and a United States Amateur Boxing Federation title. He became 1985 U.S. Army and inter-service heavyweight champion, along with Wesley Watson, who was inter-service superheavyweight champion (Mercer later beat Watson in professionals). But in 1985, when Army Coach Hank Johnson sought to recruit Mercer for a stateside training camp for the 1988 Olympics, Mercer turned down the offer. "I was in my prime at partying. The training was not a sacrifice I wanted to make. I told Hank, you won't see me until the Olympics", he said. He first boxed in organized competition in 1983 at Schweinfurt, West Germany. He won a battalion box-off and then won the brigade championship. "After that, I won the VII Corps novice and open championships and was runner-up at U.S. Army, Europe," Mercer said. When he was reassigned to Baumholder, he won three USAREUR crowns while carrying the banner for V Corps (he won the USAREUR Championship less than a year after his first amateur fight.) As he served with USAREUR, for that reason in 1986—1987 Mercer had several international bouts in Germany, he also competed internationally at Western Europe open tournaments. In summer of 1988 he again won the inter-service heavyweight championship. His next step was to apply for the all-Army boxing trial camp and win a spot on the Army team. "Right now, I want to be the 'woodwork' man. I'm 26 years old and relatively unknown. My plans are to stay healthy, and I need to do well in international competition prior to the Olympics to build confidence."
He won the 1988 United States amateur heavyweight championship. At the USA vs. Cuba match-up, Mercer twice staggered Félix Savón, but was impeded from doing further damage by questionable intervention by the Cuban referee, Alfredo Toledo. At the USA vs. Europe match-up, Mercer with a hard right to the nose turned it into a "No mas!" fight for Yugoslavian Željko Mavrović.
Going to the Olympic Team, he was one of the most highly regarded American Olympic boxers. Of all the U.S. 1988 Olympians, Angelo Dundee, a legendary trainer, chose Ray Mercer and Andrew Maynard, as the most likely to develop into world champions after they would have turned into professionals: "Mercer's 27, but that's not too old. The maturity is there. And the punch. Give him 10 fights as a pro and he'd be ready to start moving up," Dundee said on Mercer's potential as a pro. According to Kelvin Richardson of the '88 All-Army Team, Mercer was such a hard puncher, that even 16-ounce gloves weren't of much help for his sparring partners from being knocked off the ring, and his superheavyweight Olympic teammate, Riddick Bowe, didn't want to spar with Mercer for that reason.
Before one of Maynard's fights, Mercer and Anthony Hembrick took off with their flags and good-naturedly dodged the people who tried to get in their way. A few tried to trip the pair, another tried to tackle the heavyweight Mercer, and one security guard even stopped him and tried to steer him back to his seat. Mercer would have none of it. "He didn't speak English, and I don't speak Korean, so he talked his stuff and I talked mine. I don't think we connected, so I just kept on going." said Mercer. Soldiers from his unit back in Germany was rooting for him. Right before the Olympics they made a large banner with everyone's signature on it and shipped it overnight to Seoul. "They've been a big part of my support, and a gold medal would mean almost as much to them as it would to me. That banner really picked me up. I'm fighting for the people of the United States, but especially for the ones back in my unit," he told his audience during one of his post-fight interviews.
Mercer knocked out all four of his Olympic opponents, winning Gold of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as a heavyweight. When asked if he thought he needed to stop the South Korean in order to win the gold medal, he replied: "Definitely. Or I'll make him wish he was knocked out. One of the two." He was the oldest member of the United States Olympic Boxing Team at 27.
USAREUR Boxing Championships (heavyweight), Darmstadt, West Germany, May 1985:
USA–USSR Duals (heavyweight), Troy, New York, October 1985:
United States Armed Forces Championships (heavyweight), Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, November 1985:
Stockholm Box Open (heavyweight), Stockholm, Sweden, January 1986:
USA–FRG Duals (heavyweight), West Berlin, West Germany, July 1987:
USA–FRG & Austria Duals (heavyweight), Neuhausen, West Germany, July 1987:
Copenhagen Cup (heavyweight), Copenhagen, Denmark, December 1987:
Summer Olympics (heavyweight), Seoul, South Korea, September–October 1988:
Mercer had a total of 70 fights as an amateur, competing all his amateur career in the 201-pound class, and compiling an amateur record of 64 wins, 6 losses (no stoppages.) Upon winning the Olympic Gold Medal, Mercer was approached by boxing promoter Bob Arum, to whom he signed a contract to turn professional. Under the deal, he was to be trained in Las Vegas, Nevada, under Hank Johnson of Fort Bragg, who was the All-Army Coach, and the assistant Olympic coach. Also under the deal, Arum got the rights to promote a certain number of televised bouts, leaving the boxer free to fight for others.
Upon winning the 1988 Olympics he was named Armed Forces Athlete of the Year in November 1988 (which was quite an achievement, considering that the Army branch alone produced 19 Olympians in 1988.) In January 1989, being honorary discharged, Mercer left the Army to pursue a professional boxing career.
Professional boxing careerEdit
Mercer turned pro in January 1989 and debuted with a 3rd TKO of Jesse Hughes. He scored a series of knockouts and in August 1990 knocked down and outpointed big punching Smokin' Bert Cooper in a spectacular 12 round brawl that earned him Cooper's NABF title. In January 1991 he challenged undefeated Francesco Damiani for the WBO heavyweight title, scoring a one punch knockout victory in the 9th when behind on points. Later that year he beat undefeated puncher Tommy Morrison in five, and with a major world title fight on the horizon vacated his WBO belt and fought 42-year-old legend Larry Holmes rather than mandatory challenger Michael Moorer. It proved an unwise decision, as the crafty Holmes conned Mercer out of the fight, outjabbing the puzzled Mercer and gaining both the points decision, and Mercer's world title fight with heavyweight king Evander Holyfield.
Having split fights with dangerous veteran Jesse Ferguson (Mercer was investigated for allegedly asking Ferguson to "throw the fight" during their first encounter), labored when overweight to a draw with trialhorse Marion Wilson, and saw a proposed 1994 bout in Hong Kong with Frank Bruno fall through, Mercer enjoyed an unexpected run of form in major fights, losing on points in a thrilling brawl with Holyfield in May 1995, losing a controversial decision in another wild punch up, this time with Lennox Lewis, in June 1996, and scoring a controversial points win over ex-champ Tim Witherspoon in yet another high action bout in December 1996. In the frame for a bout with Andrew Golota in 1997, Mercer suffered a neck injury and was out of action for 14 months. He returned February 1998 with a 2-round KO of Leo Loiacono, but contracted Hepatitis B and was again inactive, this time for 20 months.
In February 2001 a 39-year-old Mercer launched a final comeback, knocking out four journeymen before being matched with WBO title holder Wladimir Klitschko in a high-profile bout on HBO. Once famed for his incredible iron chin, Mercer looked his age and was knocked down in the first and stopped in the 6th. A brief dalliance in the mixed martial arts nixed a 2004 bout with DaVarryl Williamson. However, Mercer did return to boxing in 2005, now aged 44, but he was stopped in seven rounds by Shannon Briggs.
Continuing to seek a fighting career, Mercer opted to travel to Japan and challenged Musashi in the kickboxing combat sport K-1 on June 6, 2004. Mercer held a reasonable account of himself, but his age and inability to successfully defend kicks was evident as he went on to lose the bout via unanimous decision. On March 19, 2005, he had one more K-1 bout against Remy Bonjasky, to whom he lost via verbal submission. The first and only strike of the night, a head kick, landed square on the head of Mercer. It wasn't your typical fight; Mercer took the head kick and then quit the fight.. As Mercer put it, "I got the shit kicked out of me". 
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
After a series of scheduled boxing matchups fell through (including a proposed bout against former champion Hasim Rahman), Mercer decided to try mixed martial arts (MMA) and approached Felix Martinez, co-founder of Cage Fury Fighting Championships, about working with the promotion. On March 21, 2007, Cage Fury announced that Mercer had signed to face underground street fighter and Internet legend Kimbo Slice at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall on June 23, 2007, as part of Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5. The bout was a non-sanctioned exhibition under the New Jersey Unified MMA rules.
Kimbo Slice won the fight in the first round with a guillotine choke submission. Mercer later stated in the press conference at Adrenaline III: Bragging Rights, when he was scheduled to fight Tim Sylvia under MMA rules instead of Boxing rules, that he had expected Kimbo Slice to box with him, and said that he did not really train in any other aspect of MMA and was unprepared for the guillotine choke.
On June 13, 2009, Mercer made a big splash when he defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at Adrenaline III: Bragging Rights. He won the fight via knockout in 9 seconds with a huge right hand to the chin, becoming the first man to ever defeat Sylvia by knockout.
Professional boxing recordEdit
|44 fights||36 wins||7 losses|
|44||Win||36–7–1||Richel Hersisia||MD||6||Sep 5, 2008||Nöjesfabriken, Karlstad, Sweden|
|43||Loss||35–7–1||Derric Rossy||UD||12||Jan 26, 2008||Venetian Arena, Macau, SAR||For vacant WBC–ABCO, WBF International, and WBO–NABO interim heavyweight titles|
|42||Win||35–6–1||Mikael Lindblad||KO||1, 1:50||Sep 15, 2007||Löfbergs Arena, Karlstad, Sweden|
|41||Loss||34–6–1||Shannon Briggs||KO||7 (10), 0:41||Aug 26, 2005||Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.|
|40||Win||34–5–1||Darroll Wilson||UD||10||Jun 24, 2005||Nikki Beach Concert Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|39||Win||33–5–1||Steve Pannell||TKO||3 (10), 0:50||Feb 28, 2004||Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Florida, U.S.|
|38||Win||32–5–1||Shawn Robinson||TKO||3 (10), 1:49||Nov 11, 2003||Caesars, Elizabeth, Indiana, U.S.|
|37||Win||31–5–1||Mario Cawley||KO||3 (10), 1:08||Aug 23, 2003||Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Florida, U.S.|
|36||Loss||30–5–1||Wladimir Klitschko||TKO||6 (12), 1:08||Jun 29, 2002||Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||For WBO heavyweight title|
|35||Win||30–4–1||Troy Weida||TKO||1 (10), 0:28||Feb 23, 2002||Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|34||Win||29–4–1||Brian Scott||KO||2 (10), 0:57||Oct 13, 2001||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark|
|33||Win||28–4–1||Don Steele||KO||5 (10), 3:00||Mar 17, 2001||Silver Star Hotel & Casino, Choctaw, Mississippi, U.S.|
|32||Win||27–4–1||Jeff Pegues||TKO||2 (10), 2:59||Feb 11, 2001||Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, Illinois, U.S.|
|31||Win||26–4–1||Jimmy Haynes||KO||1 (10), 0:43||Dec 18, 1999||Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.|
|30||Win||25–4–1||Leo Loiacono||KO||2 (10), 0:46||Feb 21, 1998||Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, Miami, Florida, U.S.|
|29||Win||24–4–1||Tim Witherspoon||UD||10||Dec 14, 1996||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|28||Loss||23–4–1||Lennox Lewis||MD||10||May 10, 1996||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|27||Loss||23–3–1||Evander Holyfield||UD||10||May 20, 1995||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|26||Draw||23–2–1||Marion Wilson||SD||10||Jul 28, 1994||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|25||Win||23–2||Jesse Ferguson||SD||10||Nov 19, 1993||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|24||Win||22–2||Mark Wills||UD||10||Oct 6, 1993||Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|23||Win||21–2||Tony Willis||TKO||1 (10), 2:11||Aug 12, 1993||Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.|
|22||Loss||20–2||Jesse Ferguson||UD||10||Feb 6, 1993||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|21||Win||20–1||Jerry Halstead||RTD||2 (12), 3:00||Dec 10, 1992||Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|20||Win||19–1||Mike Dixon||RTD||7 (10), 3:00||Oct 7, 1992||County Center, Augusta, Georgia, U.S.|
|19||Loss||18–1||Larry Holmes||UD||12||Feb 7, 1992||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|18||Win||18–0||Tommy Morrison||TKO||5 (12), 0:28||Oct 18, 1991||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Retained WBO heavyweight title|
|17||Win||17–0||Francesco Damiani||KO||9 (12), 2:47||Jan 11, 1991||Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Won WBO heavyweight title|
|16||Win||16–0||Bert Cooper||UD||12||Aug 5, 1990||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Won NABF heavyweight title|
|15||Win||15–0||Lionel Washington||TKO||4 (10), 1:59||May 31, 1990||Community War Memorial, Rochester, New York, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Kimmuel Odum||UD||12||Mar 2, 1990||Hacienda, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Won vacant IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight title|
|13||Win||13–0||Wesley Watson||TKO||5 (10), 0:44||Jan 15, 1990||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Ossie Ocasio||SD||8||Dec 7, 1989||The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Jerry Jones||UD||8||Nov 14, 1989||South Mountain Arena, West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Eddie Richardson||TKO||1 (8), 2:16||Oct 17, 1989||State Fairgrounds, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Arthel Lawhorne||TKO||2 (10), 1:05||Sep 19, 1989||Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Dino Homsey||TKO||1 (8), 1:58||Sep 5, 1989||Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Tracy Thomas||KO||1 (6), 2:09||Aug 15, 1989||South Mountain Arena, West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||Al Evans||TKO||1 (6), 2:55||Jul 15, 1989||Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Ken Crosby||KO||1 (6), 2:45||Jun 12, 1989||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||David Hopkins||KO||1 (4), 1:07||May 16, 1989||Tyndall Armory, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Garing Lane||UD||4||Mar 28, 1989||Showboat Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Luis Walford||KO||1||Mar 4, 1989||Civic Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Jesse McGhee||TKO||3 (4), 0:30||Feb 24, 1989||Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|March 15, 2005||Loss||0–2||Remy Bonjasky||K-1 World Grand Prix 2005 in Seoul||TKO (Right High Kick)||1||0:22||Seoul, South Korea|
|June 6, 2004||Loss||0–1||Musashi||K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Nagoya||Decision (Unanimous)||3||3:00||Nagoya, Japan|
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|1 match||1 win||0 losses|
|Win||1–0||Tim Sylvia||KO (punch)||Adrenaline MMA 3: Bragging Rights||June 13, 2009||1||0:09||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Loss||0–1||Kimbo Slice||Submission (guillotine choke)||Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5||June 23, 2007||1||1:12||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
- "BoxRec's Annual Ratings: Heavyweight Annuals". BoxRec. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
- Berger, Phil (October 17, 1991). "Neither Mercer Nor Morrison Set Out to Make His Living in the Ring". The New York Times. p. 14. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Rogers, David R.; Dove, Billy (September 1988). "Soldiers Vie For Olympics". Soldiers. 43 (9): 46. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- "Army Olympic Update". Army. 38 (11): 71. November 1988. ISSN 0004-2455. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Three Gold Medals". Soldiers. 44 (1): 17. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Garrett, George (March 1986). "Army Boxers Win National Title". Soldiers. 41 (3): 51. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Garcia, Elroy (June 1993). "All-Army Athletes". Soldiers. 44 (6): 37–38. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
- Army News Service (June 1988). "Army Takes 10 Titles". Soldiers. 43 (6): 55. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- "Mercer Just May Be Sowing the Seeds for a High-Paying Career". Los Angeles Times. September 29, 1988.
- Berger, Phil (May 1, 1988). "U.S. Outslugged By Cuban Boxers". The New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Berger, Phil (June 6, 1988). "Rout For Americans". The New York Times. p. 11. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Anderson, Dave (September 17, 1988). "Coach Calls U.S. a Contender". The New York Times. p. 48. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Anderson, Dave (October 2, 1988). "Green to Gold, Now Green Again". The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- RAY MERCER and RIDDICK BOWE HAD VIOLENT SPARRING SESSIONS- KELVIN “BIG DAWG” RICHARDSON
- Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Seoul Olympics: The Army Story". Soldiers. 44 (1): 17–19. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Anderson, Dave (September 29, 1988). "3 Americans Reach Finals". The New York Times. p. 18. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Anderson, Dave (October 1, 1988). "Mercer Stops South Korean". The New York Times. p. 47. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- AP (October 16, 1988). "Theories on Boxing". The New York Times. p. 10. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Army Olympic Athletes". Soldiers. 44 (1): 21. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Armed Forces Sports Office (February 1989). "Ray Mercer Named Athlete of Year". Soldiers. 44 (2): 3. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- "Freak Show or Convert? Kimbo Slice Interview". MMAWeekly. June 22, 2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
- "Ray Mercer Returns to Fight Undefeated Ron Sparks". MMAFighting.com. March 12, 2010.