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Freddie Gray Death Ruled Homicide, Officers Charged; Critics Slam Baltimore Mom's Epic Smackdown; Interview With Rep. Bobby Rush; It's a Girl! Kate and William Announce Baby's Arrival; Mayweather & Pacquiao Ready to Rumble. Aired 9-10a ET.

Aired May 2, 2015 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Smerconish" is starting for you right now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Welcome to the program.

I'm in Baltimore where for the first time in weeks people in this city - they're celebrating, saying justice has been served after the surprise announcement from the state attorney, that six officers have been charged in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

It's been nearly three weeks since Gray was tossed in the back of a police van and that's where the state prosecutor says he suffered those fatal injuries. Investigators deemed his arrest illegal and his death a homicide.

Four of the six officers are charged with manslaughter among other charges. But the driver of the police van faces the most serious charge, second degree murder. Joining me now is "Baltimore Sun" reporter Justin Fenton.

Justin, here it is. The front page of today's "Baltimore Sun" including your byline. The question I wanted to ask, were you as floored by the rest of the country about those charges having been brought yesterday?

JUSTIN FENTON, "BALTIMORE SUN" REPORTER: Absolutely. Everything about yesterday's announcement was surprising. There's become an expectation that these kinds of cases that takes months, they're very deliberately gather the evidence and they can take up to three months.

The police department has said in an aggressive timetable, two weeks. Some said it was an artificial timetable. Some of the even the preliminary work wouldn't be done by then and he state's attorney herself has said "I'm not going to be bound to the police timetable" and yet on the same day that police said they were going to wrap their investigation, she announced charges against all six officers which in and of itself is something that we have not seen before in these type of cases.

SMERCONISH: She did not allege it was a deliberate rough ride. FENTON: There's still a lot unknown about what the allegations are. I

feel like we still don't know how Mr. Gray died, what caused it. But she's saying that the negligence of the officers is certainly the cause of the death and she went with high level charges. Manslaughter, murder. She also applied some of our constitutional statutes about false imprisonment.

SMERCONISH: Eighth amendment.

FENTON: Yes. You know, there's a veteran attorney in town, Dwight (INAUDIBLE). He's been around a long time and seen a lot of these case, he says he's never seen that before in Maryland.

SMERCONISH: And it also struck me that she said that the initial arrest should not have been made but thereafter in the sequence of events this is largely a case about what police did not do as compared to a case of what they did do.

In other words, they didn't belt him in. They didn't respond when he made pleas for medical assistance.

FENTON: Yes. She's alleging that negligence rises to criminal negligence, that they caused this death. For all six to be charged I think was definitely a shock. I think the rumblings out of the police department prior to this were there we might see minor charges against a few of the officers. We see all six charges are very serious offenses.

SMERCONISH: The response, of course, from the FOP is to say among other things, "hey, that edict relative to belting a suspect in in the back of a police van, brand new. And word might not have filtered down to rank and file law enforcement. Have you done any reporting or has the "Sun" done any reporting on that particular issue?

FENTON: I think there's an expectation in the police department that when protocols are broken that will be handled internally. I think that's where a lot of the shock on the police end is coming from. And again, they feel like this is a rushed case because they haven't seen charges brought this quickly. So I think there's a major shock wave going through the police department. But I think that's what Ms. Mosby was going for. I think she wanted to send a message in this case and to officers across the country.

SMERCONISH: You have a lot of new followers on twitter. I'm one of them. You tweeted this week, "17 shots, six fatally in non-protests since the arrival of the guard."

FENTON: Yes, you know, I'm a crime reporter in Baltimore. I cover crime wherever it happens. I've been struck by the fact that there's so much attention on the protesters, so much attention on city hall on our inner harbor, and away from this with all of these thousands of troops in the city, our gun violence has spiked. It's not - the police department has had press conferences saying there's no protest related violence.

Well, we had protests related to Ferguson, related to other incidents throughout this city with massive numbers of people. They have always been peaceful. I think what we saw Monday was something else. That was not protest related. That was a very unique organic situation. And again, meanwhile, away from all of this, we've seen more than six people killed.

SMERCONISH: Final question. Is the presence of law enforcement at this stage of the National Guard doing more harm than good to this community? Do you think that they serve as a magnet for individuals who want to come, want to protest and in some circumstances want to take it in an ugly direction?

FENTON: That's been real point of controversy with residents. I think what we've seen is calm. Some would say it's calm because they're here. Others say they are not necessary. Things are going well. This is not unnecessary. This curfew is a major point of contention.

SMERCONISH: With a ripple effect. Listen, I went to dinner last night. I was the only person in a restaurant that otherwise would have been bustling and it's then that it hit me the ripple effect on businesses in this community has been enormous.

FENTON: Yes. We opened a casino in the fall, a 24-hour casino. It closed for the first time once this curfew started. There's a very popular bar in Fells Point neighborhood that said their business is down 95 percent.

[09:05:06] SMERCONISH: What a shame.

FENTON: Throughout the city people are very, very upset about the curfew and questioning whether it's necessary.

SMERCONISH: Justin, thank you so much. Great job on the reporting and great job by the "Sun," as a matter of fact.

Let me bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara. Mark, how would you defend these cops if you were asked to do so?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, with the premise that it's like planning a surgery when you don't have the blood test or the x-rays. One thing that we're going to look at is to say that these cops were simply doing their job, they may not have done it very well but they were doing their job.

As you mentioned a moment ago, what they are going to be - what they're being charged with is not doing something. That's a much more difficult standard for the prosecutor to present. Now, I think she was very aggressive in the way she - how quickly she did this and also the charges she filed, particularly the one against the driver.

I think that she has shown us one or two of her deck of cards, but there's got to be some information in there that tells us or will tell us more about the driving pattern. Because to separate him out from the rest of the group and their negligent behavior by not providing care, not doing what they should have as caregivers, the driver stands alone with this most serious charge. It's got to be because he was in control of the vehicle. I think we're going to find out about the driving pattern from GPS data and what not as the days progress.

SMERCONISH: Mark, just steps from where I'm standing now across the public green is where Marilyn Mosby yesterday announced these charges. She said these words. "To the people of Baltimore I've heard your call of no justice, no peace." I would think that a defense attorney such as yourself, a skilled defense attorney like Mark O'Mara, would seize upon those words and say, "you're following the public sentiment, not necessarily the evidence." Your thought?

O'MARA: Exactly right. Here's the problem. She is not allowed to, she is not supposed to be prosecuting individuals because of the social ill. And she's got to be very careful what line she - or the tightrope that she's on. She has now made herself a national spokesperson for the inequities in the criminal justice system. That's OK.

But as to these six individuals, she stands up in front of a public camera and says, "I will prosecute these people on behalf of the injustices" and she's looking at potential recusal. She's certainly looking at arguments that she's doing it for reasons outside of a particular application of criminal law. So she needs to be very, very careful about the balance she's running.

SMERCONISH: You represented George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. In that case many legal experts from the outside looking in said there was overcharging in that circumstance. Was there overcharging in this case as far as you can determine today?

O'MARA: Well, you know, in the Zimmerman case I think the prosecutor, I and other people, believe that she overcharged it to sort of quell the concerns that she had with the African-American community and because it was an election year. That turned out to be true. In this case I think the prosecutor took a very aggressive stance in charging six cops.

Now, look at it from the outside. She said six out of six cops of guilty of a crime. That's extraordinary. And to do that, I think, is a true statement. She needs to be very careful. I think she's allowed to be aggressive in her prosecution. That's what she's done. She's given herself a lot of room to negotiate with some of the lesser charged, even maybe for the most serious charged individual to plea him down.

But it is, again, a very delicate balance. These are the most aggressive charges in the quickest time I ever could have considered.

SMERCONISH: Do you think that really the objective at this stage from Marilyn Mosby is to get them to turn on one another? We have a tendency I think from the outside looking in to think that these six individuals, these six police officers know each other well and work with one another on a day to day basis. That might not be the case.

O'MARA: My understanding is it's, in fact, not the case. If there is, they're not part of some particular squad. And, yes, prosecutors - I was a prosecutor for a couple of years. It is in our quiver to take one co-defendant or a couple of co-defendants to testify against the others. So you charge everything you possibly can, separate them out.

Don't forget these are going to be six separate trials most likely because the co-defendants are at some point going to start blaming each other rather than themselves. So what she's going to do is divide and attempt to conquer by having a couple of those lesser charged co- defendants thrown in.

Because one thing we don't have yet is a witness saying exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. And that can come literally from the mouth of one or two of the cops who were there.

SMERCONISH: Mark O'Mara, thank you, as always.

Coming up, so much more to get to on all of this. The video of the Baltimore mother dragging her son out of the riots has become an iconic image of the unrest. She's even being called a hero. But not everybody is praising her actions. I'll speak to one journalist who says we shouldn't be celebrating the beating of a black child.

[09:10:12] Plus, royal baby watch finally over.

Prince William and Kate have welcomed a baby girl. We'll head to London for all the details.

And two of boxing's biggest superstars are getting ready to duke it out on the ring tonight. We'll preview the big matchup between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Larry Merchant will join me.


SMERCONISH: Welcome back. The aftermath of Freddie Gray's death and several incidents like it highlight the issue of mass incarceration in this country. The numbers are staggering. Last week economist Justin Wolfers was here explaining that 1.5 million African-American men are missing from daily life either due to premature death or incarceration. This week Hillary Clinton called for a major overhaul in the prison system pleading for change.


HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we talk about 1.5 million missing African-American men, we're talking about missing husbands, missing fathers, missing brothers. They're not there to look after their children or to bring home a paycheck. And the consequences are profound.

[09:15:08] It's time to change our approach. It's time to end the era of mass incarceration. We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe.


SMERCONISH: While some are pushing for less incarceration, others say that the move will only lead to more crime.

Joining me now is author Heather MacDonald. This week she wrote a piece for the New York Post. It was titled "The Perilous New Push to Excuse Lawlessness." In it she says "the criminal justice pendulum is swinging against personal responsibility and toward the use of race and poverty as an excuse for noncompliance with the law." Heather joins me now.

Heather, you know it's been banding about this week that we have five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prison population. Should we be proud or embarrassed of that statistic?

HEATHER MACDONALD, AUTHOR: Well, we should obviously not be proud but we should be most concerned about the law abiding residents in poor communities that need the police, that are victimized by crime at rates that are much higher than in major cities in the rest of the world.

What we're seeing now is that every police killing, the highly publicized police killings over the last nine months have been leveraged to argue for depolicing, for less enforcement, in areas that have a disparate impact on blacks. That is going to hurt the very people whom the advocates purport to represent.

I can't go to a police community meeting in Harlem or the South Bronx and not hear requests like the following - we want the dealers off the corner, you arrest them and they're back the next day. There's kids hanging out on my stoop smoking marijuana. Why can't you arrest them for loitering. I met an elderly cancer amputee in the Mt. Hope section of the Bronx who were terrified to go into her lobby to pick up her mail because of the youth hanging out there trespassing. She said, "please, Jesus, send more police." The only time she felt safe was when the police were there.

There's a very, very bad history of policing and racism in this country that is our shame, something that we will never get over. Police were instrumental in maintaining Jim Crow and slavery. And every act of police brutality is a travesty, a miscarriage of justice and we need to be vigilant against police abuse.

But the bigger problem facing the inner city today is black crime. We could get rid of every use of force tomorrow both justified and unjustified and we would have almost no impact on the black death by homicide rate because the black homicide rate is so high.

SMERCONISH: 1.5 million African-American men, 25 to 54 in this country missing, either dead prematurely or incarcerated. In the city where I stand now, that figure is 19,000. The ripple effect of having so many behind bars means that the children of those 19,000 are being raised without a dad in the house.

MACDONALD: The people - it's - I think it's incorrect to blame imprisonment for that. The fact is is that parents are not being responsible for their children to begin with. And what is liberated cities like New York City is proactive policing that has gotten criminals off the streets and has allowed the law-abiding residents to flourish, to go outside at night, to be able to go to the store and get their groceries, not have to worry about being mugged. The fact is is that the people in prison today are there overwhelmingly for violent crimes and property crimes. And it's a very -- prison remains today a lifetime achievement award for persistence in criminal offending. You know, it's very hard to get a prosecutor to actually bring felony charges and go forward with a case.

Again, it's the people that want to follow the law, that are most hurt when the police are unfairly demonized. This isn't to justify police brutality. But there's people who need the police and inevitably want more police in their communities because they see that they are the line against anarchy.

SMERCONISH: Heather, this week I know you know this, the Brennan Center for Justice released a book. It's a book of essays that I'm holding in my hand. Essays from the likes of President Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio. It's hard to tell the Rs from the Ds because all of them seem to be striking a similar cord of talking about the need for less incarceration.

[09:20:08] I have less than 30 seconds, here's the question for you, is 2016 going to be the year where candidates run on platforms where they are soft on crime?

MACDONALD: It well may be. And I think that is, again, putting at risk the very feel people who need the police most and who want more policing. If there's - I have yet to see an example of racist, criminal justice system. The fact is criminologists have been looking for instances of racism for years and they can't find it.

People are going to prison because they commit crimes. The real issue is, let's get the black family and all families back together again so kids can be raised by their fathers. That will bring the crime rate and the prison rate down.

SMERCONISH: Heather MacDonald, thank you.

MACDONALD: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, the Baltimore mom who has been seen everywhere hitting her son in the midst of the riots sparking major backlash for her actions. Some people are calling her a hero. We'll get both sides of that debate.

And she's here. The royal family welcomes a baby girl. We'll take you to London for the very latest.


SMERCONISH: Welcome back. By now you've seen the video of the angry mother smacking her son who was rioting in Baltimore this week.

[09:25:00] The video of Toyia Graham quickly went viral with many online calling her mother of the year. But not everybody was quick to call her actions heroic. Joining me now is Stacey Patton, she's a journalist who says Toyia's actions only make children more vulnerable to violent behavior. This week she wrote an op-ed for the "Washington Post" which was titled "Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child?" Also, Congressman Bobby Rush. He praised Toyia's actions on the House floor saying, "more African-American mothers need totake control of their children."


REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: Beside me today is an image that many across the nation have seen, the image of a strong black mother giving her son what I will call a love whooping to snatch him back from the grips of senseless violence that is currently plaguing the city of Baltimore, Maryland.


SMERCONISH: Stacey Patton and Congressman Bobby Rush both joining me now. I heard from radio callers all week long similar sentiments to those that were expressed by Congressman Rush on the floor of the House. What are they missing?

STACEY PATTON, CREATOR, SPARETHEKIDS.COM: They're missing the point that whipping a child, being violent with a child is not going to do a whole lot to stem the sociological problems that they're citing, violence in the streets. Young people ending up in jail. All the science that we have yet, 50 years of science that shows that when you physically discipline children, it amps up, you know, aggressive behavior, it drives juvenile delinquency underground. You're actually putting children at risk for committing the kinds of behaviors that you're trying to prevent through violence.

SMERCONISH: But yours was not just a corporal punishment argument. I read it very carefully. You also say that it puts the onus, it puts the focus on young African-American men and overlooks the drivers of that bad behavior.

PATTON: Yes. It does. So a lot of people are celebrating Toyia Graham's actions because it confirms for them, see, black children just need more whippings. That if we get more people to stay home and hit their kids, then that's going to solve everything. And it obscures the fact that she is parenting under a sociological condition that makes her violence and her fear directed at her son necessary in the first place.

SMERCONISH: Congressman, react to that, if you would. I know that next weekend is Mother's day and you would like individuals to wear yellow ribbons in celebration of that mother that we saw in Baltimore.

RUSH: Well, I certainly would like for women to celebrate in their - by wearing yellow ribbons because I think that what Toyia Graham did was really kind of - really very courageous. She stepped in the midst of harm, in harm's way, and snatched her son out of harm's way.

Now, I think if we want to focus in on the actual whipping, then that will - what I call the love whipping, that would be missing the point that I am trying to make. The point that I am trying to make is that if we're going to deal with the violence that occurs day by day in our own community, the only thing that remains for us to do, we've marched every week, we've had all kinds of vigil, all kinds of outcries, all kinds of other programs.

The only thing that's left to the victims of this march is for mothers to organize themselves into a body, into an entity and begin to take back the streets themselves. The power of motherhood is a power that has not been utilized significantly in this effort to create a non- violent society, non-violent community.

I'm telling you that the power of mothers is there, it's intense. Nobody can react to the scream of a mother's whose son or a daughter but primarily whose son is suddenly killed and pronounced dead. That primal scream is a scream that no other human being can utter. I've heard it myself. All right. I've seen others scream in the same manner. And that primal scream is the essence of the power. I think that's what Ms. Graham was attempting to do.

[09:30:00] She wasn't dealing with any scientific factor some other kind of theory. She was just trying to snatch --

SMERCONISH: I think what you're saying is not so much that you're devaluing the role of motherhood but, rather, there are other factors at play here and that's not just get caught up on what mom was doing.

PATTON: Exactly. See, here's the thing. You can't fight violence with more violence. You can't fight oppression with more oppression.

You know, I hear a lot of talk about how her mother's -- this mother's actions were about keeping him safe. But the irony is all week long we've been hearing calls from, you know, from president, from city officials, from activists, from clergy saying stop the violence, stop the violence. And then we see this clip of a mother wailing on her son, which is an act of violence.

SMERCONISH: And we applaud it.

PATTON: And we applaud it. And so, the violence is the -- hitting a child is not going to save them from being beaten by the police or killed or even from jail. The statistics and the names of the dead bear this out.

SMERCONISH: What would you say to a critic of your piece who says -- well, you're giving absolution to young African-American men who do step out, who are violent, who are breaking the law. There's got to be an element of personal responsibility here for them.

PATTON: So, I think they're projecting something that I haven't written on the page. I'm not giving absolution to it but I certainly understand. You know, Dr. King said, you know, of riots is the language of the unheard. We've had decades and decades of hopelessness and disenfranchisement.

And you're dealing with young people whose brains aren't completely formed yet, who are fueled by testosterone. These are young people who are traumatized, who are on a day to day, being told that their lives don't matter. And people aren't listening to them. People aren't investing in their lives.

So what else is there to do but to pick up a rock? I understand the violence. I'm not saying, you know, we should go burn down our communities and be -- and be violent. But I definitely understand.

SMERCONISH: You think there's more acceptance -- by the way, we lost Congressman Bobby Rush. I just don't want folks to think I'm being disrespectful by not including him.

Do you think there's a racial divide on this issue? When I take telephone callers to my program I sense that there's more acceptance in the African-American community of corporal punishment than there is, say, among suburban whites. I saw this in the Adrian Peterson case where he famously said he used a switch on his son.

PATTON: I don't think there's a racial divide. The statistics show that 90 percent of Americans, you know, agree with some form of corporal punishment or they've used it. I think there is a racially inflicted tone to how we talk about it. It seems that African- Americans are prompted -- sort of prompted up as the emblems of people who are, you know, brutalizing their children.

Here's where there is also a racial divide, is in terms of, you know, the disproportionate prosecutions for child abuse. You know, African- Americans are much more likely to be charged -- arrested, charged, and imprisoned for abusing their kids compared to whites.

And also the rates of foster care placement. You know, black children are more likely to be placed in foster care as a result of abuse.

SMERCONISH: I thought your piece was great. I just will tell you that day one, like many others when I saw the video, I was of the way to go mom mindset. Then your piece hit "The Washington Post" 24 hours later and I found myself saying, wait a minute, you know, there's more here to be thinking about.

PATTON: Definitely.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

PATTON: Thank you so much.

SMERCONISH: Appreciate you being here.

Thank you, Stacey Patton. Thank you, Congressman Bobby Rush.

Coming up, "black lives matter", that's been the rallying cry for protesters following the deaths of several African-American males at the hands of police. A former Baltimore Ravens player joins me to give us his take on whether institutionalized racism played a role in their deaths.

And tonight is the night. It's being called the fight of the century. Mayweather versus Pacquiao, two of the biggest names the sport has ever seen. I'm going to get a reaction from a man who has already gone toe to toe with one of tonight's stars.


FLOYD MAYWEATHER, BOXING CHAMP: You never give me a fair shake. HBO needs to fire you because you don't know shit about boxing. You ain't shit. Here you're not shit.

LARRY MERCHANT, BOXING ANALYST: I wish I was 50 years younger and I kick your ass.



[09:38:28] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

Freddie Gray's death has reignited the debate over policing in minority communities. Protesters in Baltimore and across the country chanting "black lives matter" once again brought forth the term institutionalized racism, the idea that social institutions like police departments give negative treatment to people based on their race.

My next guest agrees. He says there's inherent flaw in the way things are done and disproportionately affects poor people and black people.

Obafemi Ayanbadejo --


SMERCONISH: All right -- played for the Baltimore Ravens, lives in Baltimore and you're getting an MBA at Johns Hopkins. Good for you.

AYANBADEJO: That is correct.

SMERCONISH: Where does institutional racism begin and end? Where does institutional racism begin and end? Because people seem to confuse the two.

AYANBADEJO: Yes, you know what? It's really hard to say. I think it's kind of meshed together at this point. The bottom line is that institutional racism really involves differential access. When I say access I'm talking about access to education, opportunities, goods and services that are provided.

It's hard to say exactly where personal responsibility starts and the systemic issues that have flawed the system actually make it difficult for people to assume the levels of responsibility we like to see.

SMERCONISH: So, we saw this in an illustration I think this week with how individuals regarded the looters. You had the president and the mayor both regard them as thugs. The mayor walked back those words as far as I know the president did not. Who was right and who was wrong? AYANBADEJO: You know, I think that what we've come to this point now

where the word "thugs" and animals has kind of replaced the "N" word to some degree.

[09:40:03] I know this is a hot thing that's been going around. People kind of saying that. But to me, when I look at crowds in a mob, the content and the color of that mob really does have an affect on people -- on the words and adjectives people use to describe that mob.

The bottom line is, is that when you're looting and burning things and there's violence, no one condones that. But I don't like the fact that we see different words used to describe the mob in the crowd based on the color of the crowd. That's the issue I have.

SMERCONISH: Femi, here's "The Sun" today, right? Six charged. Is that enough for the community? In other words, is this in and of itself justice or if there are acquittals of these six cops, are we going of to see this all over again?

AYANBADEJO: You know, I mean, if we see an acquittal I think we're going to have a problem. Baltimore is a unique city. You know, the black population here is upwards of 60 percent. You know, in South Carolina, when you look at what happened with the situation down there, what happened in Cleveland, and I think Trayvon Martin is really the wick on the candle that started all of this.

In certain areas around the U.S., you might be able to get away with certain things like this but Baltimore is not a place you can get away with it at. This can be the epicenter of change. You know, we need to change the system from top to bottom.

The way we handle criminality in the U.S., based on the sheer numbers, the data. And I hate to go this route, but the bottom line is global warming is not a debate anymore. Institutional racism can't be a debate anymore. We have to have a real discussion about it. People can have visceral reaction, and they get upset when we start talking about black and white, not black and white in the negative context, but black and white from the standpoint that blacks and whites are treated differently.

All things being equal, if you and I do the same thing wrong, we both get arrested, chances are I'm more likely to get -- I'm more likely to get in trouble and actually serve time, I'm likely to serve a longer sentence, I'm less likely to get paroled, all things being equal. That is an inherent flaw.

SMERCONISH: That's compared to a bald white guy like me.


SMERCONISH: And that's what you're talking about.

AYANBADEJO: And that's what I'm talking about.

SMERCONISH: Ayanbadejo --

AYANBADEJO: Ayanbadejo.

SMERCONISH: If we started a law firm, Ayanbadejo and Smerconish, could you imagine the person answering the phone and trying to -- mouthful.

AYANBADEJO: We would have to be like A&S or something, you know?



AYANBADEJO: Yes, something like that. Exactly.

SMERCONISH: Femi, thank you so much for being here.

AYANBADEJO: No problem.

SMERCONISH: Hey, coming up, a princess is born. Prince William and Kate announce the arrival of their baby girl. We're going to take you to London for the very latest.


SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back.

Royal baby watch finally over. Princess Kate and Prince William have welcomed a baby girl. The newborn is the royal couple's second child and a little sister for Prince George.

Let's go to London where CNN's Max Foster has been tracking the latest developments.

[09:45:25] Max, she was late but ultimately all is well.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. We're waiting for some time for this. And suddenly, it all happened very quickly. So, 6:00 in the morning, London time. She was admitted in the hospital in the early stage of labor.

And a couple hours later, just after 8:00, she had a baby girl who will be a princess. She was born eight pounds. Both are doing very well.

Prince George, her older brother, isn't here at the moment. He's at Kensington Palace. We were hoping he was going to pop in and visit. It hasn't happened quite yet.

But, certainly, this is a significant in the British constitution in the sense that this will be a great support to Prince George as he heads towards the throne as king one day. In history, over the thousand years of British history, royal history, certainly many of the next in lines have gone on to become the monarch.

So, for example, the queen's father was not meant to be the monarch. It was his older brother. But he abdicated. So, it does happen.

This princess could well go on to become queen. At the moment, I think it's part of the fairytale, this young sort of charismatic family feels more complete now, according to many people here and the members of public. They like the idea of the princess coming along.

SMERCONISH: I don't want to trivialize the birth, but it's great for the monarchy, it's great for tourism, right? I mean, those of us on this side of the pond, we're enthralled by all of this in the same way they are in the U.K.

FOSTER: Well, it's not just that. If Brad spins the camera around -- I mean, seriously, Michael, this is a press pack than many that I've seen. Huge amounts of media. But this is just one press pen. It's the main press pen.

You have the photographers and the broadcasters in front of them. There are literally hundreds of journalists and camera technicians here and engineers. It's a huge media operation. It's not the sort of what you could necessarily expect. So, a lot of countries coming over from Japan, from Italy, from France, huge amounts of magazine journalists.

The magazines are particularly pleased it's a princess. That's what they were hoping for. It's a much bigger story for them. They say, you know, a prince would have been a story for a couple of weeks really for them, but now, you're talking about princess and clothes she wears growing up. This is a story now that has years in the running.

SMERCONISH: Max Foster, thank you so much.

Coming up, fight night is finally here. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are ready to rumble, and there's a lot on the line. The great boxing analyst Larry Merchant is joining me next.


SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

All eyes are on Las Vegas and what will be the richest bout in boxing history. Mayweather versus Pacquiao and there's a lot at stake.

Floyd Mayweather, the overall favorite, is an 11-time world champion and currently undefeated.

[09:50:04] While Manny Pacquiao is looking to defend his WBO welterweight crown.

Tonight will no doubt be a fight for the ages, the winner tonight will be viewed as the best boxer of his era. There's nobody better to preview the big match-up than Larry Merchant, considered the greatest TV boxing analyst of all time.

And you might remember his famous interview with Mayweather back in 2011 when he questioned the boxing great over the fairness of his knockout punches.


MERCHANT: You were in charge of the fight. You were aggressive and try and taking advantage of what --

MAYWEATHER: You don't ever give me a fair shake, you know that? Someone let you talk to Victor Ortiz, all right? I'm through.

MERCHANT: What are you talking about?

MAYWEATHER: HBO needs to fire you because you don't know shit about boxing. You ain't shit. Here you're not shit.

MERCHANT: I wish I was 50 years younger and I'd kick your ass.


SMERCONISH: Larry Merchant joins me now.

Larry, here's the question, if Mayweather gets past Pacquiao, will the people finally get to see Mayweather v. Merchant?

MERCHANT: It's been talked about. We know it took a long time to make Mayweather and Pacquiao. It may take as long or longer to make Mayweather and Merchant.

SMERCONISH: Were you surprised by the life that that took on, of its own? I mean people were making t-shirts. It's been viewed, Larry, more than a million times on YouTube.

MERCHANT: A grandson of mine told my I was trending past Justin Bieber. I -- I thought it was a momentary thing, something that would have a very short life. But wherever I go, people throw that line back at me and we all get a smile out of it. It would be no lower than the second paragraph of my obituary.

SMERCONISH: Hopefully, that will be 100 years from now.

For the uninitiated, what's the story line of this evening?

MERCHANT: Well, that it's a huge event. And that boxing like all sports needs these big events that transcend the sport, that reach out to people who aren't necessarily interested in it. As a game, but get attracted to what is a popular culture event.

SMERCONISH: It shows that boxing, what I prefer to call prize fighting still has some resonance and is still important to some people and can still galvanize people around the planet.

SMERCONISH: Are these two worth the hype or is the interest in this fight more reflective of the fact that the boxing has been in decline, that it's been facing challenges from an MMA crowd that it never had to compete with before?

MERCHANT: There have various opinions on that. You know, boxing has been a cable television sport for 20 or 25 years, but very active in that realm, with its own subculture of viewers. And occasionally something breaks out.

These have been the two best or best-known fighters of the 21st century. And people have been awaiting this fight for five years, since Pacquiao broke through as an international star and celebrity. And Mayweather had been a well-known name from a family of fighters and had been an outstanding fighter himself.

I think of Mayweather as the best pure boxer of his time. And Pacquiao is the best fighter of his time. And so, a lot of people want to see what happens when they test each other.

SMERCONISH: I know that you're providing analysis for my favorite beer, Tecate, the one I drink with the lime, because I've been watching you with Sylvester Stallone.

When -- Larry Merchant, with your trained eye is watching the fight tonight, what are you looking for?

MERCHANT: You know, usually the excitement in Mayweather fights end at the first bell, because he is a controlled fighter, a virtuoso, defensive technical fighter who can control the action or inaction in his fights. He's brilliant at that.

[09:55:00] Whereas Manny Pacquiao is the more active fighter and who will take some risks. And so, I'm just curious to see how that scenario plays out. How the relative speed of them plays out. The relative size, because Mayweather is the bigger man.

He is the favorite. I think he probably has in mind of looking for an opportunity to do something dramatic. But he is one of those fighters who would normally rather watch a dramatic fight than be in it.

SMERCONISH: Larry, can I just say that when I was a kid, Howard Cosell's voice made it an event. I'll never forget March 8, '71 at the Garden, I had to wait and watch the highlights on "The Wild World of Sports." But for me as an adult, you have filled that void, it's Larry Merchant's voice that makes it an event. Thank you so much for being here.

MERCHANT: It's been an honor, thank you.

SMERCONISH: I'll be right back.


SMERCONISH: Hey, thank you so much for joining me. Please tune in tomorrow, I'll be hosting "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

And don't forget, you can you follow me on Twitter, so long as you can spell Smerconish, I'll see you tomorrow live from Baltimore.