America at Large: Flawless Floyd Mayweather not so slick outside the ring

Jackson claims she wasn’t allowed leave his house unless escorted by a TMT employee

Shantel Jackson: ex-fiancee of Floyd Mayweather jnr looks on as her attorney Gloria Allred holds up a photograph of the couple after announcing a lawsuit against the boxer for battery, assault, invasion of privacy, defamation and false imprisonment. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Shantel Jackson: ex-fiancee of Floyd Mayweather jnr looks on as her attorney Gloria Allred holds up a photograph of the couple after announcing a lawsuit against the boxer for battery, assault, invasion of privacy, defamation and false imprisonment. Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

 

As preparation for his rematch with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather jnr has been practising a very peculiar brand of yoga, one that permits him to take breaks during class to scoff down Big Macs.

He’s also been splattering Warren Buffet with blood at a sparring session and chatting with the investment guru about the merger of Burger King and Tim Horton’s. And he’s even been ordering his legion of minions to get more cigarette papers so the beautiful women who hang at his mansion can more easily roll joints.

Some of us know these intimate details because the build-up to every Mayweather fight provides entertaining fodder for a fly on the wall television show that airs on Showtime, a premium cable network that only reaches one in four American homes. Showtime’s paltry market share and the fact Mayweather bouts now cost $64.99 (€50.33) on pay-per-view explains why so many people here recognise him as a former contestant on Dancing With the Stars rather than, as ESPN dubbed him, “the last great prizefighter”. He may or may not be that. But it can be argued he is the most fascinating, compelling and offensive character in sport just now.

The highest-paid athlete in the world (his purse for the first Maidana fight was $32 million) wears every pair of boxers just once, owns a G5 private jet that he won’t allow his enormous bodyguards to fly on, and likes to gamble millions on the outcome of sporting events. The extravagance of his spending habits – last year he showed a reporter a bank statement totalling $123 million – has become

his calling card and trademark. The paid members of his extensive entourage work for TMT, the initials standing for The Money Team, and some of them carry Ziploc bags of cash in case their boss feels the need to splurge.

“A lot of times, you see a lot of these rap artists, they rap about certain things, but I really live it,” said Mayweather. “Every home that I have is paid for, every car that I have is paid for. And I am a hundred-million-dollar man; I mean this is the truth, it’s not a lie.”

That pointed quote came earlier this year when Mayweather was simultaneously feuding with three different rappers. Aside from beefs with Nelly and TI, his most enduring contretemps involves former best pal Fifty Cent. The two fell out over money and, as the world obsessed over the ice bucket challenge last month, 50 Cent said he’d donate $750,000 to ALS charities if the boxer would read a full page of a Harry Potter book on camera. When a New York radio station then ran footage of Mayweather struggling badly with the script of a basic jingle, the fighter responded to the literacy jibes the only way he can – he released an Instagram of a cheque to his company made out for $72,276,000.

What makes Mayweather so captivating is the contradiction between this cartoonish lifestyle and his utter dedication to his craft. For all the on-camera buffoonery, he somehow finds time to put in the hard hours needed to perform under the lights. Eighteen years after first turning pro, the 37-year-old has won every one of his 46 fights, defeated opponents of all different styles across five divisions, and (notwithstanding the failure of him and Manny Pacquiao to get it on in their prime) earned his billing as the greatest of his time. In typical Mayweather fashion, he’s lately started to refer to himself as TBE (The Best Ever).

Although Maidana gave him genuine problems early on in their May encounter, it was the Argentine who weakened perceptibly as the fight wore on. In the aftermath of what was an especially dirty contest, Floyd Mayweather snr, who once famously used then two-year-old Floyd as a human shield while being shot at in a drug dispute, claimed his son was distracted before the bout.

Indeed, just 48 hours before climbing through the ropes, Mayweather had posted his ex-girlfriend’s sonogram on social media, along with the statement: “The real reason me and Shantel Christine Jackson @MissJackson broke up was because she got an abortion, and I’m totally against killing babies.”

Last week, Jackson filed a lawsuit against Mayweather alleging invasion of privacy, assault, battery, civil harassment, and defamation, and claims she wasn’t allowed leave his house unless accompanied by a TMT employee. Extremely disturbing stuff given that in 2012 he spent two months in solitary confinement at Clark County Jail for domestic abuse of Josie Harris, the mother of two of his children.

In a week when Ray Rice’s NFL career was rightfully ended for committing an act of violence against a woman, it’s as odd as it is troubling that the dark side of Mayweather’s character comes in for a whole lot less public scrutiny. This lack of interest may be a reflection of how little most people even notice boxing today. Ghettoised on pay per view, just under a million American homes bought Mayweather-Maidana I.

The sequel should attract more viewers even if Vegas makes Mayweather (now assisted by the Argentine’s former conditioning coach, the controversial Alex Ariza) a prohibitive favourite.

Of course, there have never really been too many questions about him in the ring. Outside the ring? Well, there, very serious doubts persist.

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