Floyd Mayweather jnr’s domestic violence record not getting scrutiny it so warrants

Many in the media believe two guilty verdicts for crimes against women is no big deal


A few weeks back, a Texas sports talk radio show invited listeners to call in to express dissatisfaction with the Dallas Cowboys signing Greg Hardy to a one-year contract worth just over $11 million. They struggled to find anybody willing to vent about the arrival of a superb defensive end who will miss much of the coming NFL season due to suspension for his involvement in a domestic violence case. Even when producers requested female-only fans to ring in, they found women merely wishing to laud the intimidating on-field presence known as “The Kraken”.

As Nascar driver Kurt Busch took the chequered flag to win the Sprint Cup Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway last Sunday, the television coverage framed his victory as an uplifting comeback narrative.

“From suspension to redemption to victory lane,” said commentator Mike Joy, referencing Busch having started the season on the sidelines, prohibited from racing due to a domestic violence charge. While a court found there was not enough evidence to proceed against him, Busch’s ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll remains under an order of protection. Hardly circumstances where somebody in the arena deserves any plaudits.

Against the tawdry background of those two cameos, it has been instructive to witness the prolonged build-up to Floyd Mayweather jnr’s clash with Manny Pacquiao this Saturday night.

Greatest fighter

None of this is news. However, Mayweather’s relentless promotion of a bout retailing for an overpriced $90 on pay-per-view has made him a constant presence in the mainstream media for the first time in his career. With that greater recognition has, thankfully, come more rigorous scrutiny of a charge sheet that has yielded two guilty verdicts for crimes against women. Not that everybody thinks this is a big deal.

Second Captains

Katie Couric, a pioneering female journalist, embarrassed herself during a fawning sit-down with the undefeated welterweight champion, lobbing softball questions and accepting trite denials and dismissals of what is a fairly lengthy book of evidence regarding a tendency to use his legendary fists against former girlfriends. Similarly, Stephen A Smith, a long-time Mayweather apologist, has lambasted Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach for having the temerity to bring up the 38-year-old’s criminal record.

“What makes me uncomfortable is that they’re also lumping all of this other stuff that Floyd allegedly has done to say, ‘Well, you know what? Look at how much of a bad guy he is’,” said Smith on ESPN.

Thankfully, others have not been so willing to allow Mayweather and his enablers to downplay his serial offences amid the hard sell. Deadspin.com revisited the circumstances and details of every case against him, as it has been doing regularly, long before the recent explosion of interest.

ESPN’s always diligent investigative show Outside the Lines also went in-depth on the issue, dwelling on the fact boxing’s governing bodies and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (under whose auspices all his fights are held) have never even suspended him for his behaviour. The most troubling moment in that programme came when reporter John Barr confronted Mayweather and asked him how somebody with his track record against women has never been banned from the ring.

“I’d just say I want everybody to tune in May 2nd,” said Mayweather. “Mayweather-Pacquioa: this is a fight you can’t miss.” When Barr asked a follow-up question, Mayweather again, rather chillingly, ignored it. “I’m blessed to be where I’m at, I have four beautiful children. And with hard work and dedication you can be anywhere in life.”

90-day prison sentence

Josie Harris

Melissa Brim is the mother of his other beautiful child, a daughter named Ayanna. He received a suspended sentence after he pled guilty to two counts of domestic battery against her 13 years ago. Legal documents from that incident include allegations he hit Brim with a car door, and punched her in the face and neck in two separate incidents.

“When all is said and done, only God can judge,” said Mayweather, displaying an almost sociopathic ability to remain on message in the face of Barr’s questioning. “And I just don’t want people to miss this fight. It’s an unbelievable match.”

As the clock has ticked down towards the first bell, the clamour for a boycott has grown. Keith Olbermann, the most articulate commentator at ESPN, has led those calls, describing Mayweather as “an excuse for a man”. Between Olbermann and Outside the Lines, ESPN has struck so many right notes in this. Yet, the very same network made money off the fighter they have been exposing by showing a Mayweather workout live on one of their channels.

That type of hypocrisy will be widespread this Saturday night when people who should know better will pay serious money to watch somebody who so obviously doesn’t.

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