Floyd Mayweather is Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and a few more bad guys rolled into one. Five different women have alleged that the multi-millionaire boxer assaulted them a total of seven times over the past 14 years, each resulting in Mayweather being arrested or issued a citation.
One of the women, Josie Harris, Mayweather’s former longtime partner and the mother of three of his four children, told USA TODAY Sports that she suffered physical abuse from Mayweather on “six occasions,” the worst coming in September 2010 when Mayweather entered Harris’ home as she slept, yanked her to the floor by her hair and punched and kicked her in front of their children, threatening to kill her. The couple’s oldest son slipped out of the house to alert a security guard to call the police. Harris was wheeled away on a stretcher and treated at a hospital.
Those are the details of just one of those seven assaults that resulted in legal action against Mayweather, the highest-paid athlete in the world. For his behavior that night, he was eventually sentenced to 90 days in prison, serving only two months.
This Saturday, millions of sports fans will spend $99.95 each to watch Mayweather’s welterweight title fight against Manny Pacquiao on pay-per-view. Thousands more will descend on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to drop a small fortune to be there in person. Estimates are that $100 million will be wagered on the outcome. And Mayweather is expected to make at least $150 million himself.
What in the world is wrong with us?
Why have we as a society reacted with such anger and disgust at the elevator video of Rice hitting his then fiancée, to the point that Rice is still without a job in the NFL, yet completely ignored the despicable and lengthy history of domestic violence by Mayweather?
And let’s not forget that Pacquiao is no Boy Scout himself. He has had a tax evasion fight and made controversial statements about same-sex marriage. However, Pacquiao has addressed those issues whereas Mayweather continues to avoid talking about his awful past.
Replace the name Mayweather with Rice, and there would be protests — if the fight ever would have gotten off the ground at all. Imagine the news reports. The uproar. The boycott.
But for Mayweather? Nothing but a few stories in the news media, nothing to stem the tidal wave of this gaudy, overdone weekend in Vegas.
Why the difference? It’s a complicated mix of expectations and timing, says Harry Edwards, professor emeritus at the University of California and a noted sports consultant, but it all starts with the fact that we were able to see what Rice did.
“There’s no video on Mayweather,” Edwards said in a phone interview. “There was video on Ray Rice. Also, Ray Rice was part of a larger entity, he was part of a team, he was part of an organization that carries a city’s name, he was part of the NFL, an institution of professional football. Boxers are more individualized and siloed in terms of what they represent and who they represent and in point of fact, Mayweather doesn’t represent anybody but himself.”
Mayweather also picked the right time to attack women: before Sept. 8, 2014, when the video surfaced of Rice punching Janay Palmer Rice in that Atlantic City elevator.
“What Mayweather was involved in occurred when this rising consensus (against) the beating of women was just beginning to emerge,” Edwards said. “The day is now past when some of these issues would be swept under the rug, cast aside, kicked to the curb. This stuff is going to be reported, and when you combine that with the video cameras, when you combine that with this rising consensus about beating on women, that should disqualify you from the privilege of participating in sports. There’s no question that even people siloed in individual sports such as boxing, people like Floyd Mayweather, will have to account for that at some point if he continues that behavior.”
That day hopefully is on the way, but it’s certainly not coming this week. The Nevada State Athletic Commission and the other cast of characters who allegedly run professional boxing act as if Sept. 8 never happened, as if they’ve been locked in a closet while the NFL has established a stringent new personal conduct policy that would never allow Mayweather to play a down in its league.
But he’s a boxer, not a football player, so he carries on along his multimillion-dollar path, and we right along with him.