If you knew nothing about Floyd Mayweather Jr. going into last weekend’s fight, you might have thought he was one of the most-loved athletes on the planet. After all, this month alone, he’s made the cover of ESPN magazine’s “Money Issue”; set a record for the largest contract guarantee for a single fight with a $32 million purse (not including pay-per-view receipts); and entered the ring at MGM Grand with an entourage that included none other than … Justin Bieber?!
You might have guessed Mayweather was just a big ball of blessed goodness, a guy who deserves all the good fortune that’s come his way. A role model. All of which begs the question—what the hell is going on around here? We’re talking about a guy who’s been in trouble multiple times for domestic violence. The same guy who, less than a month from now, will begin serving a three-month jail sentence for terrorizing the mother of three of his children in 2010 (not to mention the children themselves).
So where is all this love coming from? When Chris Brown savagely beat Rihanna in 2009, it caused a maelstrom of hatred toward the performer that continues to follow him to this day. In addition to the most recent case, Mayweather’s tumultuous history includes two counts of domestic violence and one count of misdemeanor battery in 2002, two counts of misdemeanor battery against two women in 2004 and a no-contest plea on a misdemeanor battery charge against a bouncer in 2005. And yet, with Mayweather, it all seems an afterthought. The majority of news outlets covering his fight with Miguel Cotto last weekend either downplayed his troubling past or ignored it completely.
Is it that, deep down, we expect our professional prizefighters to be aggressive outside the ring? After all, Mike Tyson spent time in prison for a rape he still denies, and now people pay money to listen to him speak about his crazy life.
Or is the answer in Mayweather’s “Money” nickname? After all, as long as an entertainment figure is filling seats and selling pay-per-view units, a lot can be forgiven. How else can we explain Mayweather’s jail sentence being delayed so he could train for the Cotto fight? His lawyer may have cried it’s the economy, but we’re the ones who look stupid when we send the message that it’s okay to act like a monster as long as you’re getting paid.