On May 2, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will step into a boxing ring in Las Vegas with the purpose of beating the equally legendary Manny Pacquiao to a pulp. It is, according to a breathless press corps, the “fight of the century,” a night that marks a high point moment, not just for the careers of these two men, but allegedly for boxing as a sport.
Meanwhile, experts estimate $250 million in pay-per-view revenue will be generated as millions around the world pony up around $100 to watch the highly-anticipated fight on Showtime. Whether he wins or loses, Mayweather will leave the MGM Grand at least $150 million richer, according to Forbes, and Pacquiao’s take will be close to $100 million. They don’t call Mayweather ”Money” for nothing.
Lost in this near-deafening feedback loop of hype is the fact that Mayweather is almost as good at beating up women outside the ring as he is beating up opponents inside it.
The dramatic and public downfall of American football star Ray Rice—caught on security camera punching his wife in an elevator—sparked a series of important questions about the way we treat misogyny and violence at the highest levels of professional athletics. The fact that nobody seems all that much about Mayweather’s own well-documented history of violence—a history that spans over 10 years and five different women—proves that when the stakes are high enough, a domestic battery doesn’t have to hurt you career.
The inconvenient truth of Mayweather’s misogyny problem has remained a generally unspoken but open secret in boxing circles. In July of 2014, Deadspin’s Daniel Roberts wrote an analysis of Mayweather’s past featuring a veritable blow-by-blow accounting of his crimes. Close to a million people read that piece, according to Deadspin’s metrics. And then, silence.
All told, Mayweather has been accused of assaulting five different women, at least seven different times, as documented by a collection witness statements, police reports and legal proceedings.
Perhaps the most infamous assault occurred in 2010, when Mayweather attacked Josie Harris, the mother of three of Mayweather’s children, in the early morning hours of Sept. 9. According to the police report, Mayweather “grabbed Harris by her hair and began striking her in the back of her head with a closed fist,” resulting in a concussion. When Harris screamed for her sons, 10-year-old Koraun and 9-year-old Zion to call the police, Mayweather threatened to beat them up, too.
Facing multiple felony charges, Mayweather plead guilty and served a mere 90 days in jail. After his release in 2012, Mayweather embarked on a brazen campaign of public revisionism, telling CNN’s Rachel Nichols that since the attack wasn’t captured on film, there’s really no proof it happened at all.
“Mayweather isn’t saying, ‘I didn’t do it,’ but rather, ‘You didn’t see me do it.'” wrote ESPN’s Sarah Spain. “It’s an absurd defense, and yet it appears to be working—for Mayweather, and for Hardy, and for McDonald, and for every other athlete who has been accused of domestic violence and escaped punishment.”
Unbeaten through 47 bouts, the 38-year-old welterweight’s public persona has evolved into a bombastic, swaggering, lucrative brand. Mayweather compares women to his car collection. He claims women who dress certain ways are “asking to be disrespected.” Fans—and the promoters and journalists who profit from this larger-than-life reputation—just lap it all up.
What would a man like that gain from taking responsibility for his actions? Why would a man like that need to show remorse?
“[My dad] is a coward,” Mayweather’s now teenage son Koraun told USA Today in 2014. But Mayweather isn’t the only one refusing to take responsibility here. Each $100 pay-per-view package purchased this weekend, each absurdly over-priced ticket acquired sends a painfully clear message. ESPN’s Sarah Spain has suggested boycotting the fight and instead donating those dollars to charity. USA Today actually asked organizations how exactly a donation of that size could help domestic violence victims—turns out, it could do lot.
Clearly, no writer before me has been able to dissuade fans from sticking their Mayweather-loving heads in the sand, and so I know my own chances of doing so are slim. But know this: If you choose to watch the fight on Saturday, you are directly endorsing and enabling an unrepentant misogynist and convicted domestic abuser.
Behold, our champ.