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29 AUGUST 2014

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr: When is Enough?


Floyd Mayweather Jr
Floyd Mayweather Jr

By Thomas Hauser

Manny Pacquiao isn’t given to trash-talking. He rarely says a bad word about anyone and is particularly careful when talking about other boxers. Thus, it was significant when Pacquiao said recently, “[Floyd] Mayweather thinks he’s better than anybody else. In the ring, it’s good for a fighter to think that way, to have confidence. But Mayweather thinks that way about other people outside of boxing. I don’t like that.”

A lot of people don’t like it, and their numbers are growing.

To many in the sweet science, loyalty is a four-letter word: c-a-s-h. Based on that principle, Mayweather has become what Keith Idec calls “boxing’s most spoiled child, a smug multimillionaire accustomed to getting his way with the help of an army of enablers.”

These enablers, Kevin Iole writes, “have whored themselves out and ignored Mayweather’s increasingly irrational behavior because of his ability to generate money. They’ve turned their heads to his often bizarre and distasteful behavior because he could increase the bottom line in their checking accounts. For far too long, he has been allowed to run unchecked. The result is a man who has become out of touch with reality, who has lived a fairy tale to stroke his own ego.”

Mayweather has chosen to make his life very public, so it’s fair for the media to comment on that life. He’s an exceptionally talented fighter. Even his most severe critics acknowledge that. And he has promoted himself very skillfully to maximize his earning potential. What he has not done is conduct himself as a responsible adult. His repeated abuse of women, his racist comments, and his constant demeaning of ring opponents stand testament to that. Last month, there were ominous signs that he is imploding and that his world might come crashing down.

Mayweather’s latest troubles began on September 2nd, when he was seen worldwide on a UStream.com video. The kick-off press tour for Pacquiao-Margarito was underway. Floyd might have been jealous of the attention that Manny was getting. Regardless of his motive, he spewed venom.

During the video, Mayweather called Pacquiao a “little yellow chump,” a “whore,” and a “faggot.” He also said, “Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that motherfucker make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.” For good measure, he added, “Motherfucker Pacquiao, he can’t speak no English.”

Some things are too disgusting even for boxing.

Jeff MacGregor suggested on ESPN.com that the video should be preceded by the legend, “WARNING! Fantastically immature mature content, bad language, poor grammar, brainless not-safe-for-work-or-play racism, miserable homophobia, smug condescension, and irredeemable self-regard.”

Jerry Izenberg wrote, “Now Mayweather has become as offensive as he is boring. You can add dumb to that. None of this is very complicated. He said what he said. He is what he is.”

Others condemned Floyd’s remarks as hateful and grotesque. The general consensus was that a village somewhere was missing an idiot.

A new parlor game arose: “Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that . . .”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Floyd Sr is complaining that his son is disgracing the family name.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that his initials stand for FuckerMother.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that James Toney condemned him for trash-talking.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that the WBC is turning down the sanctioning fee for his next fight.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that John Rocker issued a statement demanding that Floyd apologize.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Danny Milano couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Michael Buffer lost his cool when he heard them.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Reebok is paying him to wear Nike.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Bernard Hopkins was speechless.”

“Floyd Mayweather Jr’s comments were so dumb that Roger is now known as the intelligent Mayweather.”

“He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed,” Dan Rafael wrote. “He’s also too dumb to realize that he’s not even promoting an actual fight, since he won’t sign for it. I wonder if his mother is proud of him? How about his young children? They’ll be able to watch that video someday because it will be on the Internet forever.”

On September 5th, Mayweather spoke out again on UStream.com. This time, he offered a rambling stream of consciousness about a variety of subjects. Toward the end, he said, "I do want to apologize for what happened the other night. I want to apologize to everybody because everybody thought that it was a racist comment that I said. I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I have nothing but love for everybody. Some of my guys are Muslim. Some of my guys are Jews, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, whites. I got nothing but love in my heart. All I want to say is, if anybody was affected from what I said the other day, I apologize as a man. I was just having fun. I didn’t really mean it.”

Having fun?

Meanwhile, the storm was moving beyond the boxing community.

On September 6th, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations condemned Mayweather’s remarks as “blatantly racist and homophobic.” National chairperson Greg Macabenta declared, “This disgusting diatribe against Pacquiao is a racial slur against all Filipinos and Filipino-Americans and an embarrassment, not only to the boxing community but to all Americans. We are asking all civil rights organizations to stand in solidarity with us in denouncing this racist and homophobic rant. At a time when immigrant communities are being viewed with increasing suspicion and mistrust, Mayweather’s cruel, abusive, and hurtful remarks can only stoke more hostility, derision, and resentment. Mayweather’s shameless and reckless conduct seriously undermines America’s core values of inclusivity and racial tolerance.”

AT&T and Reebok (which had featured Mayweather in earlier advertising campaigns) announced that their relationship with the fighter had expired.

HBO’s initial response was muted. The network’s 24/7 series has been a crucial building block in the construction of Mayweather’s celebrity image. Rightly or wrongly, the powers that be at HBO Sports feel that, to a degree, their fortunes are tied to Floyd.

On a September 11th Boxing After Dark telecast, blow-by-blow commentator Bob Papa referenced Mayweather’s comments in a prepared script, but did not tell viewers what Floyd had said and would not categorize the remarks other than to say that they were “racially insensitive.” It was left to HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg to more forthrightly tell this writer, “I think I speak for everybody at HBO when I say that we were appalled by Floyd’s comments. There’s no place for that type of racist rant in our society, and I hope it never happens again.”

Mayweather, of course, has played the race card in the past when he felt that it worked to his advantage. Once, during contract negotiations, he publicly denounced an HBO offer as “slave wages.” Two years ago, he said that HBO’s announcing team was “racist” and singled out Jim Lampley (a committed advocate of equal rights) for criticism.

Floyd’s racist homophobic rant against Pacquiao offered a window onto his thinking where the dignity of others is concerned. It also led some to connect the dots to another incident where ethnicity was an issue.

On March 4th of this year, Mayweather appeared at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles for a press conference to promote his May 1st fight against Shane Mosley. Afterward, several Filipino writers complained that they had been barred from interviewing Floyd because they’re Filipino.

Chino Trinidad (who covered the press conference for the GMA network) recounted, “We were waiting for our opportunity to talk to Floyd, and other journalists kept being taken to him ahead of us. Finally, we got up to the stage and a woman named Kelly Swanson [Mayweather’s publicist] said to me, ‘You’re Filipino, right?’ I told her yes, and she said, “Floyd Mayweather will not do interviews with the Filipino media.”

Swanson denied the allegation. On March 5th, she told Paula Duffy of Examiner.com, “Two individuals approached me about talking with Floyd after all the other television crews had finished. Floyd was already off the stage, signing autographs with fans. They arrived after the other TV crews were gone. I told them that Floyd was not going to answer questions related to Manny Pacquiao and drug testing. I at no time refused them the opportunity to speak with Floyd Mayweather. They were welcome to go down to where he was with the fans and wait to see if he would give them an interview.”

That denial infuriates Trinidad, who says, “The statement of Kelly Swanson is false. They did this to us only because we are Filipino. She told us that we could not interview Mayweather because we are Filipino. This is something that cannot be ignored.”

No tape of the incident is known to exist. Thus, the controversy lingers.

Meanwhile, Mayweather was careening toward an even more dangerous confrontation.

Over the years, Floyd has had significant issues with women and the criminal justice system in Nevada. In 2002, he pled guilty to two counts of domestic violence. In 2004, he was found guilty on two counts of misdemeanor battery for assaulting two women in a Las Vegas night club.

On another front, Mayweather was on the fringes of an August 2009 shooting incident that took place outside a Las Vegas skating rink. His Rolls Royce was spotted at the shooting scene and one of his associates, Ocie Harris, was indicted on attempted murder charges for shooting at two passengers in another car. After the shooting, police searched Mayweather’s house, looking for evidence. Harris’s lawyer has said that his client is being used as a pawn by police and prosecutors in an effort to link the shooting to Mayweather.

Additionally, in February 2005, Floyd was fined and ordered to perform community service after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges in conjunction with an altercation that took place in a bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Thirty-year-old Josie Harris is the mother of three of Mayweather’s children, ages ten through seven. She and Floyd have had a tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship for years.

In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 9th, according to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report, Harris was out at the Red Rock Casino. She returned home at 2:30 AM to find that Mayweather had “let himself in” to her residence and was talking with their three children. Why children between the ages of seven and ten were up at 2:30 in the morning is another matter.

At that point, according to Harris, Mayweather began searching through her belongings and accused her of dating another man. He was loud and abusive. She called the police. The officers arrived. She told them that she wanted Mayweather to leave. He said that he owned the house and wanted to evict her. The officers advised him that, to do so, he would have to go through a lawful eviction process. At approximately 3:00 AM, the officers escorted Floyd from Harris’s home.

That should have been the end of it. But according to the police report, Mayweather returned at approximately 5:00 AM with a friend named James McNair. One of the children opened the door and let them in. Harris was asleep on a couch. She woke up when Mayweather, who was holding her cell phone and reading text messages, began yelling at her, “Are you having sex with C.J.?”

Knowing Floyd, one might speculate that what he really asked was “Are you fucking C.J.?” Be that as it may; Harris says that she answered, “Yes; that’s who I’m seeing now.”

“C.J.” has been identified in several media reports as C.J. Watson, who plays for the Chicago Bulls. Watson has denied that a sexual relationship exists between Harris and himself.

Harris says that Mayweather then pulled her off the couch, assaulted her in front of their children, and threatened to kill her. More specifically, she told police that Floyd struck her "multiple times in the head with his fist," was "pulling me by my hair and throwing me on the ground in my living room,” began "dragging me on the floor and twisting my arm back; continued to beat me in front of the children,” and shouted, “I’m going to kill you and the man you’re messing around with. I’m going to have you both disappear.”

Harris screamed for the children to call the police or run to the security guard station outside their home. Mayweather, she says, told the children that he’d beat their ass if they did.

Koraun (the couple’s ten year-old son) told police that he saw his father hitting and kicking his mother. McNair was blocking the front entrance, so he ran out the back door and summoned a friend of his mother’s named Georgia Parker. Parker called the police. Koraun then went to the security guard station and told the guard what was happening.

Mayweather took Harris’s cell phone and cell phones belonging to two of their children and left.

Police officers responded to the call and brought Harris to Southern Hills Hospital, where she was treated for minor facial injuries and a sore left arm.

When the Clark County District Attorney’s office reviewed Harris’s complaint, it had a problem. Seven years earlier, she’d lodged similar allegations against Mayweather, accusing him of hitting and kicking her during an argument outside a Las Vegas nightclub. Then, at trial in 2005, she recanted, testifying under oath that Floyd was a “teddy bear" who "would never lay a hand" on her and that she had lied to police officers because she was angry he’d left her for another woman. Mayweather was acquitted.

Given that history, a good defense lawyer could be expected to decimate Harris on cross-examination.

This time, though, the District Attorney’s office had an ace in the hole. Two aces, actually.

Two of the cute little children who Mayweather put before the cameras on 24/7 to establish his credentials as a good father corroborated Harris’s story.

On September 16th, after some preliminary legal maneuvering, Mayweather was formally charged pursuant to an eight-count criminal complaint that alleges he committed the following crimes:

(1) Battery constituting domestic violence (Nevada Revised Statutes, sections 200.481 and 200.485) for grabbing Josie Harris by the hair, throwing her to the floor, striking her with his fist, and twisting her arm.

(2) Harassment (200.571) for threatening to kill Josie Harris and her boyfriend or make her and her boyfriend “disappear.”

(3) Coercion (207.190) for threatening to beat Koraun and Zion if they telephoned 911.

(4) Harassment (200.571) for threatening to “beat” Koraun’s and Zion’s “ass.”

(5) Robbery (200.380) and grand larceny (205.222, a less serious property offense) for taking Josie Harris’s cell phone;

A court appearance is scheduled for November 9th, at which time Mayweather must enter a plea in response to the charges against him.

If Harris provides prosecutors with evidence that she was paid to recant her 2003 allegations of domestic violence or recanted because she was threatened with personal injury, there could be additional charges for witness tampering and other crimes relating to the obstruction of justice.

Mayweather’s defense attorney is Richard Wright, who represented him at the 2005 trial. In the months ahead, one can expect Wright to say all the things that defense lawyers say in the course of representing a client.

Unfortunately, two of Floyd’s most prominent associates seem to be adhering to a similar standard.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer (Mayweather’s most recent promoter) and Al Haymon (Floyd’s de facto manager) are two of the most powerful people in boxing. Earlier this year, Schaefer spent months talking about the need for Olympic-style testing to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing drugs from the sport. Those months coincided with the build-up to Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley (promoted by Golden Boy) and the efforts of Team Mayweather to brand Manny Pacquiao as a user.

Once Mayweather-Mosley was over, the issue of Olympic-style drug testing seemed to vanish from Schaefer’s agenda. Later, Richard supported the bizarre claim of Leonard Ellerbe (Floyd’s personal assistant) that there had been no negotiations earlier this year aimed at consummating a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Haymon tiptoed around the PED and negotiations issues, although Ross Greenburg says that Al was Mayweather’s representative in the negotiations.

Then Mayweather went viral with his racist homophobic rant.

Let’s change the paradigm a bit. Suppose Mayweather went on UStream.com and declared, “Richard Schaefer is a faggot foreigner, who should go back to where he came from. Make me some wiener schnitzel, Richard.”

Or suppose one of Al Haymon’s enemies (he has a few) took to the air and raged, “Al Haymon is a shiftless lazy watermelon-eating parasite.”

Those insults would outrage their targets, and justifiably so. Schaefer and Haymon would expect others to condemn anyone who made them, as well they should.

So why are they silent on this issue? The fact that they have a business relationship with Mayweather is not a valid excuse. By their silence, they’ve turned away from the responsibility that good citizens have to rebut bigoted utterances.

It should also be noted that, when Oscar De La Hoya fought Ricardo Mayorga in 2006, Mayorga spewed ugly insults and homophobic venom. At that time, Schaefer declared, “I’m not pleased to be associated with a person like Mayorga, but this is boxing so I guess we have to do it."

De La Hoya was more pointed in his condemnation of “all this anger and hatred," saying, “Mayorga started disrespecting me, he insulted my heritage. I personally think he’s bad for boxing.”

But that was then. Now is now.

Schaefer and De La Hoya said nothing publicly about Mayweather’s bigoted rant. Then, when Floyd was arrested following his confrontation with Josie Harris, Richard suggested that the cure for what ails him is a return to the ring (presumably under Golden Boy’s promotional guidance).

"The spotlight is a glorious light at times,” Schaefer told the Los Angeles Times. “But it can be a hard light too. For many, their athletic environment is a kingdom, a real place to find refuge from outside influences. The same is true for Floyd. He’s a gym rat. Maybe he needs to get back in there and fight again, so we can all enjoy his amazing talents."

"That squared circle is the best thing that can ever happen to a fighter,” De La Hoya added. “The squared circle is what saves you from everything. If it’s Mayweather fighting as often as three, four times a year, maybe that’s what he has to do.”

Or maybe, like Mike Tyson, Mayweather has to deal with his problems away from the ring before he self-destructs completely.

Thus, the question: “When is enough?” For Mayweather and for boxing.

There are still a lot of people who think that the sweet science needs Floyd Mayweather and, in particular, Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Jeff MacGregor (a sage observer of the sporting scene) takes a contrary view. “If that’s what it takes to save boxing,” MacGregor writes, “let it die. In fact, grab that pillow and help me smother it on its deathbed.”

Ironically, there’s a school of thought that Mayweather’s recent troubles increase the chances that Pacquiao-Mayweather will happen. Floyd, this reasoning goes, now needs the fight to rehabilitate his image. Moreover, if he were to signal his intention to fight Pacquiao in Las Vegas, some significant power brokers might put pressure on the Clark County district attorney’s office to plea-bargain in a lenient way.

Mayweather’s “fuck you” to the world would be beating Pacquiao. The world’s “fuck you” to Mayweather would be telling him, “Whether or not boxing thinks it needs you, the rest of us don’t.”


Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (“Waiting For Carver Boyd”) was published by JR Books and can be purchased at http://www.amazon.co.uk/ or http://www.abebooks.com.


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