LAS VEGAS (AP) — The spokeswoman from FanDuel was having trouble answering the question. Not her fault, really, because others involved with Floyd Mayweather Jr. struggle with the same thing.
In the fantasy gaming website’s case it was this: Why would any company attach its name — literally in FanDuel’s case — to a fighter who has a history of beating women?
The spokeswoman paused, trying to find the right words.
“Of course FanDuel doesn’t condone any of Floyd’s prior incidents,” she finally said. “But as a sports entertainment company we will be front and center at one of the biggest sporting events in the history of boxing.”
No need to make moral judgments. Not when there’s business to be done with a fighter expected to make some $180 million Saturday night in boxing’s richest fight ever.
FanDuel will be the only sponsor on Mayweather’s trunks when he fights Manny Pacquiao, but the company is not alone in tying itself to the unbeaten fighter. Showtime, which is owned by CBS, had no problem signing Mayweather to a huge contract despite his problems outside the ring, and the MGM Grand not only hosts Mayweather’s fights but often has his image draped across the outside of its building.
Meanwhile, celebrities and high rollers aren’t thinking twice about paying $10,000 for a floor seat to see and be seen at his biggest fight.
Business as usual, in a sport where these kinds of things tend to be tolerated. And there is no bigger business right now than a fight that will make a lot of people rich and Mayweather even richer.
If the story line of this fight, as Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach suggests, is good versus evil, it’s easy to tell the fighters apart. Pacquiao is a born-again Christian who quotes Bible verses. He is a congressman back home in his native Philippines.
Mayweather is a great boxer who can’t keep his hands off the women in his life. He has been charged on at least five occasions on domestic abuse allegations, including the 2010 attack on the mother of three of his children that landed him in jail for two months.
“When Manny beats Mayweather, it won’t only be about unifying the welterweight titles,” Roach said. “It will also be a public service to boxing.”
Pacquiao, of course, has more to worry about than cleaning up the sport. He will face a fighter whose brilliance in the ring has never been questioned.
It’s Mayweather’s life outside the ring that is questionable. And nothing is more questionable than his conduct toward women and his continued refusal to own up to it.
Consider his answer to a question about domestic violence before his last fight in September, when Mayweather suggested that he was unjustly jailed for attacking Josie Harris.
“Like I’ve said in the past, no bumps, no bruises, no nothing,” Mayweather said. “With O.J. and Nicole, you seen pictures. With Chris Brown and Rihanna, you seen pictures. With (Chad) Ochocinco and Evelyn, you seen pictures. You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman, a woman who says she was kicked and beaten (by Mayweather). So I just live my life and try to stay positive, and try to become a better person each and every day.”
What Mayweather conveniently forgot to mention was that he pleaded guilty to the charges. He would have risked facing 34 years in prison had he been convicted at trial.
That would have been a huge roll of the dice for Mayweather, who in the police report from that day was accused of holding Harris by the hair and punching her repeatedly in the head. Jurors would have seen the video from the guard shack in his gated neighborhood showing his three children running inside for safety and Harris later being wheeled off on a stretcher clutching her head.
Today, though, he’s unrepentant, and unapologetic. And why not, when all the sycophants around him cheer his every move and people throw money at him to see him fight.
It showed again on Tuesday when he complained about not been allowed to see three of his children.
“That’s been bothering me a lot,” Mayweather said. “You know how women are sometimes.”
This isn’t the NFL, which undoubtedly would have punished Mayweather after his conviction. There is regulation of boxing in Nevada, but Nevada boxing commissioners have done little but politely ask Mayweather if he’s complied with all the terms of his sentence.
The same judge who sentenced Mayweather postponed the sentence so he would be able to fight Miguel Cotto before serving it. The delayed sentence came about after a Mayweather attorney argued that the city’s economy would take hit if Mayweather couldn’t fight over the Cinco de Mayo weekend.
So far in this promotion, Mayweather has ignored the relatively few questions asked about his actions outside the ring. Most journalists don’t even bother to ask, because the answer is always disingenuous.
There’s nothing wrong with Mayweather claiming he’s served his time and should be able to move on. Nothing at all, assuming he also owns up to his own actions as a man.
Just don’t let him pretend that none of it ever happened.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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