To him, we say: goodbye, and good riddance.
Mayweather leaves behind two legacies as he exits the world he has inhabited for decades. On the one hand, there is his legacy as a fighter. Unambiguously one of the greatest athletes of his generation. Mayweather has irritated some historians of the game by designating himself “the Best Ever,” but there is at least an argument there if you want to make it. He was great in the ring.
But for many people, whatever Mayweather did in the ring can’t overshadow what he did outside of it: What he did to the mother of his children. What he did in front of his children. What he did to woman after woman after woman. Mayweather is a serial batterer who refuses to own up to what he did, to come to terms with his violence against the women he supposedly loved. He hasn’t even tried.
What’s worse is that we’ve let him get away with it. Mayweather pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars off two fights alone this year because we paid to watch him box. He’s pulled in more than $800 million over his career. Bill Simmons defended watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in May under the rationale that since boxing is filled with so many “criminals, thugs and despicable characters” anyway, there was no use boycotting one match for a temporary sense of moral superiority.
“We’re not making the world a better place through boxing; that ship sailed long ago,” Simmons wrote at the time. “This isn’t a sport where you can just pick and choose your viewing based on some arbitrary (but well-intentioned) moral compass.”
Simmons’ line of reasoning makes sense. If you boycott Mayweather fights, do you need to boycott any other boxer or celebrity with a criminal record as well? But once you burrow down that line of reasoning, it becomes difficult to imagine taking a stand on any issue -- inside boxing or outside of it -- without feeling like a hypocrite. And sometimes, you need to accept the contradiction and take a stand anyway. The fact that other people do bad things too shouldn’t allow us to excuse a man who wouldn't admit the truth even after his own child wrote at length about his father beating his mother.
No one is perfect, but Mayweather is just so far from it. To let him ride into the sunset a fighter first and a beater second is to passively accept one of the largest problems in our country. Twenty-four percent of women over 18 have experienced “severe physical violence” at the hand of an intimate partner. Thirty-five percent have been raped, physically violated or stalked by an intimate partner. Violence against women in this country is an epidemic more important than sports. Our willingness to ignore what’s right in front of us for the sake of entertainment is as much an indictment of us as it is of Mayweather.
There likely won’t be any more Mayweather matches to boycott. But there’s still one way to boycott Mayweather. Instead of remembering 49-0, remember 4-9-0.
Four for the number of women Mayweather has been found guilty of beating. Nine for the age of Mayweather’s son Zion when the boy said he saw Mayweather “punching [his mother] in the head.” And zero for the number of times the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Mayweather as a result.
“What I will miss most about the sport [is] the haters,” Mayweather said in the lead-up to his final match against Andre Berto on Saturday. “I will miss all the jealous haters.”
Good to know, Floyd. The haters won’t miss you.
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