Did you watch the fight?
Pay-Per-View fights have become such events in our culture, we just say the fight.
But just so we’re on the same page, I mean the Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather—Miguel Cotto fight in Las Vegas last Saturday night. Chances are, you probably did; it’s estimated that there were nearly 2 million PPV buys at $69.95 each. Mayweather earned a guaranteed $32 million and a cut of the PPV haul, so as much as $50 million.
Good for him. I’m not a hater.
Even though I am an enthusiastic sports fan, I did not watch the fight. In all honesty, I’m not really a boxing fan, but I am passionate about sports. I can get as caught up as the next person. Let me explain why I did not get caught up this time.
Were it not for a Justice of the Peace in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather would not have been boxing on Saturday May 5th. On January 6th of this year Mayweather was set to begin serving a 90-sentence jail sentence. Why? Because he pleaded guilty to domestic violence and no contest to two harassment charges. Back in September 2010, according to the complaint, Mayweather pulled his ex-girlfriend’s hair, punched her and twisted her arm. That was all in front of their children.
No, we weren’t there. But it’s fascinating to me that domestic violence is, along with rape, one of the only crimes that prompts people to question the judgment of the courts. All too often, an admitted or convicted abuser often gets the benefit of the doubt with the fateful “We weren’t there.” The implication is always the same, especially when the abuser is a celebrity: the victim is lying.
We also weren’t there in 2002 when Mayweather was charged with domestic violence. He pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentenced and house arrest. We weren’t there in 2005 when he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault stemming from a bar fight. He was fined and ordered to perform community service. Mayweather has a history of arrests related to violence. How many incidents that we didn’t personally witness need to take place before we start believing this man doesn’t save his violence for the ring?
But back to that sentence. Mayweather’s attorney asked for a six- month delay in his client serving jail time. Nothing wrong with asking; that’s a defense lawyer’s job. What’s outrageous is that Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa agreed. She ruled Mayweather could show up for his sentence on June 1.
This is where the abuser’s nickname comes into play: Money. Mayweather’s lawyers argued that this fight could have a $100 million fiscal impact on the city of Vegas and that their client would donate money to a breast cancer charity.
I’ve been waiting all week to hear some outrage about this, and all I hear are crickets.
Seriously, let’s get this straight. Mayweather’s plea boiled down to, “Judge, I have to work, so I don’t have time to go to jail.”
Could a mailman say that? Could a garbage collector say that? Could your brother who works at McDonald get out of going to jail by saying “I need to work?” I can’t say it’s never happened, but it’s certainly not common. We know why it happened this time. This was a stunning accommodation for a wealthy celebrity – one whose “work” brings a fortune into his community.
Even with Mayweather’s fame, if he’d been guilty of any other violent crime, he would likely never have gotten the postponement. But this was “just” domestic abuse…and we weren’t there.
I mentioned I’m a sports fan. I also believe in redemption. I’ve followed Michael Vicks’s career. He is one of the most gifted and at one time, highly paid athletes of his generation. We know why his life and career came crumbling down: the brutal and inexcusable abuse and killing of dogs. You can forgive him or not, but the truth is that Vick lost his job, went to prison, went bankrupt, suffered life altering consequences. He has shown remorse and the desire to change in the face of scorn, outrage and protests.
Seen any scorn, outrage, protests over the mistreatment and abuse of women by Mayweather? Any life altering consequences? No. Just a “show up to jail when it works for you.” It’s rare that sports writers even ask him about his record of violence against women. When he was asked about his impending jail sentence after defeating Cotto, Mayweather replied that it “came with the territory.”
Am I ‘hatin’ on Mayweather, as is the common accusation when pointing out an abuser’s behavior? No.
Am I calling for protests? No.
What I am calling out is our collective refusal to ask a simple question: when will a woman and her safety have more value in our society than money and fame?
Isn’t she worth at least $69.95?
(This op-ed appeared on HLNTV.com)