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Fugel: After the spectacle, the shame

I did not watch Mayweather-Pacquiao on Saturday. I did not do so because Floyd Mayweather is a despicable human being. What’s worse, he is the living embodiment of a worrying trend, which we could term as some national media figures’ desire to protect and absolve their heroes of wrongdoing, regardless of the human cost that may be involved.

Floyd Mayweather is a domestic abuser; this much is not in doubt. He has been convicted or cited of seven separate physical assaults on five different women, over a period of 13 years. This is a pattern of violence indicative of a man who shows no concern for those he purports to love. This is a history of domestic abuse.

Floyd Mayweather’s son gave a horrifying testimony in court stating that, “[M]y dad was hitting her and when my dad left he took my phone and my friend was blocking the stairs.” Floyd Mayweather, meanwhile threatened to “beat their asses (his 10 and 9 year old sons) if they left the house or called the police.”

Floyd Mayweather, after finding out that his girlfriend had broken up with him, posted a picture of Shantel Jackson’s sonogram, stating that he broke up with her because she got an abortion and stating that she had “killed our twin babies.”

Floyd Mayweather posted a picture of Shantel in an unflattering light with the caption, “Before all the plastic surgery I had to pay for. I’m an Indian giver I want my money back.”

Floyd Mayweather is a ‘coward’, according to his son Koraun.

Floyd Mayweather, according to the Las Vegas Police Department, grabbed the mother of his children, Josee Harris, “by her hair and twisted her left arm…. yelling ‘I’m going to kill you and the man you’re messing with.”

Floyd Mayweather has never shown any remorse for these actions. Floyd Mayweather is a despicable man.

If the above list seems long to you, I’d invite you to consider the fact that the time Mayweather has spent a terror in the lives of these assorted women and children can only have seemed infinitely longer to them. Floyd Mayweather has no business continuing to be inside of a boxing ring.

However, this would not be what certain members of the national media would have you believe.  We have Michael Wilbon telling us that we are ‘naïve’ to expect a boxer not to engage in criminal activity. Apparently, it is naïve to expect some sort of societal progress to have been achieved since the days when Jack Johnson could only fight tomato can opponents because everyone assumed he was a criminal. To call Wilbon’s wording here mistaken is an understatement, as he seems to be insisting that just because a state of affairs has been in place for an extended period of time, we should do nothing in our power to change it.

This is the plight of issues of domestic violence in America — that men such as Wilbon still make the assumption that not only is it entrenched in American society, but that we cannot and should not expect change. Michael Wilbon is a coward as well, but a coward with the power to shape the narrative of Floyd Mayweather in the way that he reports on the man himself. Why should we care about Josee Harris as it’s ‘naïve’ to assume that such a vile crime should not be inflicted upon anyone, let alone her?

And now, of course, as we must when we talk about bloviating media figures more concerned with the extension of their own brand than with the production of any accurate narrative, to Stephen A. Smith. At this point, calling out Stephen A. Smith for what appears to be a complete inability to process social issues that exist outside of his narrow world of engaging with sub-third level debate with Skip Bayless is passé. He inhabits his own sphere of awful journalism, a sphere that happens to be largely misogynistic and devoid of any sort of consideration of the awful effects Stephen’s ‘friends’ like Mayweather can enact.

2010 Stephen A. Smith on Twitter is shockingly, hard-pressed to believe that Floyd Mayweather could ever put his hands on a woman, despite the mountain of overwhelming evidence that has accrued to suggest otherwise. 2015 Stephen A. Smith has made no effort to enlighten himself. He still believes that any criticism of Mayweather comes from a female perspective, telling his First Take wrangler Cari Champion on April 8 that, “she’s a woman, and this is how she feels.”

This is the type of argument that actively fights against the justice that victims of domestic violence deserve. It reduces a horrifying crime to that sphere of ‘female problems,’ like wearing the wrong eyeliner or showing up in a matching dress. It trivializes what is a disturbingly frequent crime, it implies that half our population have no reason to feel that the beating and assault of a woman is wrong and it deprives women of the agency to express an entirely justified critique of Mayweather.

Stephen A. Smith is a coward. And when a coward arrives at a position where he can profess these harmful viewpoints, it is dangerous. Stephen A. Smith is no longer an idiot; he is an idiot with the power to distill a narrative into flashy ‘Money’ Mayweather, with the big cars and the nice house and the skeletons and bruises that litter a gold-lined closet.

Floyd Mayweather is not someone you should support. That is obvious. But neither should you support the continued public profile of men like Wilbon and Smith, who contribute to the trivialization of domestic violence. This isn’t about a ‘female problem,’ it’s not about having photo evidence, it’s not about what boxing has always been. It’s about not condoning domestic violence — something Wilbon and Smith have never understood.

Contact Dylan Fugel at dfugel ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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