All week, people have been asking me where I plan to watch The Fight. And all week, I've told them to wait for this column to understand my answer: I'm not.
My Bloomberg View colleague Stephen L. Carter isn't, either, for reasons he details in his own piece -- namely, the immense physical damage boxing causes. That's all well and good, and brain trauma is certainly one reason for the steady decline of the sport's popularity (though the same threat hasn't made a dent in the juggernaut that is pro football). But my issue is this: I can't, in good conscience, let one dollar of my money -- certainly not 100 of them -- support Floyd Mayweather Jr.
More than any other sport, boxing's viewers directly reward athletes, because final purses are determined by pay-per-view revenue. More than any other sport, boxing is built on a glorification of violence that is also steeped in a rich tradition of racial tension. And more than any other sport, boxing seems capable of not just ignoring, but enabling -- even encouraging -- violence against women.
There are 400 million reasons why Mayweather will be allowed to step in the ring Saturday night, but four even bigger reasons why he shouldn't be: the four women he has beaten.
This is where I have to point out that yes, he's been convicted; yes, he's served jail time; and no, there aren't photos. Because if the Ray Rice incident finally gave voice to anti-domestic-violence advocates, it also brought out the anti-victim crowd, quick to call every accuser a liar and demand visual proof of an attack. If you really need something to look at, take a gander at the handwriting of Mayweather's then-10-year-old son in this police report: "My dad was hiting my mom"; "my dad kick my mom"; "then my mom told me to run."
The incident report provides even more sickening details on the attack on the boy's mother, Josie Harris, who was not in a relationship with Mayweather at the time: "Harris awoke to Mayweather over her striking her in back of her head with a closed fist several times. Mayweather also pulled Harris hair and twisted her left arm. ... During the incident Mayweather told Harris, 'I'm going to kill you and the man you are messing around with.' He also stated 'I'm going to get someone to pour acid on you.' Harris yelled for her children to call police. Mayweather threatened them with violence if they did call police."
Mayweather denies it all, calling his victims -- including his children -- liars, using the lack of visual evidence to his advantage. "No bumps, no bruises, no nothing," he said. "You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman."
"He is a coward," his son told USA Today last year. And he's allowed to continue being one by those who find him so darn profitable.
Even without the accusations of at least seven attacks on five different victims, Mayweather has been allowed to skate by with a prehistoric attitude toward women, comparing them to cars and saying a woman is "asking to be disrespected" if she dresses a certain way. He even uses the linguistic trademark of misogynists everywhere: referring to women as "females."
But there's no such thing as a gaffe, a misstep or a career-ending domestic-violence scandal in the Mayweather empire, because in boxing, money is the only thing that talks. The Nevada State Athletic Commission approved his boxing license last week; it has denied licenses to other fighters for offenses far less egregious than Mayweather's. When ESPN's "Outside the Lines" asked an official about the glaring inconsistency and oversight, she simply stated that the commission felt Mayweather had been properly dealt with in the courts.
We should ask ourselves why that answer is acceptable from the NSAC when it's unacceptable from Roger Goodell.
The fight is expected to generate an estimated $400 million in revenue, with Mayweather's take pegged at around $150 million. That's $150 million coming directly from the pockets of fans and viewers who might not realize that simply by watching a boxing match, they're directly supporting a man who has attacked women.
If this doesn't sit well with you, I invite you to join me Saturday night in avoiding this loathsome spectacle. Turn off the television and #BoycottMayweather.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.
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