Floyd Mayweather: The shameless boxer who punches women as hard as his rivals
Over the years many people have tried to get close to Floyd Mayweather. And every one of them – opponents, wives, girlfriends and children - have ended up in the same way: bloodied, beaten and battered.
When it comes to Mayweather, anyone who values their personal safety is advised to keep well away. He has fists that hurt. And he is more than happy to use them.
International boxing has long sold itself as a battle between good and evil. The economics of such a construct are simple: the more the public feels committed to a moral dispute, the more money is generated.
Generally, it is a sales device; there is usually little to choose in moral outlook between the protagonists. Frankly, neither is ever likely to be in the running when choosing the next Pope.
But in the case of the Fight of the Millennium, as today ’s Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao encounter modestly likes to portray itself, there is no question where each fighter stands. This really is a place where the good and the bad are in direct collision. This is a fight where the choice is stark.
In the saintly corner is Pacquiao, the man whose benevolent works in his home country are so extensive he is known as the Philippines social service, the man whose generosity to other human beings is extraordinary; a man who boxes in order to help improve the lot of his fellow citizen.
And in the bad is Mayweather, the preening acquisitive narcissist, the man who sneeringly burns hundred dollar bills simply because he can, the man who regards the accumulation of money as providing a protection from responsibility, consequence and accountability.
When it comes to doing a deal with the devil, Mayweather long ago surrendered all sense of personal restriction in return for sporting success. This is a man who believes he can get away with anything.
And in a sense he has.
What makes Mayweather all the more alarming is that when you watch him fight there is nothing uncontrolled about him, not a single move that is not meticulously calibrated.
He does not fight by emotion, he boxes by calculus. In the ring, he waits and waits, a coiled spring, his brain computing his options, before pouncing at the precise moment his opponent is at their most vulnerable.
Fighters who try to get close can barely lay a glove on him, as he sways, serpent like, from the hip, his balance protecting him from the most ferocious of assault. He appears to demonstrate the very apex of zen-like control.
Which makes his behaviour in his private life beyond disturbing. When it comes to his personal relations, his is less a charge sheet than a diabolical roll call of shame.
He has punched the mother of his children, he has beaten up two female acquaintances in a night club, he has pointed a loaded gun at a girlfriend’s foot and asked her to choose which toe she wanted blown off.
Seven assaults against five women he has totted up. And those are just the ones who have filed complaints. In every case, if he has behaved like he does in the ring, he has not been a victim of his own passion. He has known precisely what he is doing. His violence is utterly purposeful, utterly controlled and utterly despicable.
And yet he seems convinced he has done nothing wrong. He is – and this will hardly come as a surprise - a monumental hypocrite. In 2007, when he fought the late Diego Corrales, who was at the time on charge for beating his pregnant wife, he announced he would beat the Mexican not just for the cash or the title, but for “every battered woman out there”. He attacked a former girlfriend for dating another man when he himself was living with another woman.
It is not as if no-one knows this. He has served time for battery. He has handed over thousands of dollars in public fines, and millions in hush money to pay off complainants. And yet, while Mike Tyson was rightly demonised for his recorded crimes against women, ignominy does not seem to stick to Mayweather. Blame slides off him, like a rival’s punches. In the build-up to this fight, those journalists who have got close enough to ask the question about his attitude to women (and Mayweather is no Muhammed Ali when it comes to accommodating interest from outside) have found he has always sidestepped any explanation. Somehow, as he ducks and dives, bobs and weaves, he is able to continue in his shameless accumulation of mountains of cash, eschewing contrition, happily dismissive of every attempt to point up his immorality.
His defenders – and rest assured there are plenty of those, poisoning the public conversation with their libels on the beaten women’s probity, claiming they are drunks, or druggies or gold-diggers, as if any of that justifies what Mayweather did to them – insist none of this is relevant to his place in the sporting pantheon. The logic of their claim is that his extraordinary physical prowess makes him immune to criticism of his private life. All that matters for them is what happens in the ring.
Of course it would be naïve for those of us who value sporting excellence to wish our champions always to be decent human beings. To be successful in sport requires a wholly selfish intensity, a need to put aside all outside consideration and concentrate solely on the individual. But Mayweather is a particularly disgusting individual, a man who flaunts his immorality, who believes that wealth and renown gives him a free pass to allow him to continue his calculated assaults on those unable to match his physical powers.
It is worth recalling this if you are one of the many who have bolstered his bank account by paying £20 to watch him take on Pacquiao on television this evening. The least anyone can do is hope the great Filipino hands him a significant beating on behalf of those he has traduced. Sadly, the odds suggest it is not going to happen. The chances are after picking up more than 150 million dollars for his night’s work, Mayweather will cruise on, convinced of his own invincibility, leaving a trial not of glory, but of blood and broken noses.