Quick Jabs: Floyd Mayweather Criticism, Good And Bad; Al Haymon’s Moves; More

bernard-hopkins-body-issue

Very sorry. Look, having pictures in articles is a good thing from the standpoint of bloggery best practices. There isn’t a lot photographically to show you right now, so you get a graphic glance (or stare, given your inclinations) at naked 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins, from ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue.

This edition of Quick Jabs is going to be a bit unusual, because it’s going to be divided up by issue area, with separate sub-headings. Those subheadings include the subjects in the headline — “Floyd Mayweather,” “Al Haymon” — along with “random boxing business” and “videos.”

FLOYD MAYWEATHER

Daniel Roberts, aka Iron Mike Gallego, does some of the finest boxing writing in the business. For Deadspin, he captured the full scope of Floyd Mayweather’s misogyny and history of physical assaults on women, as well as providing some commentary on the degree of the boxing media’s complacency about same. On the first point, he has done a tremendous service. Each Mayweather arrest, each Mayweather nasty remark about women, gets some attention. But there’s a certain point where you step back and examine the totality of it to grasp how awful it all is, and IMG has done so in great detail. In another sport, Mayweather would surely have been fined or suspended out of existence by now, or else changed his ways, but boxing’s lack of a central authority, and boxing’s embrace of its reputation as the red light district of sports, means his antics fly because he has enough of an audience to get away with it.

That gets to the part where I differ with IMG a little, and that’s the media’s handling of Mayweather’s offenses. IMG is correct on his overarching point that the media goes too gentle on Mayweather and women, and provides valid specific examples. I would argue that the mainstream media goes easier on him than even the boxing media, and, again, IMG provides an Associated Press example, so it’s not as if he doesn’t cover it. But even the writers he criticizes have provided a great deal of coverage of Mayweather’s misbehavior. It’s just that they’ve given less coverage than writers in other sports might. Think of how inescapable the media questioning would be for an NFL player who had committed the equivalent of Mayweather’s sins, some of which has to do with volume of reporters, and some of which would drive the kind of suspensions we see when anybody dips their toe in that level of sin in the NFL. Here’s the bottom line, which makes IMG more right than not: The richest athlete on the planet commits these horrible acts, but he doesn’t get the level of attention and condemnation for them an athlete in a more mainstream sport might. You’d think he might, even with boxing at the periphery of sports journalism’s attention, because “richest athlete on the planet” and all.

For my part, it’s a constant struggle. I shit on Mayweather over all this so much that I wonder if I do it too much sometimes. He’s a horrible person and there’s no real other way to view it, and I say it a lot. I shit on him more than I do fighters who have committed other and even arguably worse offenses (although all of them get at least a little bit of the business) because he’s the guy we write about most as the biggest attraction and as the best fighter in the world. I even count him among my favorite fighters, something based purely on his in-ring performance, a distinction I’m able to draw. But one of the interesting aspects about that Grantland piece on light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson is that it’s not easy to decide when to bring up this kind of outside the ring awfulness. All I know is that IMG’s piece is a good service for shining a very bright light on Mayweather’s horribleness, and for raising questions about what the media ought to be saying about it.

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I was hesitant to even talk about the UCN piece about Mayweather and the plantation, because it strikes me as a transparent bid for this. But people are talking about it, and that makes it hard not to talk about it. Our man Alex McClintock summed it up best: “Is it OK to say that because Mayweather has a promoter he’s ‘picking cotton’?” The answer is, of course, no, not really. And the commenters on the article make a good point, too: Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter of the fight, isn’t even Mayweather’s boss or “master,” to extend the painfully poor metaphor. Mayweather hires De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, not the other way around.

Racial politics are always going to inspire heated passions, and I’m just a white dude, but thinking about it from the outside (and besides, nobody alive in America has experienced American slavery): The worst things about slavery, I would imagine, would be the forced labor, the non-consensual assaults by bullwhip, the zero pay. So if you’re going to make a metaphor of it, you better have a solid foundation. Mayweather is forced into nothing. He is assaulted, sure, but by his choice, and not because he’s tied to a pole and made to endure a bullwhip defenselessly. And he is the richest athlete in the world. So what, really, is the slavery comparison? There isn’t grounds for it. He’s not his own master? Except he is,  because he employs De La Hoya, not vice versa. And even if he was an employee, that would make him like 99.9999999% of the world. Almost everybody has a boss, somebody they have to report to in exchange for their services. That’s not in any fashion like picking cotton at the barrel of a gun.

There are some other fundamentally flawed things about the article, like his estimation of what President Obama is spending on immigration and why. “The African-American president whom Floyd lied about having on speed-dial is throwing 3.7 billion dollars toward immigration, therefore cementing the next three generations of Golden Boy customers,” Martin Wade noted, as if that $3.7 billion was going toward bringing more Hispanic immigrants into the United States, when almost all of it is for exactly the opposite, and by the way, that supplemental $3.7 billion is just a fraction of the approximately $18 billion we spend annually on border security and enforcing immigration laws aimed at reducing the number of people in the country illegally — more money than on all other federal law enforcement activities combined.

Some contend the piece is racist, which is not exactly accurate, but it does make a few sweeping generalizations that are a bit offensive, like about how black women who raised black men of a certain age are “programmed to root for the acquisition of consumer goods,” or like how talking about feelings is “an effeminate and vindictive trait,” or some vaguely hostile-sounding comments about the idea of Hispanic people taking over America and somehow becoming slave masters with the help of black people. What’s too bad about the piece is that it makes some very good points, and Wade has a flair for writing. Mayweather should be building an empire and/or helping the poor rather than throwing a bunch of money at his girlfriend of the moment; Mayweather did look foolish by saying “screw Golden Boy” then going back to them; Mayweather has not yet shown great interest in being a promoter of other fighters, and he could be leading by example but isn’t; Mayweather wouldn’t look even slightly dumb about talking up how he’s the big powerful boss if he took control of every aspect of his business the way he’d like us to believe he does.

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The press tour for Mayweather-Marcos Maidana II has had some hitches — I had to bail on the Washington, D.C. leg because it started more than four hours late, some of which was the fault of weather and some of which was both Mayweather and boxing press conferences running serially behind — but it has also been eventful and mostly entertaining, even some of the frustrating moments.

  • The glove debate has been a bit lame, because it’s something that should’ve been resolved by now. It at least gave Mayweather a chance to say some wild shit about how the gloves Maidana wanted to wear compared to infamous glove cheats Antonio Margarito and Luis Resto, and for him to pwn Maidana trainer Robert Garcia by taking the pink gloves he handed him as a stunt and autographing them for him. That was kinda funny.
  • It was also amusing for Garcia to have challenged Mayweather to a fight in the streets, and for Mayweather to have mentioned an undistinguished moment in Garcia’s own boxing career, and for Garcia to level the criticism that Mayweather fights like a bitch and that’s why he’s undefeated (wait, you’re a bitch if you win?).
  • We got a Maidana shove of Mayweather, then a shove back. Yay!
  •  Would that Mayweather could stop whining about all of Maidana’s fouling. Maidana is dirtier than Mayweather, no doubt, but Mayweather does his own share of fouling with those elbows and forearms, in particular. But by putting all the attention on it, whoever’s reffing will feel some psychological pressure to over-officiate.

There’s one more video related to the tour further down in Quick Jabs, and a little bit more other Mayweather business there, too.

AL HAYMON

Thomas Hauser is about half the best investigative guy in the business and half frustrating, as we’ve written here many times before. His latest piece on influential manager Al Haymon has a whole bunch of potential “whoa” and a great deal of “huh?” The biggest “whoa” item would be that Haymon is making moves to do Internet broadcasting and/or maybe team up with NBC with his stable, even if it means paying NBC and NBC Sports for the honor. This would be a massive move, and a massive scoop, if true. There are almost no sources cited, not even on background, so the reader has no basis for evaluating the accuracy of the information, which means they have to trust a guy who consults for HBO on a manager the company refuses to work with. Some other good parts: about how Richard Schaefer and Haymon had hoped to buy out De La Hoya for Golden Boy Promotions; a solid bit of legal analysis of the Main Events lawsuit; the possibilities about who will help run GBP with De La Hoya.

The bad: The segment about the New York Times backing down after being hit with a legal threat by GBP features no comment from any editors at that publication. It’s a pretty heavy allegation and if he sought comment and was refused, he should’ve said so. (I doubt he sought comment.) Then there’s the insinuation that Haymon got Lamon Brewster hurt, which, OK, maybe he could’ve severed ties, and he probably should’ve, but he hardly stands out in the regard of putting on shows with fighters who shouldn’t be fighting anymore. There’s also the weird Varys-style riddle about some hypothetical network executives being treated to tickets to a specific concert on a specific date. All that dark hinting when one doesn’t have the goods to just say who did what — ugh.

Since the Hauser article came out, Haymon has signed up bantamweight Tomoki Kameda, welterweight Roberto Garcia and middleweight Caleb Truax. It’s no understatement to say he’s signing an “army of fighters,” as Rick Reeno does in the link.

RANDOM BOXING BUSINESS

Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza says he won’t be talking about PPV buy rates anymore because they’re a distraction from the focus needing to be on good events. Naturally he makes this policy after the first Mayweather-Maidana fight didn’t crack 1 million, as opposed to how eager Showtime et al was to announce the monster Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez figures. Naturally he’ll allow an exception to make announcements for a smash hit. He has two things operating against him: One, reporters are going to try to get the figures one way or another anyway, so it’s not like his refusal to discuss them means they’re never going to be discussed. Boxing journalists don’t just cover the boxing in the ring but the business outside, and, by the way, those two things are inextricably tied together. Two, Mayweather makes a very big deal about being the PPV king, about all the money he makes. Naturally, that’s going to inspire people to wonder how well his fights did specifically…

Featherweight Abner Mares felt pretty good about his first performance under new trainer Virgil Hunter, which he shouldn’t, but he said he has more to work on with him, which he does. It’s probably a bad fit, but if they’re going to continue working together they definitely have things to work on…

Amir Khan had a legal kerfuffle over an alleged physical confrontation with a couple teenagers returning from a mosque, but charges weren’t filed and the allegations were withdrawn, and that means we probably won’t learn much more about what happened than we got at the beginning…

The WBC’s suspension of Adrien Broner is over. So glad we can finally move past that and that Broner can get ranked again by an organization that ranks people willy-nilly. (Broner’s the #3 junior welterweight in the world according to them. Do you buy that? You shouldn’t.)

VIDEOS

Here are some videos for you.

A Knockout of the Year candidate from Tomoki Kameda:

Amir Khan punching out some candles:

Mayweather not knowing who Ronda Rousey is, for which he has since apologized:

And some stuff from the ESPYs. Drake playing Manny Pacquiao as singer, not that funny, but not a bad impression:

Drake introducing Mayweather, which is funnier, and then of Maria Sharapova sonning him, which is hilarious:

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a staff writer for CQ Roll Call.

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