By Mitch Abramson
It’s not unusual for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to face tougher opposition in the weeks leading up to a fight than in the actual bout itself.
And the run-up to Mayweather’s rematch with Marcos Maidana on Saturday hasn’t been any different.
From having his reading ability challenged to being sued by a former fiancée who alleged among other things, that Mayweather assaulted her and held her a captive prisoner in their home- to clumsily discussing the Ray Rice situation, Mayweather has had to navigate a minefield of topics, not always well.
Along the way, he has received a boatload of criticism for the way he's handled himself- criticism that will largely be absent on Saturday for the way he performs in the ring.
But, since there’s still time before the fight, there’s still room for more controversy and more problems for the top fighter in the game.
And on Thursday, the attorney for Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s ex-fiancee, Gloria Allred called on fans to boycott Mayweather’s world title fight with Maidana on Showtime pay-per-view in Las Vegas, saying that those who buy the fight are only supporting someone with a history of domestic abuse charges who also made comments in support of Ray Rice.
Allred, who is representing former Mayweather gal pal Shantel Jackson in the suit, is also asking the Nevada State Athletic Commission to cancel the match as restitution for failing to take action against Mayweather after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of domestic violence in 2011.
Instead of holding Mayweather accountable for his actions and disciplining him in some way, the Nevada commission granted Mayweather a license to eventually face Miguel Cotto in 2012.
“I think that people should boycott the fight on Saturday in protest of Mayweather's history and current stance on domestic violence, as well as his support of Ray Rice,” Allred wrote in an email. “The public should not order and pay for the pay per view broadcast of the Mayweather fight, because that would only serve to support and reward Mayweather.”
Allred isn’t the only one to call on fans to boycott the bout. Sarah Spain, a columnist for ESPNW.com, also urged fans to skip the bout as a way to make a statement against domestic violence, she wrote in a story on Thursday.
And a longtime boxing insider, who wished to remain anonymous because of the potential backlash their comments could provoke, said they would not watch the fight on Saturday, that they simply “couldn’t take it anymore” after the civil suit from his ex-fiancee surfaced and Mayweather made his tone-deaf comments on Ray Rice.
But that individual was the lone person to say something negative to this reporter toward Mayweather because of his history of domestic violence and that person wouldn’t even give their name, such is the power and influence of the Mayweather brand.
A number of others who make their living in boxing declined comment and chose to avoid the topic entirely when contacted.
Mayweather, 37, walked into dangerous ground on Tuesday when he seemed to defend the former Ravens running back on Tuesday, telling a small group of reporters in Las Vegas he felt it was incorrect for the NFL to prolong Rice’s punishment from a two-game suspension to an indefinite one. Mayweather said the NFL shouldn’t’ have gone back on its word by changing the punishment.
Mayweather (46-0, 26 knockouts) also seemed to minimize the violence of the TMZ video that showed Rice leveling his then-fiancee in a casino elevator and then dragging her limp body, telling the group that it really wasn’t so bad, that there’s been nastier instances of domestic violence.
“I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households, also,” he said. “It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say.”
Mayweather, the highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes.com, later apologized for those remarks on Wednesday. He also seemed to suggest he had never seen the video of Rice- even though he clearly admitted on Tuesday he had watched it.
Allred also took to task the Nevada State Athletic Commission for sanctioning the bout with Maidana on Saturday at the MGM Grand, asking the regulatory body to stop the match.
She scolded the commission for never punishing Mayweather after he pleaded guilty to domestic violence and instead granted Mayweather a license to face Miguel Cotto in 2012 with a jail sentence looming.
“The Nevada Boxing Commission should step up to the plate and suspend the upcoming match, because they never took any action against him following his plea and sentencing for domestic violence,” Allred wrote in an email. “There is no excuse for abuse and no excuse for the Nevada Boxing Commission failing to impose any punishment or serious consequences on a boxer who inflicts violence against women.”
A judge allowed Mayweather to postpone his jail sentence at the time to face an opponent who eventually turned out to be Cotto after Mayweather’s representatives outlined the economic windfall his fights produce for Las Vegas.
The executive director of the Nevada commission, Robert Bennett, who was appointed in April, didn’t immediately return a message for comment.
Mayweather pleaded guilty to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges against his former girlfriend, Josie Harris in 2011.
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Mayweather, who faced 34 years in prison if found guilty on all counts, has maintained his innocence, saying he only took the plea deal to keep two of his children, who were in the room during the incident, from testifying.
Mayweather served just two months and was released for good behavior.
Neither Mayweather’s publicists nor a representative from the Showtime network immediately returned a message for comment.
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.