With less than three weeks to go before Floyd Mayweather takes on his longtime rival Manny Pacquiao in what’s slated to be the highest grossing fight in history, the 38-year-old undefeated fighter is going on the offensive about his history with domestic abuse.
In a sit-down interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo News this week, Mayweather denied charges brought by his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris, the mother of three of his children. In 2010, Harris accused Mayweather of beating her in front of their children, a charge Mayweather pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to 90 days in jail (he served two months). Now, Mayweather maintains that he isn’t guilty of abusing her, but “restraining” her.
“Did I kick, stomp and beat someone? No, that didn’t happen,” Mayweather told Couric. “I look in your face and say, ‘No, that didn’t happen.’ Did I restrain a woman that was on drugs? Yes, I did. So if they say that’s domestic violence, then, you know what? I’m guilty. I’m guilty of restraining someone.’ ”
Mayweather blamed his occupation, race and wealth for skewing people’s perceptions of him when it comes to allegations of domestic abuse, the first of which was leveled in 2002 by ex-girlfriend Melissa Brim, the mother of Mayweather’s daughter, Ayanna.
“I’m black. I’m rich. And I’m outspoken. Those are three strikes right there,” he said, “So, you know, when someone says, ‘I got pushed or hit,’ I’m a fighter, so I may not really hit a person. But guess what? I got to fight the case because I’m already guilty.”
He continued: “They don’t know if I really did it or not. But since I’m a fighter, they’re gonna say, ‘You know what? He did it.’ ”
Mayweather has been accused by five women of seven physical assaults, not counting a civil suit brought in September 2014 by ex-fiancee Shantel Jackson, who claimed routine physical and emotional abuse ended their engagement. The suit came just five months after Mayweather posted a sonogram he claimed was Jackson’s on Instagram with the caption, “The real reason me and Shantel Christine Jackson @missjackson broke up was because she got an abortion, and I’m totally against killing babies. She killed our twin babies. #ShantelJackson #FloydMayweather #TheMoneyTeam #TMT.”
Ironically, Mayweather once used his domestic violence charges leveled on his opponent as a way to get inside his head. Per Deadspin:
In 2001, Mayweather fought what was then the biggest fight of his career, against the favored Diego “Chico” Corrales. Corrales, a deeply troubled but usually benevolent soul, was facing an impending jail sentence for assaulting his wife. Mayweather, always eager to get under his opponents’ skin, pounced on it. He dedicated his performance to “all the battered women in the world” and even entered the ring to music bashing violence against women. It worked. In retrospect, it’s obvious that Corrales would have lost to Mayweather under any circumstances, but he was atypically distracted and off his game that night, resulting in what many still consider to be the most impressive win of Mayweather’s career.
Double ironically, Pacquiao may be using that strategy against Mayweather going into their fight on May 2 in Las Vegas. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach recently told USA Today Mayweather’s past is fueling Pacquiao’s fury.
“Manny is really against domestic violence,” Roach said. “It is a big issue maybe in the Philippines for him and being a congressman he can control some of that stuff. That is a big plus for me that Manny does not like the guy, I think the killer instinct is going to come back a lot faster.”
Mayweather says he’s not letting his opponent get to him, however.
“It’s not bragging, I know I’m great. I got here somehow, someway, doing the right things, pushing myself, believing,” he told Couric. “I’m not worried about nothing at all… I’m a winner. I know how to win. Under any circumstances, I know how to win.”
Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.