For the past several days, ESPN’s been sprinkling bits of an exclusive Floyd Mayweather interview into its SportsCenter broadcasts as the run to next week’s highly-anticipated bout against Manny Pacquiao heats up. But you won’t hear Stephen A. Smith ask “Money” about his long history of beating women; no, you’ll see Smith act as hype man for Mayweather, promoting his fancy car collection and his pool table.
Stephen A., of course, has a pretty miserable track record of confronting domestic violence. But you won’t hear any reasonable voices speak out against Mayweather’s history of beating women on the Worldwide Leader’s main editorial side; chief ESPN boxing correspondent Dan Rafael’s sole mention of Money’s brutal past shows up only because a Nevada commissioner brought it up at this week’s hearing. (Rafael previously had asked if the serial domestic abuser had “mellowed.”) To find any real recognition at ESPN that Floyd Mayweather beats women, you’ll have to head for the hard-to-find ESPNW ghetto, where Sarah Spain wrote up an excellent piece last year.
A Stephen A. Smith-Mayweather segment released today by ESPN features Smith purporting to represent Mayweather’s “critics.” But at no point are these critics accurately portrayed as highlighting the boxer’s connection to domestic abuse. No, Smith instead suggests people think Floyd is bad because “of how he spends his money”—which provides Mayweather the prime opportunity to grandstand and promote himself and his brand. It’s not just that ESPN is ignoring Mayweather’s violent past; the network is helping him whitewash it:
Former ESPNers, meanwhile, are more than prepared to recognize the charges and in some cases confront Mayweather with them. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a serial woman-batterer. Why is ESPN—which has no stake in the joint HBO-Showtime PPV production—carrying water for him?