Do we treat Floyd fairly? (Part 1)

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
10:56
AM ET
On last Saturday's "24/7," Floyd Mayweather did what he is so skilled at doing -- he created a buzzfest with his remarks about PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In case you missed it, or my coverage of it, here's what Mayweather said, after being asked about sparring:

"In this training camp, we're boxing nonstop, and when we get in the ring, it's called the doghouse," Mayweather said. "So if you look at the ring, it's always surrounded by a bunch of people, 'cause that's the doghouse. When you go to a dog fight and you watch pitbulls fight ... I don't want to get in trouble by -- what's the people called, PETA? I don't want to get in trouble with the PETA people, but ... the animal rights people, but s---, I don't give a f---, 'cause I wear mink coats. I'm gonna wear chinchilla and I'm gonna rock mink coats. The same people want to tell you, 'You can't wear animal fur and s---, them's the same people that's eating chickens, eating cows, eating steak. So f--- what they're talking about."

Since then, and actually for a few years now, I've been asking myself if we treat Mayweather fairly. "We" being the fight writer fraternity. I can say that I do believe we don't treat him the same as, say, Manny Pacquiao, the icon from the Philippines.

But that imbalance may be kosher. It may be that the press coverage Mayweather receives is earned, deserved. But I think it bears asking ourselves: if Mayweather did some of the things that Pacquiao has done lately, or been accused of doing, how would the boxing press handle it?

I asked Jim Lampley recently if he thought Mayweather and Pacquiao get the same treatment from the media. He noted that Mayweather doesn't get the love from the U.S. media as Pacquiao does from the Filipino press corps. But, Pacquiao also has to contend with a press that is more likely to run with salacious stuff, rumor mill material, uncorroborated stuff, Lampley noted.

I do suspect that if indeed there is a different set of standards applied to Pacquiao and Mayweather, part of that stems from the personalities of the two men. Mayweather seeks to create buzz. He seeks to provoke. He admits that he has this "Money" persona which is designed to stir up the masses, and help keep him relevant. Pacquiao doesn't seek to keep "relevant." His persona -- and I have to think it is actually his personality, that he doesn't adopt characteristics overtly to suit the situation -- is low-key, and humble.

Mayweather is many things, but low-key and humble aren't at the top of the description list. His strong personality engenders a "love him or hate him" response in nearly all fight watchers, press included. You either dig that persona and embrace it, or at the very least you shrug it off, saying that's Floyd being Floyd. Or, alternately, it rankles you. You don't care for the bragging -- about the bling, about the talent. You don't care for the forays into race, such as when he got into hot water for using stereotypes to demean Pacquiao, or the Jeremy Lin/Twitter bonanza, or the PETA jackpot.
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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