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Monday, April 23, 2012
Do we treat Floyd fairly? (Part 2)

By Michael Woods

When pondering if the boxing media treats Floyd Mayweather fairly, can we all agree it's not like Manny Pacquiao is St. Manny -- that he has been prone to behavior that proves he struggles with embracing the hard right over the easy wrong?

There were reports of him cheating, stepping out on his wife, in 2009 and again this February. The tabloid press in the Philippines is all over it, but it doesn't get much traction here. Is that because it's out of sight, out of mind? Because our press doesn't have solid access to confirm or deny the allegations? Or because our press is more likely to tread lightly with Pacquiao because he is a humble warrior, he is respectful of our media and doesn't accuse them of bias or the like?

Would the press have handled an admission of a fondness for cockfighting from Mayweather in the same manner as when Pacman, in the fall of 2011, admitted he liked to watch the birds battle? I can't say for sure, because this has too many apples-and-oranges elements to it. But at the very least, I think the question bears asking.

For sure, many Mayweather fans think Pacquiao gets a free ride from us. Many believe that it is the height of hypocrisy for the Bible-thumping Congressman, newly immersed in a hardcore commitment to the Word of the Lord, to be simultaneously shilling for the cognac Hennessy. Me, I don't possess any real interest or knowledge of where the Bible stands on booze, so it's not an issue that resonated with me. But again, the question at least bears asking. And maybe it has been asked and answered enough? I can't say.

It's fair to say that we covered Mayweather's regular dust-ups with Johnny Law, those beefs with security guards and his ex, quite thoroughly. Did we cover those flareups that much more intently because he isn't the humble warrior maybe some of us lionize that much more? If he had that beatific Pacquiao grin, and wasn't prone to the incendiary Ustream rants and such, would we have dug in as hard? The question bears asking.

About that flareup with his ex. The courts decided it was more than a flareup, as Mayweather was sentenced last December to serve three months or less for domestic violence. Mayweather periodically protested during his bad run of outside-the-ring beefs that he was a target, that people would pester him, in the hope of provoking him and hitting a lawsuit jackpot. His advisor Leonard Ellerbe, on last Saturday's "24/7," said that Mayweather took a plea to shield his family from further scrutiny and stress, and many reacted with skepticism to Ellerbe's explanation.

But I want to keep an open mind on the subject. No, not on hitting women; I'm not a dunce like Jose Sulaiman. Violence is never an answer, really, for anything. That should go without saying. But I operate with eyes wide open enough to know that justice isn't always blind. I know that black males are locked up at almost six times the rate of whites, that blacks make up 35 percent of the jail and prison population while comprising less than 10 percent of the U.S. population, that black males have about a one in three chance of being locked up in their lives.

In other words, just because a judge or jury sentenced someone for something, I do not blindly accept the verdict as just. I mean, about two percent of persons placed on death row were found innocent upon further appeal. I simply think it is wise for people like me -- white, born into upper middle class circumstances -- to regularly ponder the upbringing and circumstances of people who didn't grow up like us. Now I fear that I'm getting into apologist territory here, and that's not my desire. I just think sometimes all of us are quick to judge, and then be jury, and don't factor in all parts of the equation.