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Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?

The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think.

by James Leroy Wilson
April 28, 2015

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Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will fight for boxing's world welterweight title on May 2 in Las Vegas. The long-overdue match will have the richest purse in boxing history. 
That's because he was convicted five times for violence outside the ring. While there were some fines and requirements for counseling and community service, jail sentencing seemed lenient:
  • 2002: domestic violence; six-month supsended sentence
  • 2004: battery against two women; one-year suspended sentence
  • 2005: battery against a bouncer; 90-day suspended sentence
  • 2011: battery against a former girlfriend; served just over two months of a 90-day sentence in the summer of 2012.
That's why the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which licenses boxers, is criticized for consistently permitting Mayweather to fight in that state.
But isn't it the courts that failed? Is it the Commission's fault that Mayweather served only two months out of potentially two years during this period? Wouldn't that have diminished his boxing skills, leading to losses and diminished income?
Better yet, might serving the first or second sentence been a deterrent to further violence?
Regardless, individual sports do not work like team sports and their governing leagues. Domestic violence tarnishes the image of the NFL, which is why it's punished at the league level. Ray Rice and Greg Hardy aren't responsible for their own brands only, but to the NFL's brand.
Boxing, in contrast, has no over-arching association or governing body that needs to protect its own image. Like an entertainer, Mayweather is responsible only to his own brand. And despite his riches, he might have earned just as much in endorsements. He hasn't because companies don't want the endorsement of a convicted woman-beater. 
I conclude, then, that the Commission shouldn't be responsible for upholding boxing's "image." That should be up to each boxer. If you don't cheat in the ring and aren't in prison, they should be allowed to fight. 
But there's a problem in my argument...
Outside the Lines says boxers could be suspended for "anything north of a traffic violation." As Deadspin notes, "The commission regularly suspends fighters for testing positive for marijuana."
So boxing's image does matter to the Nevada Commission?
That's a double standard worse than Roger Goodell's when he botched the Ray Rice matter but went down hard on pot users.
The reason should be obvious...
Even if you think marijuana use is immoral and sets a bad example, domestic violence is far worse
I'm not saying the Commission should have revoked Mayweather's license, for this fight or any previous one. But it was wrong to have revoked licenses for other convictions or failed drug tests.   
It shouldn't be the job of state commissions to punish the personal behavior of boxers. They should be entirely responsible for their own behavior, their own reputation, and their own marketing.

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