The Curious Case of Mayweather Hate

Floyd Mayweather Jr. pushed his professional record to 48-0 with a convincing and masterful victory over the consensus #2 pound-for-pound contender Manny Pacquiao. Predictably, this victory has been met with the same rhetoric as always. Mayweather is boring; Mayweather ran; Mayweather didn’t fight (despite landing 67 more punches than Pacquiao), and every other standard, unoriginal, amateurish criticism of Mayweather there is. There is no question that Floyd Mayweather Jr. receives unconditional hate from the general public (to go along with the unapologetic adulation he gets from a distinct minority). The question is why exactly does Mayweather receive such extreme hate. Let’s explore the possible reasons.

The first reason people will use to justify their hate is Mayweather’s history with domestic violence. On the surface, this would be a logical reason to hate someone. However, when you dig a little deeper this claim starts to fall apart. Dallas Cowboys fans are more than happy to have Greg Hardy on their team, even with a suspension looming and a long absence last year stemming from domestic violence issues. All will be forgiven if he can help Dallas’ ineffective pass rush. Kurt Busch had a domestic violence incident and although not convicted he did enough to draw a suspension (as opposed to administrative leave), yet NASCAR fans have stood firmly in his corner. I don’t even want to get into how quickly the Hope Solo and Brittney Griner/Glory Johnson domestic violence cases were swept under the rug and had no impact on those athletes’ public perceptions. Moving outside of the sports realm, R&B singer Chris Brown and actor Terrence Howard have seen their careers continue to flourish despite well-documented histories with domestic abuse. What we see here is that most (not all but most) people are willing to forgive domestic violence from athletes and celebrities as long as they perform. Mayweather has continued to perform at a nearly flawless level, yet the hate continues to find him. It has to be for another reason based on the examples I just discussed.

Perhaps people hate Floyd Mayweather Jr. because he is successful. Well no, that doesn’t make either. Michael Jordan dominated the NBA in the 1990s, highlighted by his six championships. Yet for that winning he was as close to universally loved as any athlete of my lifetime. During the early to mid 2000s, people marveled every time Tiger Woods took the golf course and wanted to see him outdistance the field off of the tee and outperform the field throughout each tournament he participated in. NASCAR fans were excited to watch Jimmie Johnson establish his recent dynasty in the sport with five consecutive championships. Even in horse racing, spectators hope for a Triple Crown every year and those who monitor the sport will all be pulling for American Pharaoh to win the Preakness in a couple of weeks. Normally dominance in a given sport causes fans to gravitate towards sports figures in admiration and support. Yet this isn’t the case for Mayweather despite nearly two decades of indisputable dominance.

Is the hate for Floyd Mayweaher Jr. because he acts like a jerk sometimes? Hard to say that – Tom Brady and Bill Belichick often act like jerks and they are praised for winning. Is it because Mayweather is so rich? That doesn’t seem to bother people when it comes to guys like LeBron James or David Beckham. And we don’t even need to discuss how other beloved celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z are constantly flashing their considerable wealth. So what is it? Why in a country that prides itself on forgiveness and second chances, a country where drug addicts (Josh Hamilton), animal abusers (Michael Vick), cheaters (Andy Pettitte), DUI manslaughter offenders (Donte Stallworth), domestic abusers, and other “terrible people” can receive cheers from a crowd as long as they perform, does Mayweather receive so much hate? There can only be one reason – groupthink.

Simply put, people dislike or hate Floyd Mayweather Jr. because they are told to. Being call his fighting style boring because they heard someone else say the same and it sounds like a good reason to justify their irrational disdain for the man. Most people who refer to Mayweather’s fighting style as boring would be hard pressed to name ten boxers they’ve watched fight within the last three years. They’re not fans. They’re conformists. They allow their feelings to be dictated by whoever they believe the majority is. Any reason they provide you for why they don’t like Mayweather, I can guarantee you they admire someone who that reason for hating Mayweather would also apply to. Being rational would be asking too much of these people. I have racked my brain trying to figure out how to explain this to the Mayweather haters, and it took until now for me to realize that because of the groupthink phenomenon there is no way to explain it that they will accept. So for the handful of Mayweather supporters out there, I commend you for being willing to step outside the box and formulate and individual opinion of the boxer. Is the man perfect? Far from it. But being a flawed individual is no reason to be hated or disrespected. He should be given his due, and I for one am willing to give it to him just like we do for all the other flawed individuals out there we all love. The bottom line is this: Whether everyone likes it or not Mayweather is the best pound for pound boxer of this generation and if it wasn’t for groupthink that is all that would matter. And for the Mayweather supporters, just remember the haters aren’t ever going to be able to give you a reason for their hate without contradicting themselves somehow – and that’s due to them being irrational. You won’t ever change their minds, but you can at least have a better understanding of why neither you or Floyd will ever change their minds.