The bruiser and the battler

by Louisa Thomas, GRANTLAND

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has bobbed, weaved, and danced through domestic violence accusations for much of his career. On the verge of the biggest fight in recent history, can we separate the athlete from the abuser?

Look at him. Watch him while he measures his opponents, taking their length and width and height. Once he has made his calculations, he gets to work. It’s said that the physics of boxing are simple: All other things being equal, the bigger body usually wins. But with Floyd Mayweather Jr, equality is hard to come by. He’s not a mauler, not a bruiser; he is quicker and smarter. More complex physical laws come into play: the dynamic mechanics of motion, the thermodynamics of the mind.

He is a boxer, not a fighter. Fighting implies a struggle, overwhelming aggression — some desire, some wild need, to transfer a hurt from within onto something in the world. Boxing is different. It carries within it the first definition of the word. It suggests geometry — lines and angles — and containment.


The first documented claim of domestic violence occurred in 2001. After Mayweather and Melissa Brim, the mother of his daughter Ayanna, got into an argument over child support, according to court documents, Mayweather swung open a car door that slammed her in the head, then he punched her three times in the face, leaving “fresh bruises.”

Read Louisa Thomas’s feature at GRANTLAND