Why Do We Love to Hate Floyd Mayweather?

Why exactly do people hate Floyd Mayweather so much? I don’t think it’s just because he’s a braggart, a jerk, and an abuser. The main problem with Floyd Mayweather is that he’s a braggart, a jerk, and an abuser who refuses to lose:

It was clear throughout the fight that the crowd was against him. The only time cheers rang through the celebrity-packed Las Vegas casino auditorium was when Pacquiao landed blows.

After winning, Mayweather jumped up onto the ropes and flexed his biceps for the crowd — which responded with vigorous boos.

He was later caught on a cellphone camera yelling at hecklers: “I told you so! I told you so!”

The whole crowd at the big fight wanted to see Mayweather get beat. They wanted him to be knocked out, preferably. But they wanted him to lose, at least. Millions of people tuned in, and it seemed like the only reason anyone was watching was to see Mayweather’s ego get pricked. But that didn’t happen.

Ironically, the fact that millions of viewers tuned in hoping to see Mayweather get put down a few pegs is the only reason the fight was such a financial boon to Mayweather, who made off with the largest purse in boxing history. If we really wanted to see Mayweather lose in any meaningful way, the best option would be to stop wanting to see Mayweather at all. But that’s not the American way. We don’t want Mayweather’s loss to be merely significant. We want it to be symbolic.

I have a hard time understanding America sometimes, actually. Mayweather is a good fighter. He has gone 48 and 0 for a reason. He’s abusive to women almost assuredly, but it’s actually easy to find many other sports stars with a similar domestic violence record who are protected from the law and public opinion. And for similar reasons: they make a lot of money for their “handlers.”

So why do people hate Floyd Mayweather so much? Because he, perhaps unwittingly, highlights our destructive obsession with sports, our love for violence, our covetous lust for other people’s power and money, and our attempts to spare ourselves from criticism.

We feed Mayweather and our other stars the same two-faced message: Be violent, yes. But only in the arena. Make money, yes. Lots of money. Especially for us. But don’t be so happy about it. Don’t flaunt it quite so much. Pretend like the rest of us that you really care about others. Win, yes. But be a good sport. Pretend like the rest of us that winning isn’t the most important thing.

But Mayweather refuses to play that game. He’s certainly an ugly person, but he’s no hypocrite. We look at him and see plainly the ugliest version of hubris, greed, and remorseless violence. We hate him, and we don’t realize we’ve just been looking in a mirror. Floyd Mayweather epitomizes contemporary America. And we hate him for it. We relish the thought of seeing Mayweather fail and fade from memory, so we can go back to believing good lies about ourselves, our vanities, and our obsessions. But like so many moral object lessons, Mayweather just refuses to go down.