Over the last few years, Floyd Mayweather has asked a host of celebrities to accompany him to the ring before fights. From Justin Bieber to Lil Wayne to the Burger King mascot, many of Mayweather's ring entrances have actually been more entertaining than his fights. But for his 49th (and final?) fight against Andre Berto on Saturday night, Mayweather has apparently decided to go in a different direction.
Late last week, TMZ Sports reported that Mayweather had invited Jen Welter—who recently became the first female NFL coach in the history of the league—to the Berto fight. He is reportedly a big fans of hers, so he offered her ringside tickets to the bout. She confirmed the TMZ Sports report on Twitter on Friday and said that she was "looking forward" to the fight:
But Mayweather didn't stop there. According to TMZ Sports, he also invited Welter to escort him to the ring before the fight. And she has reportedly accepted the invitation and "considers the whole thing an honor."
The problem with all of this, of course, is that Mayweather has a very sketchy past when it comes to domestic violence. He has spent time in jail on domestic violence-related charges and been accused of domestic violence on multiple occasions (this Deadspin report will explain it all, if for whatever reason you're not familiar with it). So while inviting Welter over, say, Bieber or Wayne could be seen as a step in the right direction for Mayweather, there are plenty of people who have criticized Welter for accepting his invitation to the fight in the first place.
Welter spent part of her weekend addressing some of the criticism that she has received, and even interacted with former Complex Sports writer Justin Block on Twitter about her decision. In a series of tweets, she revealed that she's hoping her attendance at the Mayweather/Berto fight will raise awareness about the domestic violence issue rather than come across as a show of support for Mayweather:
I never prejudged my players, which gave me an opportunity to reach them. Maybe that's why Floyd extended his glove. https://t.co/JD9EegF1bd— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 4, 2015
"By condemning a man based on his past, you are condemning him to the same future." -Dr. J https://t.co/Mif1ww5Ug9— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 4, 2015
Others have also chimed in on Welter's decision to attend the fight. Some of them have been positive:
But the vast majority that we have seen have been very critical of Welter. Many people simply don't want to see her at the fight because of Mayweather's past:
Don't participate unless he agrees to publicly apologize for his abuse. Let's see if suddenly he stops reaching out then, @jwelter47.— Jessica Luther (@scATX) September 7, 2015
@jwelter47 think its a mistake. Hes doing it so people dont talk about what he has done in the past. Dont fall for it— Donny Owens (@jdonowen3) September 7, 2015
The good feelings we had about Dr. Jen Welter & her groundbreaking NFL job will be wiped away when she walks to the ring with Mayweather— Anastasia Gotsulias (@StaceGots) September 7, 2015
@jwelter47 Obviously your words about domestic violence are just that. Attending the Mayweather fight shows you care nothing about women.— ALM (@ALWM77) September 6, 2015
Why go from this great, historic story, to fronting for a serial, unapologetic woman beater?— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 7, 2015
Guessing (hoping) @jwelter47 hasn't read any of the police reports in Mayweather's cases. Especially the one his son wrote.— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) September 7, 2015
If you want to aid Mayweather in his DV issues, private counseling might be the best approach instead of an endorsement. @jwelter47— emily (@littlexemilyj) September 7, 2015
I cannot stomach @jwelter47's reasonings for accepting ringside tickets from Mayweather. I don't understand them.— Jessica Luther (@scATX) September 5, 2015
ESPN's Michelle Beadle was especially critical of Welter's decision:
Everyone relax. CLEARLY, @jwelter47 is infiltrating the mind of a serial woman beater up close for the good of the NFL moving forward.— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) September 7, 2015
However, it doesn't sound like any of this is going to stop Welter from attending the fight. She continues to defend her decision on Twitter today:
I have not yet met @FloydMayweather personally. I consider it a step in the right direction that he reached out to a strong educated woman.— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 7, 2015
Do you believe change occurs through outside criticism or through personal communication? https://t.co/xITtAeq8un— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 7, 2015
And why not? He invited a woman with a PhD in psychology ringside. https://t.co/H3qnTt8C3a— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 7, 2015
My concern is DV in the future. I'm not sure if I can help him, but I certainly know, rejection would not help. https://t.co/6DuvgrXt60— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) September 7, 2015
It's unclear how much interaction Welter will have with Mayweather or what kind of a difference she'll be able to make this weekend. But if nothing else, Welter is very vocal on social media, and it seems as though she will be good about documenting her experience. So she would be worth a follow here.
Where do you stand on her decision to attend the Mayweather/Berto fight?
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