opinion

At 5am, Josie woke to find one of the world's highest-paid athletes standing over her bed.

On September 9, 2010, Josie Harris arrived home at about 2.30am. She had been out for the night, bowling.

Her ex – and the father of her three children – was in the house waiting for her. They began to argue, she called the police, he left after the police arrived.

Two-and-a-half hours later, he was back. This time, he had a male friend in tow and the bubblings of rage threatening to break. Harris was sleeping on the couch. She woke to screams. He was yelling, holding her phone over her. He had been reading her messages, and he didn’t like what he saw.

She was dating someone. This, apparently, was a problem. Sure, the couple had split, and sure, he had a new live-in girlfriend, but how could she? He clenched his fist, striking her clean in the back of her head.

He did it again, and again, and again.

Police reports would later claim he pulled her off the couch with nothing more than the force of a fistful of her hair. He twisted her arm, screaming he would “kill” her. He would make her and her new boyfriend “disappear“.

As his rage spilled over and his violence escalated, two bug-eyed boys aged nine and ten watched on, their dad with knuckles of steel, their mum fending off the impact.

He looked at them. He would “beat their asses if they left the house or called the police.”

They ran anyway. They got help. She filed a police report.

Three years later, she would tell Yahoo’s Martin Rogers he was calculated, clever.

“Did he beat me to a pulp? No, but I had bruises on my body and contusions and [a] concussion because the hits were to the back of my head. I believe it was planned to do that … because the bruises don’t show …”

After all, he had done it all before. And practice, they say, makes perfect.

***

On Saturday night Nevada time, and Sunday afternoon Australian time, Floyd Mayweather will shape up against UFC champion Conor Mcgregor in a fight dubbed ‘The Biggest Fight In Combat Sports History’.

According to some estimates, Mayweather is expected – win or lose – to walk away from a night’s work with US$100 million in his back pocket.

It’s interesting, you might observe, that the fists of Mayweather – the world’s very best boxer – are the ones we celebrate with sprinklings of millions and marvel, when they’re the same fists which seem the inflict the most pain, and the hardest of punches, on the women around him.

***

On the night of September 9, 2010, upon seeing Mayweather waiting for her in her own home, history hints Josie Harris knew exactly what he was capable of.

At the pointy end of 2003, Deadspin reports Harris and Mayweather got into an argument outside a Las Vegas nightclub. According to statements Harris made to the police that night, Mayweather punched her, kicked her and dragged her out of the car by her hair. Deadspin also notes Harris told officers that night Mayweather had beaten her before. By the time it went to trial in 2005, Harris had changed her story and Mayweather was acquitted.

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Just four months earlier, outside another Las Vegas nightclub, two friends of Josie Harris - Herneatha McGill and Karra Blackburn - were allegedly struck by Mayweather. McGill was hit in the jaw, Blackburn in the head.

Of course, Harris, McGill and Blackburn weren't the only ones.

Two years earlier, in 2001, Mayweather got into an argument with Melissa Brim, the mother of his daughter, Ayanna. Brim claims he punched her and hit her with a car door.

Five months later, she alleges he hit her again. After what she called a "brutal and unprovoked attack", Brim called police and Mayweather plead guilty to the charges.

Brim later dropped the lawsuit.

Fast forward 13 years, and in 2014, Mayweather's ex-fiancee Shantel Jackson accused the boxer of attacking her on multiple occasions and threatening her with a gun.

For the all the allegations that saturate his history, Mayweather has served a total of two months in prison and two days under house arrest.

***

In the lead-up to what is one of his biggest ever fights this weekend, Mayweather's violent past, this time, has been largely ignored.

It's perhaps no surprise - we have seen it all before. In the lead up to a big fight, the headlines come in waves. They're predictable, tiresome, same-same. Don't celebrate this man, they say. Look at the allegations.

We grew tired. The impact was lost. The shock factor non-existent.

We got bored of it. So we stopped talking.

While Mayweather's name populates headlines today, and millions of people glue their eyes to the screen that showcases his fight, it's time for the narrative to be disrupted and dismantled and distracted once again. It's time for us to talk, not about Mayweather, but about the names that rarely get airtime at all.

Josie Harris. Herneatha McGill. Karra Blackburn. Melissa Brim. Shantel Jackson.

The women who claim to have seen the insides of those million dollar fists. The same fists we glorify. The same fists that appear to keep fighting, well outside the confines of the ring.

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