This week boxing champ Floyd Mayweather was ordered by a judge to pay over $113,000 for refusing to answer questions in boxer Manny Pacquiao’s defamation lawsuit against him. Even if you don’t follow boxing you’ve probably heard this story since it involves the last two popular boxers on the planet: what would be the fight of the century is not happening because Mayweather has made random needle-drawn blood tests a condition for fighting, though such tests are not standard policy in professional boxing. Pacquiao has refused these terms, but has consented to unlimited urine tests.
The reason for Mayweather’s insistence on a specific form of drug testing is that he believes Pacquiao uses performance-enhancing drugs. This is why Pacquiao sued him for defamation—though Mayweather has repeated this accusation repeatedly in public, Pacquiao has never tested positive for any kind of drugs. And so Pacquiao, in Mayweather’s mind, is guilty until proven innocent, and all Pacquiao can do in the meantime is at least clear his name through the lawsuit.
It’s in this way that somehow the vote game reminds me of the boxing game, and not just because of all the theater and drama. States like Pennsylvania have made displaying a state-issued photo voter ID card a condition for voting. Reason being: they—and by “they” I mean people who tend to be Republicans—believe that rampant voter fraud is afoot. In their minds, voters are guilty of fraud until showing ID proves them innocent. Civil rights organizations such as The Advancement Project, ACLU and the NAACP have had to sue these voter ID states for violating the fundamental rights of eligible voters.
Next week in Pennsylvania, a courtroom drama ensues over its photo voter ID law, which was kept in tact by the Commonwealth Court in August, and then appealed to the state’s supreme court, only to be kicked back down to the lower court with instructions to issue an injunction against it if it is as questionably lawful as the Supreme Court found it.
But in both the boxing and the voting cases the strategy is the same: keep the opponent away. Mayweather is adamant about the needle drug tests only because he knows it will keep Pacquiao out the boxing ring with him—the drug allegations are a ruse. Republicans appear to only push for voter ID laws because it will keep voters who tend to be Democrats away from the boxing ring, with voter fraud as their ruse.
Boxing writer Tim Keown of ESPN wrote of the Mayweather Pacquiao saga:
This is a tactic worthy of the best disinformation campaigns. You issue a damning proclamation and then stand back and let everyone else deny it. This is what Mayweather’s people seem to be doing by asking Pacquiao to submit to random blood testing to prove that he’s not using performance-enhancing drugs, whether it be steroids or HGH. And since Pacquiao refuses to consent to anything beyond unlimited urine tests, Mayweather’s people can sit back and say, “See? See what we’re talking about?”