Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps on the scale during Friday's weigh-in… (Al Bello / Getty Images )
The rude and crude world of professional boxing reached a new low recently.
Or was it a new high?
It is boxing. Nothing quite defines it. Certainly not good taste.
Right there in your living room, had you been watching the "24/7" infomercial that HBO camouflages as a documentary in promoting pay-per-view sales, occurred one of the more startling scenes of public family dysfunction you will ever witness.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was throwing Floyd Mayweather Sr. out of his gym. The longer it went — and it was a good two or three minutes — the more you got the impression that he was also throwing him out of his life. It has happened before. It may happen again. But it was still startling.
Floyd Jr. will fight Victor Ortiz on Saturday night in Las Vegas in one of the year's handful of big-money fights. In the context of real things, the world will be unmoved. OK, an Ortiz victory might bring a little jiggle or two on the axis, but odds are about 6-1 against that happening.
Almost more fascinating than the fight is the extent to which Mayweather has gone to promote his image as a tough, untouchable, unapproachable, thumb-your-nose-at-the-law punk. His boxing record is 41-0, and he seems to use that to justify all other behaviors.
But his tirade against his father, a former boxer who has been in jail and missing in action often enough to justify less than cuddly feelings from his son, was beyond stunning.
Television cameras were in his face. This is what "24/7" promotes, around-the-clock access. And suddenly, father and son were trying to outdo each other in nasty, snarling verbal attacks that featured the same obscenity over and over again. To their credit, each found ways to use the term as both an adjective and a noun.
You found yourself asking why anybody would do this, why a private moment could be allowed to be so public. You know that boxing leads the sports world in pre-event baloney. You remember Mike Tyson accidentally breaking an official's leg during a fake fight at the head table during a news conference.
But are there now no boundaries, no hint of decorum? Is nothing private, personal? Is this where we are headed with Facebook and cellphone cameras and fan bloggers and a million TV outlets vying to get our attention in numbers sufficient to sell advertising?
Does all this great technology enable idiots, or are we idiots because we allow it to do so?
Go ahead and laugh. Yes, this is boxing, where Tyson bit portions of Evander Holyfield's ear off in the ring during a fight.
But you don't have to be extremely old, nor extremely prudish, to recall with some nostalgia the days when the words "damn" or "hell" uttered on TV were surprising. Yes, this is cable, and yes, it is deemed to be different. But still …
Richard Schaefer is the chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, which is running this fight. His company paid the $1-million-plus production costs for "24/7." He says he was a little taken aback on first viewing of the Mayweather family tirade but adds that he wouldn't have turned the cameras off, nor edited out the scene.
"From a non-Mayweather point of view, it was hard to understand," Schaefer says. "But this is promoted as reality television, which means they will show the good, the bad and the ugly.
"It is designed to show the differences, the mind-sets of each fighter, all having implications for the fight. That's why we saw one guy taking a break and going fishing, and the other going out to buy a Rolls-Royce."
Guess which one was buying the Rolls-Royce?
Mayweather is an interesting person. There is more there than the tough-guy punk-isms, but it is hard to get at. He has often rescued down-on-their-luck friends. Case in point: former Olympian Nate Jones, once surviving by selling cheap suits on street corners in Chicago and now a member of Mayweather's training camp. Mayweather talks and acts like a tattooed rapper and then plays country music in his car.
Still, with his recent felony assault charges, he seems intent on following in the footsteps of the same man he berated and verbally abused in front of millions of TV viewers. Or should we call people who watch and embrace this sort of public dignity-stripping gawkers?
Mayweather is 34 years old. He has made millions, spent millions and may do more of each for years to come.
But one can only wonder, when his boxing career is over and the fickle sports world turns its adoration to the newer, fresher, younger model, what that will do to Floyd Mayweather Jr. One would hope that, at that stage, when there are no cameras turned on him, he will have grown up enough to understand what a good thing that can be.