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A Boxing Match And A Derby: The Week In Sports


Time for sports.


SIMON: Tonight, two men will brazenly try to inflict concussive damage to each other's brains. But they won't be arrested, they'll earn millions for it. Sports. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us from Las Vegas, where he's covering the multi-million dollar prizefight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi Scott, it's always a pleasure.

SIMON: Tom, let me sweep aside a lot of clutter. Floyd Mayweather - a great fighter, but how does a man with multiple convictions for domestic battery, including a few in Las Vegas, get a license to fight in Nevada?

GOLDMAN: Well, that's a really good question. Multiple licenses, in fact, Scott. Through the years, when those convictions were happening, you know, he's never been denied a license by the Nevada Athletic Commission. He's also never been disciplined by the commission. Now, commissioners have said they defer to the legal system. Critics say the commission doesn't care enough. Plus there's no national boxing organization to supersede and take action. But, you know, Scott, others appear to give Mayweather a pass on this too. A handful of lawmakers on Capitol Hill sent a letter of concern to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last fall regarding the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal. There's been nothing from Congress in the lead-up to the fight, nor from the White House - President Obama also publicly commented on the NFL situation. Then you've got all the media that have descended on Las Vegas to cover this fight without covering this part of Mayweather's story. Sponsors of the fight haven't raised a ruckus either. And you know, I think it shows again what people fighting against domestic violence have said for years - it's a crime that's in the shadows. And even today, after Rice and the NFL, it's still there somewhat.

SIMON: Well, it's still a worldwide sporting event. We've got to cover it. You went to the weigh-in yesterday.

GOLDMAN: I did, and you know what? So did 11,500 other people. For the first time, boxing charged money for a weigh-in. You know, there's just that much demand to see these fighters, to get close, even if all the boxers are doing is standing on a scale in their underwear. The charge was only $10, although tickets were resold for hundreds more. The money went to charity, Scott, but none of it for fighting domestic violence. That would have been too ironic, probably.

SIMON: Kentucky Derby today, I'm happy to say. You got a favorite? I do.

GOLDMAN: You know, if you're talking favorite horses, American Pharaoh is the favorite and it's done nothing to discourage its top billing. He's been training really well at Churchill Downs. Another one to watch is Dortmund - undefeated and a horse many like because he's been tested in his six races. And both those horses are trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert. So looking good for him to win a fourth. Who's your favorite, Scott?

SIMON: Gary Stevens aboard Firing Line. And he may be the only writer in Derby history who is an AARP member.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter).

SIMON: He's in his 50s.

GOLDMAN: He's amazing. Hall of Fame jockey, retired a couple of times. But, you know, while it would be impressive for him to win, he wouldn't be the oldest. That would be Willie Shoemaker, who won as a 54-year-old. So Gary's got a couple years to go.

SIMON: Oh, all right well, two more derbies. Game seven - Clippers in San Antonio. The Spurs know how to win big games, but should they be worried about the Clips?

GOLDMAN: Well, you're always worried with a game seven on your opponent's home-court. But this wonderful series, which really should've been the conference finals, not a first round - it's been weird too 'cause both teams have won big games on opponents' home courts then lost big games in their own arenas. You know, if the Clippers win tonight, kudos to them. But it could mean the end of the fabulous Spurs nucleus - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and head coach Gregg Popovich - which would be a truly sad moment for basketball fans everywhere who love those guys and being the heart of San Antonio's beautiful team-oriented style of play.

SIMON: Yeah, but they go straight from there to the Hall of Fame. Like you do, my friend. NPR's Tom Goldman in Las Vegas, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.