In the middle of the biggest boxing match of the year stands Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, two athletes that have made headlines over the years for their antics, triumphant wins and dynamic personalities. With the two now in battle with each other, factors outside of their skills have taken center stage.
With just a few weeks away from the big fight, Mayweather spoke to Stephen A. Smith Tuesday evening (Aug. 8) about McGregor’s racial comments and how they’ve shifted his inspirations in the match. “This is for a cause,” he said. “This is for the American people. This is for all the blacks around the world.”
The news may have flown under the radar due to their machismo press conferences but during their press stop in Toronto, McGregor chatted with Jimmy Kimmel Live! and made a joke referencing one of the Rocky films, calling the character’s black co-stars “dancing monkeys in the gym.” The video was removed from the show’s YouTube channel, but the moment stuck with Mayweather.
“I just didn’t like when he called us monkeys,” Mayweather said. “I think that was totally disrespect. He called us monkeys. I didn’t like it. It didn’t push a button to make me jump out of my character and go crazy, but I didn’t like it.”
“I just thought about all our different leaders,” Mayweather continued. “Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. They went on the front line for me and my family and all my loved ones. Like I said before, this stuff still goes on. But I’m strong, I’m smart, patient. And come Aug. 26, I’ll be the same person — smart, strong, patient. And the same way he called us monkeys, we’re gonna see if he say that Aug. 26.”
MMA Fighting adds McGregor attempted to diffused the racial talk with off putting jokes at the Brooklyn press conference, claiming that black women loved him and that he was half black “from the waist down.” “It didn’t really hit right,” McGregor said during their final press conference in London. “I’m just gonna stay where it is and leave it out. I know who I am as a person. I think most realistic people can look and know.”
See the rest of Mayweather’s interview above.