By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Much of the talk Thursday night at Barclays Center was about the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight breaking boxing’s record for pay-per-view buys.
That’s how much mainstream momentum Mayweather-McGregor has gained this week during a four-city, four-day press tour that’ll conclude Friday night at Wembley Arena in London. Mayweather, UFC president Dana White, Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe all spoke Thursday night about the realistic possibility of Mayweather-McGregor exceeding the 4.6 million buys Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao produced two years ago when they fight August 26 in Las Vegas.
One thing Mayweather wasn’t interested in buying was McGregor’s contention that he’s not a racist. Boxing’s biggest star told a room full of reporters following their press conference in Brooklyn that McGregor’s behavior during their press tour, particularly Thursday night, isn’t acceptable.
McGregor took time during the press conference to ridicule critics who’ve contended this week that he’s a racist. Countless media outlets admonished McGregor, who’s white, for telling Mayweather, who’s black, to “dance for me, boy” during the first two stops on the tour Tuesday in Los Angeles and Wednesday in Toronto.
The boorish Irishman’s antics Thursday night included asking Mayweather’s 17-year-old daughter, Iyanna, to sing for him on stage. Iyanna Mayweather was standing next to her father, helping him with a cell phone application, when McGregor spoke to her.
While addressing the crowd of 13,165 at Barclays Center, the UFC superstar also called thrusting his pelvis back and forth “a little present for my beautiful, black female fans.”
“I think that disrespecting my daughter, disrespecting the mother of my daughter [Melissa Brim], disrespecting black women, calling black people monkeys is totally disrespectful,” Mayweather said late Thursday night, without specifying when McGregor made a “monkey” remark. “I have a diverse team, a diverse staff. And when I was young, I may have said some things that I shouldn’t have said when I was young. But we live, we learn and you don’t say those things once you get to a certain age because it’s all about growth and maturity. But it’s total disrespect.
“Today he came out and did it again. You do not disrespect – I don’t care if it’s white women, black women, white men, black men, Latina or Latino, you don’t disrespect people. To get respect, you must give respect. We live and we learn, and like I said before, as we get older, we grow and we get wisdom and we get maturity. And I guess when he gets older, he’ll probably look back and say, ‘You know, I shouldn’t have said that.’ ”
Mayweather, meanwhile, spent part of his time with the microphone Thursday night calling McGregor a “bitch,” a “hoe,” and a “p*ssy.” The 40-year-old Mayweather, however, has directed all his trash talk toward McGregor and has gone out of his way to praise White during their first three press conferences.
Las Vegas’ Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) didn’t specifically call McGregor a racist during or after the press conference. Dublin’s McGregor (21-3, 18 KOs in MMA), who’ll try to upset the best boxer of this generation in his pro boxing debut next month at T-Mobile Arena (Showtime Pay-Per-View; $99.95 in HD), spent part of his time in the interview room elaborating on why he addressed the racial issue during their third press conference in as many days.
“That doesn’t really sit well with me,” McGregor said. “I’m a very multi-cultured individual and I don’t have any ill feelings towards anybody. I don’t even see color. You know what I mean? So I just wanted to say something and have a little bit of fun with it. And, of course, in Brooklyn, being in New York, being a Notorious B.I.G. fan, you know what I mean? So I just wanted to play with it and address it in my own little way. It’s stupid and it’s ridiculous. That’s basically what I was getting at. That was basically it.”
While on stage, McGregor, who wore what he called a “polar bear” coat without a shirt, took the media to task for labeling him a racist.
“Let’s address the race,” McGregor told the crowd. “A lot of the media seem to be saying I’m against black people. That’s absolutely f***ing ridiculous. Do they not know I’m half-black? Yeah! I’m half-black from the belly button, down. And just to show that that’s squashed, here’s a little present for my beautiful, black female fans [starts thrusting his pelvis back and forth].”
Mayweather hasn’t overreacted to anything McGregor, 29, has said or done on stage in Los Angeles, Toronto or Brooklyn. But in addition to criticizing McGregor’s behavior after their press conference Thursday night, Mayweather also alluded to what he believes are racist tendencies among fans and media who Mayweather thinks have portrayed the flamboyant McGregor different than they’ve depicted him for behaving similarly.
“McGregor today, I’m not knocking him,” Mayweather said. “Remember this, when I tell you guys – racism still exists. When I, Mayweather, was flashy, I’ve been flashy for years. … Flashy, mink coats and y’all know I’ve been driving Ferraris and Bentleys and Rolls Royces for over 20 years. All this flashy stuff I was doing. ‘Oh, he’s arrogant. Oh, he’s cocky. He’s this. He’s that. He’s unappreciative.’ But then you take the same guy [McGregor] that’s in contact sports, steal my whole blueprint. Then he go do it and they praise him for it. But these are the things we act like we don’t see.
“But life goes on and I will always stand my ground and believe in what I believe in. I believe in treating everybody fair. I believe in if you violate, we’ll demonstrate. I truly believe in to get respect, you have to give respect. He totally disrespected my family, he totally disrespected my daughter. She’s my family, but that’s my baby. He disrespected her. Am I gonna trip. No? I still have a job to do and I still have to remain humble and be a professional, because humble is knowing where your blessings come from. When he comes and smack my hat or bump my shoulder, I’m not fittin’ to … what I’m gonna do? Hit you back and get fined? Nobody is dipping into my money, but me first. [Ellerbe] is gonna get some millions, too, but let me dip in it first.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.