This fight is different from the 49 other professional boxing matches Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had over the last 20-plus years. In some ways, it’s more personal.
UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor will transition from mixed martial arts to boxing on Aug. 26 to fight Mayweather, who has never lost in his respective sport. The buildup for the unique showdown has featured an abundance of verbal jabs, but one shot in particular irked Mayweather.
“I just didn’t like when he called us monkeys,” Mayweather said of McGregor in a sitdown interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that aired Tuesday night. “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.”
As background, McGregor came under fire during last month’s world tour for a comment he made in an interview with Guillermo Rodriguez of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Rodriguez asked McGregor who would win a fight between him and Sylvester Stallone’s character in “Rocky III,” to which The Notorious responded, “I’m trying to remember which one was ‘Rocky III.’ Was that the one in the celebrity gym? I can’t remember if that’s the one with the dancing monkeys or not.”
It’s unclear what exactly McGregor was talking about, but some on social media suggested he was referring to a scene from the movie in which several black boxers were training in a gym. McGregor since has brushed off the claim he’s racist — an accusation that also stems from him calling Mayweather “boy” on stage in Los Angeles during the first stop of the fighters’ world tour — but Mayweather clearly isn’t happy with his opponent’s taunts.
“I just thought about all our different leaders,” Mayweather told Smith. “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 says that Aug. 26.”
McGregor also called some of his past MMA opponents “boy” regardless of their color, which muddies the waters a bit. His comments leading up to this month’s fight with Mayweather remain controversial, though, and they’ll undoubtedly be in the back of Mayweather’s mind over the next couple of weeks even if they don’t have a direct impact on his fight preparation.
“No different,” Mayweather said of this being just another training camp. “But this is for a cause. This is for the American people. This is for all the blacks around the world.”
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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