LONDON - Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor face off at the end of a week of promotional events that has become an ugly war of words. Mayweather attacked McGregor with a homophobic slur and accused the UFC fighter of racism in the final leg of a promotional tour that has descended into an ugly war of words.
The UFC lightweight champion was again forced to defend himself against allegations of racism as Mayweather rounded on him at a heated press call in front of 10,000 fans at Wembley Arena.
“Racism still exists. It’s all about treating people like you want to be treated. To get respect you must give respect,” said Mayweather, who then called McGregor a “faggot” on stage.
“He totally disrespected black women. He called black people monkeys. Then he spoke disrespectfully to my mother and my daughter. There are certain levels you don’t stoop to and certain levels you just don’t go to. I love everybody from all walks of life,” he added.
Claims of racism against McGregor were first levelled during the opening two legs of the four-date journey through North America and Europe to generate publicity for their August 26 clash. McGregor told Mayweather “dance for me, boy” – a phrase with racial overtones.
In New York, the UFC lightweight champion had only inflamed the issue, saying he was “half-black from the belly button down” before appearing to refer to black people as “dancing monkeys” when discussing the film Rocky III on a chat show.
McGregor, who has predicted he will win inside four rounds despite never having previously boxed as a professional, vehemently denied being a racist.
“You can be fooled by [Mayweather] if you want to be fooled by him. You know the man’s character and his history. He’s trying to sway people in his favour and it’s a cheap move,” McGregor said.
“I was trying to address something in my own little way but whatever, if he feels it’s disrespectful then he’s an idiot and fuck him as well. It’s a dirty play. I think [the accusation] is ridiculous. I don’t understand it. I know who I am as a person and I think that most realistic people will look at me and know who I am,” he told.
Cheered on by supporters whose spirits were not dampened by a near-two-hour delay, McGregor goaded the 40-year-old Mayweather with taunts about his age, appearance and rumoured tax bill.
He remarked that four years ago he had fought in front of only 400 people at a small venue in London, adding “this is my first time in a boxing ring and in six weeks I’ll rule boxing”.
Mayweather was booed as soon as he took the microphone and endured a hostile reception from the pro-McGregor crowd throughout his performance.
“The tour became a verbal battle that people were scoring and I didn’t anticipate it being so back and forth,” McGregor said.
“If we are going to score it then let’s do that – I smoked him on all four rounds.”
While the money generated by the clash in Las Vegas is expected to eclipse the previous record held by Mayweather’s victory over Manny Pacquiao, its credibility has been questioned.
McGregor, who turned 29 on Friday, is a boxing novice and is facing a man regarded as the finest boxer of his generation.