By MO BHANA
Floyd Mayweather has accused UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor of racism during the final leg of a promotional tour that descended into a war of words.
“Racism still exists. It’s all about treating people like you want to be treated. To get respect you must give respect,” said Mayweather.
“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.”
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, appearing to refer to black people as “dancing monkeys” when discussing the film Rocky III on a chat show.
Irishman 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. 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.”
Cheered on by supporters, McGregor goaded the 40-year-old Mayweather with taunts about his age, appearance and rumoured tax bill.
He said 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.”