When UFC champion Conor McGregor and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather fight this month in Las Vegas, many experts predict it will shatter pay-per-view records. However, the fight might be more personal than many fans thought thanks to comments by one of the fighters. Conor McGregor called Floyd Mayweather “monkey” in one of their confrontations leading up to the fight.
Floyd Mayweather interview
This shocking revelation came in a Floyd Mayweather interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN. Smith explained that he didn’t hear the “monkey” comment by Conor McGregor, but he did hear Conor call Floyd a “boy.” The difference is that McGregor calls everyone he fights “boy,” regardless of race or skin color. However, “monkey” has long been used as a derogatory statement towards black individuals.
In the interview, Floyd Mayweather was very calm when talking about this racial insult. He simply said that he didn’t like it. Mayweather said that it didn’t make him “go crazy,” but he felt it disrespected those who came before like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who went on the front line for him and his family.
Mayweather then said that this sort of racism still goes on. MMAFighting reported that Floyd then said that he is going for a knockout in this fight and will not be fighting on the defensive.
Conor McGregor’s response to the ‘monkey’ statement
While it seemed very shocking for Conor McGregor to call Floyd Mayweather “monkey,” it wasn’t the first time he used the statement, and when asked about it, MMAFighting also reported that McGregor didn’t step back from the statement.
There was a YouTube video that reportedly showed a backstage interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live with Conor McGregor, where the UFC champion was asked about Rocky 3. McGregor responded by asking if that was the movie with “dancing monkeys in the gym.” In Rocky 3, the Sylvester Stallone character went to train at an all-black gym.
That video clip was removed from the Jimmy Kimmel YouTube page.
When asked about the Floyd Mayweather “monkey” comments, Conor said that he was just trying to make light of the situation. McGregor seems to think it was part of his schtick, which included him asking Floyd to dance for him. Conor said that he knows who he is as a person, and “realistic people” will know as well.
Racism in boxing
In a follow-up response to the Floyd Mayweather “monkey” controversy, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith once again said that he never heard the comments from Conor McGregor, but if it is true, he finds it highly offensive and a slap to all black people.
Smith then brought up the classic 1982 fight between Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney, a boxing match that really separated the racial lines with promoter Don King and manager Dennis Rappaport using the “black vs. white” storyline to sell the fight. The media even referred to Cooney as the “Great White Hope.”
While both Smith and his First Take co-host, Max Kellerman, said that they believe that neither Holmes nor Cooney wanted the race card to be played, it made the fight a huge success despite many people making death threats to both boxers leading up to the fight.
Both George Cooney and Larry Holmes are close friends and have worked together for special causes ever since.
Stephen A. Smith said that the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight might cause a huge racial divide similar to that of Cooney vs. Holmes.
[Featured Image by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]