Floyd Mayweather, Jr. still doesn’t seem to understand why people don’t like him very much, and claimed in a recent interview that peoples’ attitude towards him versus someone like Conor McGregor boils down to racism.
Mayweather kicked things off with a rant about the boxing media trying to pressure Andre Ward into a fight with the higher weight class Sergey Kovalev, saying race played a big part in the pound-for-pound rankings and which fighters were expected to step outside their weight classes to prove themselves. Then he brought it around to MMA. Via Fighthype:
After Ronda Rousey fought I think 9, 10, 11 fights, it didn’t even take that long, she got all types of endorsements, movies, and everything. Laila Ali did the same thing in better fashion. Ronda Rousey, she’s a good looking woman when she put it on. Laila Ali is a drop-dead gorgeous woman; I mean a naturally beautiful woman and can kick ass, but you never heard them [the media] saying when she had I think somewhere around 10, 11, 12 fights that she was the baddest woman to ever fight on the planet. And what’s so crazy, I don’t really know the McGregor guy; never seen him fight. … They say he talk a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I’m cocky and arrogant. So biased! Like I said before, all I’m saying is this, I ain’t racist at all, but I’m telling you racism still exists.
Looking at Laila Ali’s record, you can’t help but be impressed. She had 21 knockouts in 24 wins and managed to retire undefeated — an accomplishment that is now outside of Ronda Rousey’s reach. She got a lot of attention, but certainly not the level we’ve seen since Rouseymania ran wild in 2015. This could be thanks in large part to the explosion of social media since Laila was dominating the ring, plus the full support of the UFC and a society that is finally taking women in combat sports seriously. Unfortunately, sexism in boxing still exists, too.
As far as McGregor goes, he’s beloved by the Irish. Then there’s a ton of people out there like Chuck Liddell who are captivated by his fighting, but hate his swagger. Every week, there are dueling editorials on how Conor McGregor is the best or worst thing to happen to mixed martial arts. If he wasn’t backing his talk up with epic performances in the cage, he’d probably get more Mayweather-style hate. It’s hard to compare the two side-by-side, though, because, unlike Mayweather, McGregor hasn’t had a boring fight in his entire career.
That isn’t to say Mayweather’s comments are completely off base. We’re not far enough ahead as a society to say racism doesn’t play a role in how athletes are perceived or received when they reach the pinnacle of their sport. The bullsh*t Serena Williams puts up with should be enough to prove that. But it’s not the entire story, and if Mayweather wanted more McGregor-style accolades, he should have gone out and fought like McGregor.