After his 10th-round, TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday night, Conor McGregor paid tribute to the boxer with a turn of phrase that, given some of his previous comments, was attention-getting.
“I turned him into a Mexican tonight; he fought like a Mexican,” McGregor said in a ringside interview with Mayweather looking on.
It was a curious remark and quickly drew critical attention on social media because the Irish UFC star has denied that anything he has said is racist, saying, “I don’t even see color.” However, in the hypefest leading up to Saturday’s bout, McGregor said “dance for me, boy” to Mayweather and made a remark in a “Jimmy Kimmel Live interview” about “Rocky III” that drew criticism. “Rocky III? I’m trying to remember which one was Rocky III,” McGregor said. “Was that the one in the celebrity gym? I can’t remember if that’s the one with the dancing monkeys or not.”
In an incident during a news conference, when McGregor got in the face of Mayweather’s daughter, saying, “Sing it for me, beautiful Yaya,” Mayweather spoke up. “Disrespecting my daughter, disrespecting the mother of my daughter, disrespecting black women, calling black people monkeys — it’s totally disrespectful,” said Mayweather, whose own past contains domestic violence incidents. “I have a diverse team, a diverse staff. When I was young, I may have said some things that I shouldn’t have said when I was young. But we live, we learn and you don’t say those things when you get to a certain age. It’s all about growth and maturity.”
Last week, McGregor seemed to regret some of the things he had said. “At the end of the day we are only human, we all have slips of the tongue, we all misread thing and that’s it,” he said (via the Independent). “Overall I think it came full circle. We are two athletes who’ve dedicated our entire lives to this.”
As for his comment Saturday, he had a point about Mayweather’s style, if you believe he was speaking of how boxers, some of whom have come from Mexico, employ an aggressive approach in the ring. Mayweather, known as a defensive fighter, was unusually aggressive in the latter stages of the fight, wearing down McGregor.
On Instagram, Mayweather has even pointed out that, at 40, he is a different athlete, one who has added yoga to his workouts.
Sports Illustrated’s Dan Gartland draws a line between stereotyping and racism, a line that can be indistinct.
“Mayweather’s style in the second half of the fight, then, could be considered one stereotypically associated with a Mexican fighter,” he writes. “Sure, Mexicans like Oscar De La Hoya have employed such a style with great success but a fighter doesn’t have to be from Mexico to box that way, as Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin does. So while McGregor’s comment wasn’t overtly racist and certainly didn’t have malicious intent, it’s still based on a stereotype.”
It certainly drew attention, if not outright condemnation, on social media.
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