Five-weight world champ Floyd Mayweather has recalled Conor McGregor’s order for him to “dance for me” during their acrimonious boxing tour in 2017, revealing that he was subjected to racist slurs in the aftermath of the jibes.
Mayweather was shadow-boxing in front of McGregor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles when the ex-UFC champion interrupted a typically hot-tempered promotional event to mock his opponent, laughing as he told him to perform for him while gesturing as if he was slapping the unbeaten middleweight’s behind.
Leaping off his stool in front of grinning UFC president Dana White, the suited McGregor had his microphone cut while Mayweather stopped boxing and marched past him to give a speech in the build-up to the most lucrative boxing match in history.
Recalling the ruckus in a chat with rapper Fat Joe on Instagram, retired Mayweather said: “When Connor McGregor said disrespectful stuff talking about ‘dance boy’, [people] called us monkeys.
Conor McGregor tells Mayweather “Dance for me boy” for second day in a row despite backlash pic.twitter.com/ZNvDanILZA
“Nobody got behind Floyd Mayweather. This is so crazy. When it’s racism among blacks it’s called colorist. So it’s racism among people right now.
“That’s why every day when I get up I am happy because I did it for myself and for my children. I made sacrifices.”
McGregor had fired the same barb at Nate Diaz before his loss to the American at UFC 196 the previous year.
Floyd Mayweather Snr looked surprised when he was asked whether the incident was racially motivated after the incendiary press conference at which his son had said he was fighting “for all the blacks around the world.”
“I don’t know what that’s got to do with racism,” he replied. “This is a boxing match.”
McGregor flatly denied that his intention had been racist, dismissing any connection with what he called a “dancing monkeys” gym scene from the film Rocky III.
“I never labeled him a monkey or any African American or anyone a monkey,” he told ESPN at the time, calling Mayweather a “rat and a weasel.”
“I would not disrespect any race like that. And his people know that. And you know what? He knows that, too. He knows that deep down, too.”
“[He] tried to twist and manipulate. All I can say, if anyone was offended, is I apologize. But it was not meant in that way at all.
“He knows it, his people know it. It’s a weak move on his part, it is a weasel move on his part.”
Mayweather knocked McGregor out in the 10th round of what proved to be the final official fight of his career so far, announcing his retirement afterwards by saying: “This was my last fight.
“I chose the right dance partner to dance with.”
He is a passionate advocate for fighters being judged on their records rather than their ethnicity.
“We all should be equal,” he said, adding that the Black Lives Matter campaign reflected “what people are fighting for now”.
“Don’t judge me for the color of my skin and I won’t judge you for the color of yours.”
He also pointed out that an “even playing field” required boxers to undergo drug testing measures of the kind laid out by his promotion, The Money Team, before his unanimous decision victory over Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
“Remember, I was a pioneer of random blood-in-urine testing for all athletes,” he said, taking a swipe at Pacquiao’s continuation of his career at the age of 41, a year older than Mayweather was when he beat McGregor.
“I’m a businessman now. I already proved years ago that I was the best – period.
“I made more [money] with McGregor. My faculties and everything else comes first. Your health is your wealth.
“Now Pacquiao fights because he has to. I fight if I want to. So there is the difference.”
Mayweather cruised to a first-round win over kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in Japan on New Year’s Eve 2018 and appears to have another exhibition event in Tokyo lined up after earning $9 million from his first visit, although his plans have been put on hold by travel restrictions during the pandemic.
Pacquiao won a title more than a year ago with a welterweight win over Keith Thurman and appears to be keen on a scrap with McGregor, who fancifully claimed to have retired in June but has strongly hinted this week that he is ready to return.
The Filipino is an outsider to face the former two-weight title holder, with McGregor expected to resume his UFC career against one of his established rivals in the Octagon.