Money jibe as pre-fight hostility gains currency

Floyd Mayweather walks away from a jeering Conor McGregor (wearing floral trousers) after showering the Irishman with dollar bills at the Barclays Centre in New York on Thursday, during their four-stop tour.
Floyd Mayweather walks away from a jeering Conor McGregor (wearing floral trousers) after showering the Irishman with dollar bills at the Barclays Centre in New York on Thursday, during their four-stop tour.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Floyd Mayweather went on the attack on Thursday, branding Conor McGregor a quitter as the four-stop tour hyping their cross-combat superfight hit New York.

"Eejit" and "Circus Clown" were the tamest epithets the former welterweight king, who retired from boxing with a perfect 49-0 record in 2015, threw at McGregor, one of the biggest stars of mixed martial arts.

"Gave up not once, not twice but three times!" said the American boxer, taunting his opponent. "Real fighters never give up."

McGregor, a two-division champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has conceded three times in 24 bouts.

The two men are set to face each other in a boxing ring in Las Vegas on Aug 26 in what could be the richest fight in history.

Thursday's show at the Barclays Centre, home of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Brooklyn Nets, drew a pro-McGregor crowd of more than 13,000.

The Irishman paced impatiently as Mayweather made his way to the stage and they took their positions for the ritual staredown from opposite sides of the podium.

A giant step forward from each had them nose to nose and brought more cheers from the crowd before McGregor launched into a lewd, crude address.

"No one's going to stop me walking around this place like I own it," he said.

Mayweather, meanwhile, was all indifference until it was his turn to speak. After a little back-and-forth interaction with the crowd, he showered McGregor with handfuls of dollar bills taken from his backpack - a day after McGregor mocked the paltry stash of cash that "Money" had brought to their promotional stop in Toronto on Wednesday.

"They're all ones," McGregor said.

"Because that's all you're worth," Mayweather replied.

As several critics have pointed out, the fight seems at face value to be an outlandish mismatch, with McGregor making his professional boxing debut against an unbeaten Mayweather.

But the underdog role is one that fits McGregor as he recalled similar predictions before he beat Jose Aldo to win the UFC featherweight title in late 2015.

"They said the same things then as they're saying now," he said.

"They said I had no chance. They said he kicks too hard.

"But it took me 13 seconds."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Money jibe as pre-fight hostility gains currency'. Print Edition | Subscribe