Cameras at the July 14 press event, which was intended to drum up excitement for the pair’s Aug. 26 boxing match in Las Vegas, captured the moment for posterity.
While some questioned whether or not the verbal attack had been staged, many Twitter users branded the 40-year-old boxer a homophobe.
Days after the clip went viral, Mayweather’s rep attempted to do damage control, telling TMZ that his client felt compelled to lash out at McGregor because the UFC fighter had addressed him with racial slurs, including “monkey,” offstage.
Mayweather doubled down on that explanation in a Thursday interview with Yahoo Sports, noting, “There are certain boundaries you just don’t cross.”
“I apologized, but him calling us monkeys, you have to realize, we went through years and years of up and down,” he said. “Black Americans went through a lot.”
Describing himself as a “strong individual,” Mayweather encouraged fans to put his heated exchanges with McGregor on their press tour aside and let the forthcoming match speak for itself.
“We live and we learn,” he said, “and hopefully after Aug. 26, he won’t be speaking that same language.”
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