UFC announcer Bruce Buffer has rejected claims made by retired boxer Floyd Mayweather that Conor McGregor gets away with trash talk due to the colour of his skin.
Buffer spoke to TMZ as he left Gold’s Gym and was asked about the remarks made by Mayweather. The announcer claimed UFC featherweight champion McGregor is one of the biggest stars in sport for a variety of reasons, not due to his race:
The bottom line is that perception is reality, and people perceive you the way they want to perceive you, and this involves whether you’re black, white, red, yellow or purple. And that’s just the way I look at it. ...
We need to play racism down in this country. We have enough issues going on rather than throwing more gasoline on the fire. Why not look at it like, "Hey, Conor McGregor is saying what he’s saying, he’s backing up everything he’s saying, people are listening to what he’s saying." And, y’know, when Floyd talks people listen to Floyd too.
But they’re two different people from two different fighting sports and they’ll be perceived the way the want to be perceived by the public masses. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s a look at the exchange between Buffer and TMZ in full:
Speaking in an interview with FightHype.com (h/t Ryan McKinnell of Yahoo), Mayweather claimed it's "biased" that McGregor is popular for the same brash persona that he was so often derided for over the years. He went on to state, “I ain't racist at all, but I’m telling you that racism still exists.”
However, combat sports journalist David Kano doesn’t feel as though these are claims which have any veracity:
David Kano @TheDKano
Floyd 'Money' Mayweather plays race card, says McGregor & Rousey are popular because they are white.. Questionable statement w/ no validity.1/5/2016, 6:16:37 PM
McGregor’s astonishing rise in the featherweight division of the UFC culminated in a stunning 13-second win over the weight class’ longstanding king Jose Aldo last month.
Throughout his rise, the Irishman has ruffled a few feathers. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but McGregor’s charisma, bold words and ability to back them up has helped him become the sport’s biggest superstar. In the process, he’s attracted many more fans to the UFC, and you can bet he will continue to do so in 2016.
McGregor’s antics seem to get under the skin of his opponents too, as was evident when he snatched Aldo’s title belt during a press conference last year:
The Irishman is also appealing to the casual fan, as his remarks are always likely to get people talking regardless of their level of interest in the sport.
Mayweather retired from boxing last year with an impeccable career record of 49 wins in 49 fights, and he has never been one to mince his words.
His mastery of the fundamentals of the sport meant that plenty of boxing fans adored him. He was extremely slick inside the ring and one of the cleanest punchers of his generation, and he showed an unshakeable determination to get over the line in tight fights. All of those qualities were on show in earnest during memorable wins over the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.
The boxer divides opinion, though. Mayweather served a two-month jail term for attacking his ex-girlfriend, per the Daily Mail, and his history of domestic violence did little to endear him to the public.
Also, unlike McGregor, Mayweather has been on the scene for a long time, dominating at the summit of the sport for the better part of a decade. He was often viewed as a man who cherry-picked opponents, a boxer who put world-class defence above all else.
While nobody would deny the skill Mayweather possesses, his defensive style in the ring also led to accusations of his fights being dull.