Floyd Mayweather Jr. Didn’t Beat ‘Racism,’ He Just Beat a Racist White Boy (and Made Him Rich)

Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Of the myriad justifications for 1) witnessing the sham “fight” between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor and 2) finding joy in the serial domestic abuser’s win, the worst is that Mayweather’s pummeling of Caucasian Jidenna was some sort of existential victory for blackness. “They” lost last night and “we” won.

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Of course, this distinction was made easier and much more convenient by McGregor’s behavior in the months leading up to the fight, since he was more than willing to using race and racism to taunt, slur and bait. Even if he isn’t actually racist, he was fine pretending to be, and there’s no difference here between the actual and the act. A pretend racist is just a racist with self-esteem issues. Even without McGregor’s prefight bombast, though, boxing flirts and engages with the most tribal parts of our natures, distilling matches down to black guy vs, white guy. Which isn’t fine. But is understandable.

But what also happened is that, in order to justify rooting for someone so unapologetically abhorrent, some (black) fans attached a greater meaning to last night. Mayweather’s victory wasn’t just a victory against some white dude who had zero chance of actually beating him. He beat racism and racists. He beat gentrification and appropriation. He socked every standing statue of Robert E. Lee in the nuts. He set fire to a “Make America great again” hat and then pissed on the ashes. And then used those ashes to light a tiki torch.

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None of this happened. “We” ain’t win shit last night. I’ve been waiting all day for my “Mayweather beat racism” group text to come through, but all I got was T-Mobile telling me my autopay went through. (Maybe it’s buffering or something.) The only winners last night were a man who beats black women and the racist white boy he allowed to fight him. There’s nothing else to take from that, so stop trying.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

People tried to find a deeper meaning in Mayweather/McGregor? For one, considering their respective track records, Mayweather is probably the rare Black person who is worse than some Irish dude playing a racist on TV. Dude went on a Twitter rant shaming a girlfriend who decided to get an abortion. He took this fight because he needed to pay taxes and didn’t want to sell off his toys. When you can make a case that a dude that’s beat up on multiple women that it may not be the worse thing that he might have done, that’s a sick accomplishment.

Instead of the spectacle we were expecting, we got a decent fight out of the deal. McGregor will go back to MMA and make the magic work there, while Mayweather will continue being a trash human. There’s no deeper meaning to this.