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.
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.
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.