By Benjamin Block
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The unprecedented four-cities-in-four-days world tour promotion of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight invaded Barclays Center on Thursday night.
What has transpired so far would have made P.T. Barnum blush.
It would be putting it nicely to say that the atmosphere inside the Brooklyn venue, which swelled to a culturally diverse crowd of 13,165, had a different flavor than the promotion’s previous stops in Los Angeles and Toronto.
The truth is, whether or not Mayweather and McGregor started to feel the fatigue of their whirlwind tour in advance of their Aug. 26 fight, their actions Thursday were disgusting and tired.
Especially McGregor’s, who continued to make racism the focal point of his “entertainment.”
On top of the manufactured and ongoing derogatory, expletive-fueled taunts and pantomiming between the two men, the mixed martial arts specialist doubled down on the racist remark that he hurled at Mayweather in Toronto when he told him to “dance for me boy.”
Minutes after McGregor sauntered down the red carpet extension of the stage Thursday, singing a cappella the lyrics to the Biggie Smalls classic, “Going Back to Cali,” he blurted out, “I’m half-black from the bellybutton down.” That, apparently, was his way to refute rumors that he’s racist against African-Americans. He then proceeded to mimic sexual hip thrusts as “a little present to my beautiful black female fans.”
Contradictory to those actions on stage, McGregor told reporters after the show, “I’m multi-cultured, I don’t even see color.”
Mayweather, who mockingly draped the Irish flag over his shoulders in retaliation for a second day in a row, and bizarrely threw stacks of $1 bills at McGregor, when he wasn’t spewing his own X-rated comments, saw it a different way.
“It’s total disrespect. He came out today and did it again,” Mayweather said in reference to McGregor’s ongoing racist remarks and actions.
What typically makes the promotion of any fight exciting is the absence of rules. Anything can happen, and often times a general lack of order promotes excitement and sells tickets.
But amidst Showtime’s haste to break its own pay-per-view record of 4.6 million buys, set in advance of the 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, the company has allowed the Mayweather and McGregor teams to besmirch tradition.
And the business people supporting both fighters, when they’re not parading around behind microphones, unashamedly are solely focused on making this the most profitable event in the history of sports. Morals and ethics be damned.
“We didn’t ask for this,” Mayweather Promtions CEO Leonard Ellerbe remarked, as he explained why he believes fans, especially casual fans, are the ones that clamored for this fight to happen.
Searching for the words to describe what this tour and impending fight has become, Ellerbe chortled, “Call it what you want, but this (expletive) is big.”
UFC president Dana White, who predicted the showdown to be “the biggest fight of all time,” bluntly elaborated.
“This fight is interesting because it’s two of the right people at the right place at the right time, that’s it,” he said.
And White quickly debunked any idea that McGregor could potentially resort to throwing a kick or mixed martial arts move out of frustration.
“He would be sued beyond belief if he does anything but hit Floyd Mayweather with his hands to the head and body,” White said, declining to guess how much such a fine would be.
McGregor confessed that he has missed UFC-style training and has told White that he wants to fight in the octagon before the end of this year. But when asked how his boxing training is going, McGregor didn’t budge from his original prediction that he made in Los Angeles, when he stated he’d knock Mayweather unconscious inside four rounds.
“I’ll be ready for 12, but he’s going down in four,” McGregor said confidently.
Ellerbe, playing politician, said of McGregor potentially beating Mayweather, “He’s got a chance as good as anybody else does.”
In recalling his favorite fight of Mayweather’s — the 2010 war with Shane Mosley — Ellerbe said that the bout assured him that Mayweather can absorb a barrage of hard hits and still prevail.
Whatever happens on Aug. 26, Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports, whom McGregor called a “weasel” in Toronto for cutting his microphone off, confirmed that “there is no rematch clause.”
Espinoza admitted that McGregor’s attack on him Wednesday in Canada “took me a little by surprise,” but chalked it up as “a stand-up comedy routine.”
Espinoza is probably hopeful that his working relationship with McGregor and his team will be short-lived.
“He’s going to go back to UFC and be a world-wide superstar no matter what happens,” the Showtime executive said.
But for the next six weeks, Mayweather-McGregor will likely continue to build momentum and interest.
Tickets, which will range from $500 to $10,000, go on sale July 24, and beginning July 28 through Aug. 18, Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning series “All Access” will chronicle both camps in weekly episodes leading up to their fight in Las Vegas.
McGregor left Brooklyn quieter than he entered, but not without earnestly clarifying one more thing regarding his preparation for Mayweather.
“He knows absolutely nothing about the way I’m going to approach this fight, so that’s a beautiful position I am in, and I look forward to exploiting that and getting that knockout on him,” he said.
Despite his verbal counterpunching bluster on stage, Mayweather’s headspace as Aug. 26 approaches completely opposes McGregor’s.
“My legacy is already set,” Mayweather said smiling. “This business move right here is unbelievable. They are going to talk about this business move at Harvard.”
Follow Benjamin on Twitter at @benjaminblock21