Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is often criticized for backing up and running from potential opponents, but he's not backing down from his controversial view on New York Knicks' point guard Jeremy Lin.
Never passing up a moment to get his name in the headlines, Mayweather recently weighed in on the Lin sensation via Twitter, stating that the attention Lin is getting is largely because he's Asian-American. In town on Tuesday at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on the press tour for his May 5 super fight against Miguel Cotto, Mayweather had a chance to back away and soften his stance when asked about the matter. But the undefeated pugilist stood firm.
"Do I regret what I said? Absolutely not," Mayweather said at the Apollo Theater Tuesday. "I stand by what I said, and I meant what I said."
"The media always take your words and screw ’em up. They failed to say that I said the guy was a good player."
The stance that Lin's popularity has something to do with race isn't patently wrong or necessarily racist in itself, but when it comes from the mouth of somebody like Mayweather, it's going to make news.
Mayweather often just says things to say them or to stir up controversy. For instance, earlier this week on the press tour for the May 5 fight, Mayweather called Manny Pacquiao a cheater -- even though there is no evidence whatsoever that the top boxer isn't clean.That claim comes off as an excuse for Mayweather not to fight Pacquiao, the fight that would potentially be the biggest and richest in the history of boxing, and the one boxing and non-boxing fans alike have clamored for for years.
Mayweather's controversial tweets about Lin's popularity simply paint him as a rain-on-the-parader, and not a defender of his race as he alluded to on Tuesday when defending his comments. There's no question that Lin's popularity has something to do with his race; he's an extreme minority in his line of work and has become a hero for his race, appropriate or not. But it's certainly not the only reason he's been getting positive press; the Knicks are 9-3 since he took over at point guard and he outscored Kobe Bryant in a recent dramatic victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, among other eye-popping performances.
If Mayweather is simply "supporting his own" as he said, well, he seems to be the only one. Did LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers shut down Lin last Thursday because of race? If they wanted to shut up the Linsanity, it's probably because the Heat are the best team in the league and they were sick of constantly hearing about the Knicks, a .500 basketball team, regardless of who their point guard is or what he looks like. But again, anything Mayweather says has to be taken with an extreme grain of salt.
Mayweather faces Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 5.