LOS ANGELES -- Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather says he has no problem coming out of retirement to fight mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in what some are predicting will be one of the richest fights in history.
“McGregor is a tough competitor. People all around the world demanded this fight so I had to give them what they wanted to see,” Mayweather told BSOTV in an interview that aired Saturday.
“They asked for this fight. I was in retirement, but they wanted me back and I’m back.”
Mayweather was making his first public comments since Wednesday’s announcement of the much-discussed fight which will take place August 26 in the US boxing capital of Las Vegas.
The 40-year-old Mayweather has been retired since beating Andre Berto in September 2015 and improving his career record to 49-0.
The matchup with McGregor gives Mayweather a chance to reach the 50-0 career milestone.
Asked about financial details of the fight, Mayweather said both sides are pleased.
“Both parties are very happy,” Mayweather said. “He’s very happy, I’m very happy and I can’t wait.”
But many boxing experts have slammed the event as an exhibition spectacle, pointing to the fact that the 28-year-old McGregor has never had a professional boxing match and only dabbled in the sport as a teenager.
The pair have yet to get together face-to-face since the announcement but they are expected to announce a promotional tour soon that will take them to a couple of major US cities.
“You’re supposed to stand behind your man. Stand behind the fighter that you believe in,” Mayweather said about McGregor’s supporters. “He’s a hell of a competitor.”
Meanwhile, promoter Kathy Duva says the Mayweather-McGregor fight is “bad for boxing” and the backlash from the exhibition spectacle will likely dog the sport for years to come.
“Of course it’s bad for boxing,” said Duva. “It’s going to suck up all the air in the room.”
Boxing legend Mayweather and mixed martial arts superstar McGregor announced plans on Wednesday for a boxing showdown that could become one of the richest bouts in history.
“You’re all going to write about it. People will get all excited,” Duva said of the competition. “And the casual fans we always want to bring into the tent are going to be disappointed again.
“It’s going to be years before they want to see another boxing event,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
Mayweather, who is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, is a heavy favorite against McGregor -- who hasn’t boxed competitively in the ring since he was a teenager.
“It’s not a boxing event, it’s a spectacle,” said Duva, who is the promoter for Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev, who will fight Andre Ward in a world title light heavyweight rematch on Saturday.
“On the other hand, when this is over and this fight ends up the way I expect it will, the next time somebody asks me, ‘MMA or boxing, what’s the better sport?’ I’ll say, ‘We know who the bad asses are because Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor just got their asses kicked by two boxers.’