Floyd Mayweather Cozies up to Chechen Dictator, Wants to Fight McGregor in Russia

Fightland Blog

By Josh Rosenblatt

There was a time when prizefighters debased themselves by cavorting with mobsters and crooks and even murderers. Those were what you might call simpler times.

These days fighters pimp themselves for oligarchs and warlords and dictators. And who can blame them when you consider this upside-down world we’re now living in, a world where, in one week, the head of the FBI tells Congress his bureau is investigating possible collusion between the campaign of the president of the United States and Russia to undermine the 2016 election, and the former chairman of that campaign (who resigned after it was revealed he’d been part of a secret lobbying operation in Washington on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russian political party two years earlier) is accused of working with a Russian billionaire to nullify anti-Putin opposition in former Soviet states a decade ago? If our president, who has spent his fair share of time over the years cozying up to boxers and mixed martial artists, is willing to risk his reputation and the country for a connection to Russia, what chance do fighters have? Apparently the first step in Russia’s plan to take over the world is to seduce all the insecure, ego-driven, strength-infatuated, power-obsessed, money-driven, delusional macho men of America and proceed from there.

Exhibit A: Last week, former boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. took a trip to celebrate the opening of a new boxing gym in Moscow and to teach a master class, a daylong job for which he was apparently paid upwards of $86,000. And while he was there Mayweather took his private 12-seat luxury plane to the nearby Russian republic of Chechnya, where he was greeted at the airport by politicians and henchmen of the country’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. According to reporter Karim Zidan, the man who drove Mayweather to lunch with Kadyrov was a politician named Adam Delimkhanov, who has “been accused of a host of atrocities” and who even threatened Russian MMA legend (and Putin friend) Fedor Emelianenko after the fighter dared to criticize Kadyrov’s MMA promotion for putting on fights between children last year.

Geopolitical observers will recognize Ramzan Kadyrov as a strong-arm dictator who for the last 10 years, and with the blessing of Putin and his Kremlin, has been turning Chechnya into his own personal playground of political killings, torture, corruption, interrogations, state intimidation, and general repression. MMA fans, meanwhile, may remember him as the man who paid former UFC champions Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, and Chris Weidman vast sums of money to appear at one of his MMA events in Chechnya in 2015. After that trip Werdum showed his appreciation for Chechen hospitality by signing on as the official “ambassador” of Kadyrov’s MMA promotion, Akhmat Fight Club (motto: “Home of the child fight”).  

And now Mayweather is following suit  (Copying mixed martial artists, Floyd? A sign of the times, perhaps?). According to Zidan, after lunch at Kadyrov’s palace, the boxer was driven to the state-of-the-art Akhmat gym in Grozny, where he gazed at the 8000-square-meter facility and complimented Kadyrov on his dedication to combat sports. There is no official report yet on how much Mayweather earned for his appearance, photos of which were, of course, all over Kadyrov’s Instagram (the dictator’s preferred propaganda tool) immediately, but the boxer did tell Russian media the next day he had plans to return and do business with the gym and its owner. “Of course I have to plan for the future and will agree with his team and friends,” Mayweather said, “but we're going to go back and plan to bring with us a top American boxing coach and the best trainers from the UFC.” 

Which brings us up to this bizarre week, a week in which a sitting American president attacked the director of the FBI (on Twitter, of course, which is not unlike Instagram) for propagating “fake news” about his campaign’s ties to Russia while the director was testifying before Congress, and a great American boxing champion told the world that if he had to say right now where he would like to fight UFC champion Conor McGregor should that fight ever come to fruition, he “would choose Moscow.”

Of course he would. 


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