Mayweather’s choice of attire was inevitably mocked on Twitter, and while many simply put it down to his eccentric taste in fashion, it may have actually been a subtle (albeit brutal) cheap shot at his opponent’s nationality. The point was first raised by a Reddit user, who noticed the similarities between Mayweather’s ski mask and those worn by members of the IRA, a terrorist group operating in Ireland that attempted to stage a violent separation from the UK from the ’60s to the late ’90s. McGregor was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1988, while this conflict was still taking place.
The ski mask, more commonly referred to as a balaclava in the UK, was the IRA’s signature method of concealing their identity, with them cutting holes in the eyes and mouths of the headwear. The below photo depicts a group of IRA gunmen wearing the masks during a training and propaganda exercise in 1977:
Some had argued that the ski mask was intended to represent Mayweather “robbing” those who had funnelled money into the fight, with many expecting him to swiftly defeat McGregor for an easy pay check. While this could still be the case, given McGregor’s frequent references to his home country throughout the build-up to the fight — at the weigh-in he repeatedly shouted “Eire!” in Mayweather’s face — it seems more likely that this was a dig at the UFC champion’s beloved homeland.
Mayweather went on to defeat McGregor in the tenth round via TKO, with the referee stopping the fight after McGregor endured repeated blows to the head. Mayweather earned a substantial amount from the bout, with the fight purse, ticket sales and PPV buys contributing to a sum believed to be around the $400 million mark.