GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Recently retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. accused HBO's announcers of bias against him and other black fighters.
Mayweather, a 31-year-old former Olympic bronze medalist from Grand Rapids, told The Grand Rapids Press in an interview Friday that the network "is great," but criticized its boxing announcers.
"They talk about Kelly Pavlik, a white fighter, like he's the second coming. Or they go crazy over Manny Pacquiao. But I'm a black fighter," Mayweather said. "Is it racial? Absolutely. They praise white fighters, they praise Hispanic fighters, whatever. But black fighters, they never praise.
"I've noticed it for a long time but I couldn't say anything because I had to do business with them. I'll still do business with them, but I'm done holding my tongue."
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said in a statement that the network, which has carried many of Mayweather's fights, was disappointed to hear of the boxer's remarks and denied his claims.
"Floyd is a tremendous athlete who gave his all to the sport. We have nothing but admiration for what he accomplished in the ring," Greenburg said. "His remarks regarding HBO broadcasters and executives are unfortunate and we could not disagree more."
Mayweather gave the interview on the first day of a three-day retirement celebration in downtown Grand Rapids. Boxing's pound-for-pound king abruptly retired last month at the peak of his athletic skill and earning power.
"I'm happy. I feel clear. I feel free as a bird," he told the newspaper. "I feel good that I can finally speak out, and say the things I want to say."
Mayweather called it quits at the close of a remarkable 18-month stretch in which he beat Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, made more than $50 million in the ring and became a bankable celebrity outside it.
In the past year alone, Mayweather has appeared on "Dancing With the Stars," worked on his record label, served as the honorary starter at the Indianapolis 500 and entered the wrestling ring for a choreographed tussle.