Michael Pavitt

Earlier this week, a debate between British politicians at Westminster Hall provoked headlines and general outrage. The coverage primarily focused on Labour politician Diane Abbott who had outlined the abhorrent abuse she receives on social media on a daily basis.

Abbott detailed how she regularly receives rape and death threats, with the shadow home secretary also detailing the abuse she receives as a black woman in a high profile position. "We are talking about mindless abuse and in my case the mindless abuse has been characteristically racist and sexist," she said.

Understandably, the reaction was universal condemnation of the abuse. But politicians were left scratching their heads as to how to combat these nameless, faceless individuals behind a screen, who can seemingly fire out insult after insult with little consequence.

The debate left me wondering what the dubbed "Twitter trolls" would look like if personified.

Thankfully, some clever promoters have found a way to answer the question. A four-leg stadium tour, dubbed the MayMacWorldTour.

At least that is the impression I took from the four heavily publicised stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London. Although I have since been informed it is to apparently to promote some form of bastardised boxing match. 

The sporting merits of the August 26 boxing showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor are open to debate. The former has won all 49 professional fights in his 20-year career, while the latter is set to compete in his first boxing match, having made the switch from mixed martial arts (MMA) in order to make a fortune. I mean, to test himself against one of boxing's greats.

There is no doubting either man's success in their respective field. Mayweather is clearly one of the finest boxers of his generation. McGregor is the face of MMA's Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It is clear, however, that they are both pretty loathsome individuals.

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor have been accused of sexist and racist comments in the build-up to their fight ©Getty Images
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor have been accused of sexist and racist comments in the build-up to their fight ©Getty Images

I found myself watching the coverage of the four stops of the tour, mostly through curiosity. McGregor, who has effectively been billed as one of the great orators of our time, naturally stoked up attention for the fight by provoking a storm around race.

"A lot of media seem to be saying I'm against black people," McGregor said. "That's absolutely ridiculous. Do they not know I'm half-black? I'm half-black from the belly button down." Mayweather, naturally, managed to make a homophobic comment.

Thankfully, the promoters stepped in. Well, by stepped in, I mean walked into the arena grinning from ear to ear as they were aware the impending controversy would generate headline after headline, with the continued hype then leading to greater sums of cash rolling in.

Of course, why would the UFC's Dana White come out and condemn comments made by McGregor? The businessman has reportedly claimed he has no problem with the depths the talk has descended to. Ultimately, the UFC's biggest name in McGregor is raising greater awareness for his product.

There is no incentive for the promoters to punish this. Regardless, what would any punishment involve? You can't fine fighters before a money-spinning fight. What possible impact would it make?

The fact they are making a fortune from a potentially farcical fight does not concern me in the slightest. The absurdly manufactured conflict between the pair, which will immediately switch to respect after the fight, should however be turning people away.

Any criticism will likely be swatted away with the notion that this is what the industry is like. Boxing and MMA are conflict sports, so who really cares about what is said before the fight? There are countless examples of similar incidents happening throughout the sport's history.

Comments made by British boxers David Haye and Tony Bellew helped to sell their fight earlier this year, while Haye's clash with Derek Chisora was embarrassingly promoted via a pre-fight brawl.

Also, anything involving Tyson Fury seems to fit this bill.

UFC promoter Dana White has claimed he has had no problem with the pre-fight talk ©Getty Images
UFC promoter Dana White has claimed he has had no problem with the pre-fight talk ©Getty Images

Interestingly, the eagerly anticipated heavyweight encounter between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko was conducted with effectively no animosity. Perhaps, if you have a good product people will watch without the slanging matches.

But what do I know. After all, British television channel ITV2 has built a reality "dating" programme called Love Island, solely on the premise of conflict. British 400 metres runner Theo Campbell has been one of the "stars" of the latest series, squaring up to another contestant as each back-stabbed the other to "couple up" with a girl.

It is clear that people think confrontation sells. The Premier League has been sold on grudge matches between teams and managers. Headlines are still generated by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho's "specialist in failure" comment about Arsenal's longstanding boss Arsene Wenger. While unnecessary, his comment was hardly offensive.

McGregor and Mayweather’s comments are, however, offensive. And they need to be referred to in such a manner, not lapped up as entertainment.

Only last month the BBC headed to McGregor's first gym in Ireland, where a boxing trainer explained how each of the athletes are shown how to fight, but are also taught discipline and respect. What message does it send to those athletes when the gym's most famous graduate is being promoted in such a crass manner?

Footballer Wayne Rooney was handed a two-match ban for swearing into a camera after scoring a goal for Manchester United in 2011. His comment was condemned at the time.

A clip of McGregor, just over one minute long, was published by channel BT Sport earlier this week. The clip contained seven expletives, including the revelation that Mayweather was “f****** 40". What a genius he is, highlighting that his opponent is old to be a boxer.

Was there a call for him to be sanctioned for his language? Not exactly. The video was captioned "non-stop entertainment" with a link encouraging people to follow live.

Wayne Rooney was once banned for swearing into a camera, while Conor McGregor's expletive ridden rants are dubbed entertainment ©Getty images
Wayne Rooney was once banned for swearing into a camera, while Conor McGregor's expletive ridden rants are dubbed entertainment ©Getty images

There is a need for boxing and MMA to grow up and enter the 21st century. There is also a need for the abhorrent comments made to be treated as they would be in other sports, rather than promoting it as entertainment.

Although, I guess we all have managed to readdress the balance this week while grandstanding over Andy Murray correcting a journalist’s "casual sexism".

The reporter said that Sam Querrey was the "the first US tennis player to reach a major semi-final since 2009" in a press conference, missing out the world "male" and seemingly ignoring the achievements of Serena Williams.

Having patted ourselves on the back, we could get back to watching Johanna Konta in action as the first British woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final since Virginia Wade in 1978.

Hang on, didn’t Jordanne Whiley reach the wheelchair singles semi-final last year?

Oh, never mind...