Floyd Mayweather has been involved in beefs with a number of celebrities in recent years. From 50 Cent and T.I. to Adrien Broner and, of course, Conor McGregor, Mayweather has been at the center of plenty of altercations—both physical and verbal—and he has never backed down from a challenge. But a beef with Justin Bieber? Even when you consider Mayweather’s history, we can’t say we saw that coming.
And yet, here we are. With just a few days remaining until Mayweather’s much-anticipated matchup with McGregor, everyone should be focused on the fight and nothing but the fight at the moment. But on Monday, TMZ Sports took some of the focus away from the fight by revealing that Mayweather and his longtime friend Bieber are apparently at odds. According to sources who spoke with TMZ Sports, Bieber has decided to distance himself from Mayweather as a result of some counseling he’s received at the Hillsong Church he attends—and Mayweather is, as expected, not happy about it. He reportedly went "nuclear" when he recently discovered Bieber unfollowed him on Instagram and called him a "traitor."
So how did we get here? Mayweather and Bieber have been friendly for a number of years now, but most people don’t actually know how they first met. They also don’t know just how deep the Mayweather/Bieber union seemingly was before it imploded over the last few weeks. So as we continue to process the news about their surprising split, we decided to take a look back at the history of Mayweather and Bieber’s now-fractured friendship.
January 2012: Bieber compares himself to Mayweather.
A few months before they officially met for the first time, Bieber compared himself to Mayweather during an interview. Even though they had an age difference of 17 years—Mayweather was 34 at the time, while Bieber was on the verge of turning 18—Bieber told V magazine that he saw similarities between himself and Mayweather.
"Now that I’m on top, everyone wants to bring me down," he said. "Everyone’s trying to tug at me and take my spot. Like Floyd Mayweather, he’s the best boxer in the world. Now he is a champion. Every time he goes to a fight now, people are like, 'He’s going to lose this time.'"
April 2012: Mayweather and Bieber meet for the first time.
There are conflicting reports about how Mayweather and Bieber met. Back in 2012, TMZ reported that Mayweather made the first move and reached out to Bieber after seeing his movie, Never Say Never. Mayweather reportedly offered to be Bieber’s "mentor" and told him that he thought Bieber could reach his level of "greatness" if he adopted his work ethic.
But a subsequent Mashable story that was released in February 2015 indicated that Mayweather and Bieber’s first meeting was actually many months in the making and revolved around their mutual interest in a mobile gaming company called RockLive. Mayweather was an early stakeholder in the company, and according to Mashable, Bieber became extremely interested in the company once one of the CEOs told him Mayweather was involved. That reportedly led to the CEO introducing Bieber to Mayweather. It also reportedly led to that same CEO arranging for Bieber to accompany Mayweather to the ring before a fight.
May 2012: Bieber accompanies Mayweather to the ring before his fight against Miguel Cotto.
Hours before Mayweather’s May 5, 2012 fight against Cotto, Bieber sent a supportive tweet to him.
Mayweather responded a short time later by thanking Bieber and telling him to enjoy the fight.
But Bieber ended up doing more than just enjoying the fight. He also accompanied Mayweather to the ring before it. Bieber, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne were part of Mayweather’s entourage that night. Bieber was also allowed backstage access to Mayweather and was one of the first people to congratulate Mayweather after he was victorious against Cotto.
September 2013: Bieber walks Mayweather to the ring for his fight with Canelo Alvarez.
Mayweather took almost a year off after his fight against Cotto before returning to the ring for a May 4, 2013 matchup against Robert Guerrero. And when he made his return, he didn’t have Bieber in his corner. Bieber was in Dubai that night for a stop on his Believe Tour.
But he did have Bieber back in his corner for his next fight on September 14, 2013 against Alvarez. Bieber and Lil Wayne were Mayweather’s special guests and walked with him to the ring as Wayne performed "A Milli."
October 2013: Mayweather and Bieber make it rain at a Houston strip club.
When Mayweather and Bieber first started palling around, some people thought they were just doing it for the cameras. They both benefited from the extra publicity that came their way when Bieber escorted Mayweather to the ring.
But shortly after the Alvarez fight in September 2013, the two were spotted at a Houston strip club called V Live, and it appeared as though they were actually becoming close friends and not just putting on an act before Mayweather’s fights. It sounds like they spent a ton of money during one of their first public outings together, too. A stripper named Diamond documented the night on Twitter.
May 2014: Mayweather and Bieber hit the spa to get pedicures and massages.
If their appearance at a strip club didn’t convince you that Mayweather and Bieber were really friends, then this appearance definitely did. Shortly before Mayweather was scheduled to fight Marcos Maidana, he took a break from training to catch up with Bieber at a spa. The two enjoyed pedicures and massages, while everyone else wondered how in the world their friendship had progressed to this point so quickly.
May 2014: Bieber joins Mayweather as he makes his way to the ring for his fight against Marcos Maidana.
Lil Wayne stole the show during Mayweather’s entrance to the ring for his fight against Maidana. He performed his new single, "Believe Me," for the very first time. But once again, Bieber was right there by his side as a full-fledged Money Team member.
June 2014: Mayweather defends Bieber after an old video of him telling a racist joke surfaces.
This is when everyone found out just how serious Mayweather and Bieber’s friendship really was. In the spring of 2014, an old video of Bieber telling an extremely offensive joke surfaced. The video—which was taken when Bieber was 15 and featured him saying the n-word—had the potential to sidetrack his success and undo everything he had done through the early stages of his career.
Mayweather responded to the video on Twitter just one day after it was released and showed his support for Bieber. And rather than distancing himself from Bieber, he pointed out that "we all make mistakes when we are young."
June 2014: Mayweather continues to defend Bieber after another old racist video surfaces.
While there were some people who were willing to overlook the first old video of Bieber using the n-word, they weren’t as forgiving when yet another video—taken when Bieber was 14—came out. It also featured Bieber using the n-word.
Once again, Mayweather stood by Bieber’s side. He didn’t release another statement, but he did post a clip of The View’s Whoopi Goldberg talking about Bieber’s use of the n-word. She defended him for doing it and said that his age and country of origin were enough to convince her that Bieber didn’t mean any harm when he said what he did. Mayweather tweeted the video to seemingly show that he agreed with her take on the situation.
June 2014: Bieber helps comfort Mayweather’s kids after a car accident.
Less than a month after Mayweather came to Bieber’s aid in light of his potentially disastrous scandal, Bieber returned the favor after Mayweather’s kids were involved in a car accident in Los Angeles.
Mayweather was on the red carpet at the BET Awards when the accident took place, so he called Bieber to see if he could do anything to help. Bieber sprung into action and headed over to the scene of the accident to comfort the kids for Mayweather. He played them some new music in the car to help them stay calm while they waited for help to arrive.
July 2014: Mayweather explodes after a reporter asks him why he hangs out with Bieber so much.
In fairness to the reporter, she wasn’t the only person wondering why Mayweather and Bieber were hanging out so much back in the summer of 2014. But Mayweather didn’t take too kindly to the question and flipped out on her. He claimed "racial profiling" and then moved on to the next question without allowing the reporter to ask him any follow-up questions.
October 2014: Mayweather gives Bieber private boxing lessons.
What good is being friends with Mayweather if you don’t get private boxing lessons from him? That seems to be the approach that Bieber took, because back in the fall of 2014, he strapped on a set of gloves and let Mayweather show him a thing or two in the ring. In the process, he earned the nickname "Money Bags" (sorry, but it didn't stick) and ran through a series of drills in Mayweather’s boxing gym.
May 2015: Bieber takes part in Mayweather's ring entrance for his fight against Manny Pacquiao.
Bieber was once again front and center for Mayweather’s ring entrance. He also took part in some of the pre-fight publicity and even knocked a key Showtime executive out of some important photos that were used to publicize the fight.
September 2015: Security denies Bieber entry into the ring following Mayweather’s win over Andre Berto.
Was this the beginning of the end for the Mayweather/Bieber bond? Doubtful. But after Mayweather won what was supposed to be the final fight of his career, security guards wouldn’t allow Bieber to climb into the ring to celebrate with him. One even threatened to put Bieber into handcuffs if he didn’t step away from the ring.
September 2015: Bieber takes a shot at all of the Mayweather haters.
During an interview with Complex for his October/November 2015 cover story, Bieber went to bat for Mayweather when he was asked about Mayweather's many critics. Bieber referred to them as "stupid" and said that people need to lay off of him.
"With Floyd, he’s just an image," Bieber said. "I think he may not do the best job at being humble, but that’s not his job. I mean, it’s good to see people that are just humble and cool and down-to-earth and chill, but he’s trying to get pay-per-view numbers. He’s saying wild stuff just for attention. When people can just stop being stupid—sorry to say that—but when people can stop reading into it so much and just look at the fact that he’s doing this for entertainment…He’s in a one-man sport."
October 2015: Mayweather and Bieber vacation together in Bora Bora.
After beating Berto to advance to 49-0 for his career, Mayweather decided he was going to spend some time "enjoying the retired life." So he hopped on a flight to Bora Bora—and he brought Bieber along with him. The two documented pretty much every aspect of the trip on social media, too.
June 2016: Mayweather compliments Bieber for his NBA Finals fight.
After Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals in Cleveland, Bieber was involved in a fistfight with a fan who was much bigger than him. Mayweather was impressed by the way he conducted himself, even though he was at a size disadvantage. He told TMZ Sports that Bieber "showed heart" by refusing to back down during the fight.
"I don’t know why he’s fighting," Mayweather said, "but he’s ready. At the end of the day, people will say what they want to say. Justin Bieber ain’t no bitch. He showed he got heart. He showed he ain’t no bitch, so it’s all respect."
August 2017: Mayweather sidesteps questions about his relationship with Bieber.
On several occasions in the weeks leading up to his fight with McGregor, Mayweather has been asked about whether or not Bieber will once again accompany him to the ring, like he has done so many times in recent years. Curiously, Mayweather has downplayed the questions about Bieber. During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, he glossed over Kimmel’s question about Bieber and seemed to suggest that we shouldn’t expect Bieber to be by his side on Aug. 26.
"I’m not really sure," Mayweather said when Kimmel asked him if Bieber will walk him to the ring. "I think he’s going through a lot right now. I don’t think he’s really in music. He’s more into church right now. So I’m praying for him. I wish him nothing but the best. He’s going through a lot right now."
August 2017: Bieber says Mayweather won’t knock McGregor out.
Everyone has an opinion on what the outcome of the Mayweather/McGregor fight will be. But given their history, you would think Bieber would be Team Mayweather all the way. But not so fast. During a recent interview, Bieber said he "didn’t think" Mayweather would win the fight by knockout. He did say he thinks Mayweather will win the fight, but he stopped short of calling for a KO, which some people, including Mayweather’s own dad Floyd Mayweather Sr., took as a shot at Mayweather. During a subsequent interview, Mayweather Sr. said Bieber "don’t know boxing."
August 2017: Mayweather reportedly calls Bieber a "traitor" for unfollowing him on Instagram.
And all of that leads us to where we are today. According to TMZ Sports, Mayweather and Bieber aren’t on speaking terms because Bieber has decided to distance himself from Mayweather after undergoing counseling at Hillsong Church. He has reportedly unfollowed Mayweather on Instagram in an effort to "reset boundaries" between the two, and that has led to Mayweather referring to Bieber as a "traitor."
If Mayweather and Bieber really are on the outs, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. People have raised an eyebrow at their friendship from the very beginning and wondered what they have in common. And now that Mayweather is finishing his fighting career for good and immersing himself in the strip club culture in Las Vegas while Bieber is going the religious route, they seem more different than ever.
But who knows? After all they’ve been through, maybe they’ll eventually get back together again. It certainly wouldn’t be the craziest moment in their friendship, right?