Americans STILL Don’t Support American Fighters

By Paul Magno on August 31, 2018
Americans STILL Don’t Support American Fighters
Boxing’s hardcore fans and “purists” are complicit in this snubbing of America’s finest.

Things would probably be better for American boxing if American fighters were given the superstar, hero treatment reserved for foreigners…

For the last few years, boxing writers have bombarded fans with talk of the Eastern Bloc’s invasion of boxing.

“They’re taking over,” they’d say. “They work harder, fight braver, are willing to take on all comers. They’re gonna own this sport.”

Well, those waiting for the takeover are still waiting. And the tsunami of former Soviet Bloc athletes blasting mainland America is, really, more like a mid-sized surfer’s wave.

Yes, opening the doors to the East has brought lot of new talent to the professional ranks. But there’s no real invasion and, certainly, no takeover.

Russia’s Sergey Kovalev did well for himself and accomplished a lot, even becoming one of HBO’s “go to” draws after the network pretty much chased away most of their other high-end talent. And, of course, Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin and the Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko are elite-level players and extreme media darlings, drawing nothing but fawning praise for everything they do.

The rest of the “invasion,” though? There are a few talented non-main eventers sprinkled around the US outlets, like Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, some intriguing second-tier characters, and a bunch of “bloc” fighters of varying levels that have settled into the European scene.

None of them have done much to revitalize the American fight scene. Even “draws” like Golovkin and Lomachenko only produce respectable numbers when compared to the other paltry numbers of the here and now—and that’s after years of mega-hype and non-stop elevation from networks and media.

What COULD revitalize the American fight scene, however, is if the media and networks worked to hype domestic talent as much as they have done with foreign talent. Some may say that Golovkin and Lomachenko are special fighters and deserve the extra push. Yeah, okay, but Terence Crawford, Errol Spence, and Mikey Garcia are also special fighters—just as entertaining, just as accomplished, and willing to “take on all comers.” Plus, in terms of raw numbers, they have done just about as well as “GGG” and “Loma” when it comes to drawing power (when given equal platforms).

So, where’s the overblown, almost embarrassing, hype about the top US talent? Why do these American standouts not get the same superstar treatment from network suits and media keyboard slappers?

There could be a racial component to it. Historically, the media has regarded white fighters as harder working, more courageous, grittier battlers than African American fighters. This “Eastern Bloc Invasion” plays right into those stereotypes, especially in an era where business talk has become a bigger part of public boxing discourse. Maybe the idea—even if subconsciously—is to embrace those who fit the profile of what “purists” see as “real” fighters. Also notice that when Mexico had several high-end fighters competing in the US, drawing solid TV ratings and selling out arenas, there was never any talk of a “Mexican Invasion.”

For the longest time, the talk was that African American fighters weren’t exciting. They boxed too much, were too defensive, didn’t engage enough. That talk endured in the era of Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins, but it’s just not the case anymore. Spence, Crawford, the Charlo brothers, Jarrett Hurd, and Deontay Wilder are all elite-level/main event-level talents with aggressive mindsets and brutal finishing power.

The American fight scene is jam-packed with quality domestic talent at the moment, maybe more so than at any point in recent boxing history. But none are embraced by media or pushed as aggressively by the networks as the now two-man ex-Soviet Bloc invasion of Golovkin and Lomechenko. And, frankly, boxing’s hardcore fans and “purists” are also complicit in this snubbing of America’s finest.

It’s hard to say how much better off the US fight scene would be if there was a concerted effort to amp up the push given to the country’s homegrown best. But it’s safe to say that things would probably be better for American boxing if American fighters were given the superstar, hero treatment reserved for foreigners.

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  1. george otto 08:18pm, 09/02/2018

    Too many USA fighters ending up broke and mentally/physically disabled.  In addition to all of that, too many terrible decisions going against the obvious winner.  Also, not enough fights among the best fighters in each division.  Will never flourish without a national commission which can ensure a sense of safety, competitiveness, fairness, authenticity in the most important areas of the sport.

  2. Casanovita de Ahome 03:05pm, 09/01/2018

    McCain’s at a reunion with Dolores Apocaca Alfond her brother Major Victor Apodaca and all of the other POW/MIAs whose fate he sealed….a reunion that will last for all eternity!

  3. ceylon mooney 07:36am, 09/01/2018

    this article is an anachronism.

    also, there is no anti-white media bias in the USA. thats patently and measurably false.

    the great white hope bullshit went extinct with cooney. the last time the american public or the american sports fan public was excited about boxing ALL of the stars were black. holyfield, lewis, tyson, whitaker and on and on. it was during the era of white heavyweight champions that the US totally lost interest. there have been some good half measures, but the business of boxing in the US is dead set against doing whats necessary to make it popular again among the general population.

    in addition, the ONLY real professional boxing match fight that caught the attention of the general public in this era was between a black american and a filipino.

  4. Chico Salmon 06:52am, 09/01/2018

    This article is dookie. Latin American fighters like Roberto Duran and Carlos Monzon were given the star treatment, they were embraced by the American media and many American fans back in the day. Ray Leonard was almost as iconic as Muhammad Ali, a lot of the hatred Duran had for Leonard was Leonard’s popularity and the attention he received from the American media. Hell, anytime Victor Galindez was on the tube, I was there, one of my favorite fighters for some reason. The only “racial component” here is the writer’s own racism. None of the current crop of American fighters, regardless of race, are the type of fighters that would stoke the average fight fan’s interest, much less the average American sport’s fan or Joe The Plumber. The Eastern Euro “invasion” is something RELATIVELY NEW, regardless of your opinion of the fighters, it makes for interesting copy, and maybe it would grab the interest of non-boxing fans. Something new to bring to the table.

  5. Rufus99 05:30pm, 08/31/2018

    There is a racial component to this. Boxing media watched the UFC flourish with with white stars. They figure boxing could attract the 18-34 white male demographic with white stars of its own. So GGG, Kovalev and Loma were promoted as the faces of boxing. Look at G, two tough fights his whole career, TWO, both close, neither classics. But you listen to Rafael and DFischer, he’s a sure first ballot HOF’r. Loma, 13 pro fights, the GOAT, you listen to these guys. And Krusher, well, the Gillian Andre Ward, the last USA Olympic gold medalist ended him. He would have ended G but he didn’t want that work.

  6. Casanovita de Ahome 03:41pm, 08/31/2018

    BTW both Joey and Travis could whip Bellew’s azz to a frazzle!

  7. fan 03:06pm, 08/31/2018

    Instead of waiting for the stardom fight, boxing should help beginner, Olympics guys and young pros.

  8. Casanovita de Ahome 01:01pm, 08/31/2018

    Oops! Almost forgot Mikaela Mayer!

  9. Casanovita de Ahome 12:43pm, 08/31/2018

    What “active” white American fighters are you talking about any damn way?! Joey Dawejko…Travis Kauffman….Joe Smith Jr…Joey Spencer??? In recent times only one stands out   Kelly Pavlik and that’s it! Let’s face it hard core guys like Greg Haugen and Jesse James Hughes are few and Goddamned far in between!

  10. nicolas 10:11am, 08/31/2018

    Well I don’t know of boxing writers who have talked about this great Eastern Bloc invasion. Maybe boxing fans on this site and some others who have commented. Certainly though in Europe this invasion added significantly to the improvement and change in the landscape of European Boxing. What is ironic though, while Boxers from what was once the Soviet Union are still making tremendous impacts, the rest of the eastern bloc countries are not making such significant changes. Look at German boxing today. When Eat Germany fell as a government, you had many good German fighters, most notably Henry Maske who made a huge impact on the sport there, so much so that Germany was one of the top three boxing markets, even ahead of Great Britain. Where is German boxing now? As far as USA boxers, The problem really also is no white talent. Who has been big since Kelly Pavlik? While Sugar ray Leonard and Marvin Haglar where stars in the 80’s, there were others like Ray Mancini and Sean Ogrady, and who can forget Gerry Cooney. the world is also becoming more global. It is not hatred towards Crawford or Spence, but it is people who see people who look like them. Also white Americans have ancestral roots. I would not be surprised if Tyson Fury defeats Deontae Wilder in Vegas, that he becomes a big American star. I think that with Trump’s recent attacks on the NFL and NBA, he has tapped into something. Though this is unfortunate.

  11. Donald Grant 08:33am, 08/31/2018

    I agree with Chico. Whatever else “Historically, the media has regarded white fighters as harder working, more courageous, grittier battlers than African American fighters” is, it certainly isn’t historical. Post-Jack Johnson, the best black fighters have been openly and justifiably lauded. Certainly true of Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, just to mention two. And Muhammad Ali was positively worshipped! Still is. The last white fighter to enjoy similar attention and admiration was probably Rocky Marciano.

    I also agree with Chico that the main problem is that most American sports fans, never mind the general public, no longer have any interest in boxing.

  12. Chico Salmon 07:51am, 08/31/2018

    “Historically the media has regarded white fighters as harder working, more courageous, grittier battlers than African American fighters?” WHAT? What alternative universe do you reside in. This might have been true back in the days of Jack Johnson but since the 1960’s, white fighters are often lambasted by a very bias anti-White media. I think that much of the lack of interest in boxing today (at least in America) stems from the media’s lack of coverage of the reign of the Klitschko brothers. The average American doesn’t care about two 118lbers slugging it out for the IBF Mosquito-weight title, but they DID care who the heavyweight champion was, well at least they used to.  America has shown plenty love for African American fighters like Ali, Foreman, and even Mike Tyson. America’s lack of interest in American fighters is because the average American no longer cares about boxing.

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