This is not a new issue in boxing. Observers have made the point before. Unlike any other group of boxing fans anywhere in the world, American fans are less likely to be loyal to their own fighters. Welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. recently brought this subject back into the light.
Recalling his own trip to the UK on Brian Custer’s Last Stand podcast, when he captured his first world title against Kell Brook in 2017, the now two-belt champ marveled at the support British fans had for the Britain-born Brook. It spotlighted the lack of support American fighters have in their own back yard.
He brought all this up in relation to the apparent edge in support Tyson Fury has over Deontay Wilder.
“I’m always going to root for my countryman just like they always root for their guy from the UK,” said Spence. “He’s [Deontay Wilder] the hometown guy, he’s the American kid. That’s what I don’t like either. I don’t like how the American guys are rooting for Tyson Fury and he’s from the UK when all the UK guys are going for their guy. All the boxers are going for Tyson Fury and all the fans are going for Tyson Fury. We’ve got people here that have got split support. A lot of Americans are going for Tyson Fury. I don’t like that a lot.”
Deontay Wilder, himself, opined on this back in 2017.
“It’s mind boggling to see Americans support others before they support their own,” the then-champ told Showtime.
Wilder and Fury, of course, are headed for a third showdown. In their first, the two fought to a controversial draw. In the rematch, Fury scored a seventh round TKO in a one-sided blowout.
But this apparent lack of American fan loyalty goes beyond Fury-Wilder. As I wrote in a previous piece for another site:
“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 ramp 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.”
Floyd Mayweather has also touched on the issue of American fight fans not supporting American fighters. Bernard Hopkins, too. Actually, a lot of American fighters have wondered about their lack of home country support.
All of this could just be about American fans being fickle. The United States has been the main stage of the fight scene for so long. They simply don’t respond to the sport’s tribalism aspect. US fans just want what entertains them. There’s been a long-time bias against their own talent being too concerned with business to be embraced as warriors.
There could also be a racial component to it as white fighters are embraced by a mostly white media and power structure.
Whatever the case, it’s true that American fight fans are not as nationalistic as other fight fans. It’s definitely not helpful to the promotion of the sport in the US.
Promoters and managers should be looking for ways to turn this dynamic around. Unfortunately, they don’t seem all that effective in doing so at the moment.