Gareth A. Davies looks at the part race has played in making Saturday’s (August 26) boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor arguably the biggest combat sports spectacle of all-time.
Khaled A. Beydoun, an associate law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, says the August 26 boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight is not just about “record-breaking revenue” but also “a ‘great white hope’ that has long eluded championship boxing.”
Race, and the demographics of followers, he theorizes on The Undefeated, has played its part in making this fight in a time where MMA has had a meteoric rise and boxing has continued to decline.
This is no new theory, of course; boxing has long placed a value on ‘The Great White Hope’, believing it attracts a certain demographic and is a bankable commodity for promoters. But is it now, in 2017, an archaic idea? Is it at all relevant to Mayweather vs. McGregor and the so-called biggest fight in combat sports history?
“With no great white American hope in the ring, and no promising contender on the horizon, boxing is still without what it needs to capture the attention of the coveted white male fanbase,” he said. “McGregor, far more the mixed martial artist than boxer, offers what the sport has long fantasized about: a brash, charismatic showman outside of the ring who not only talks a good game, but delivers by way of victories and the brutal knockouts fans crave; especially the legions of white male fans who have come to adore him and flock to the UFC en masse to see his fights…
“In a world (of combat sports) where the racial identity of the champion is big business, McGregor’s whiteness has maximized his ability to cash in, and the UFC to reap even greater dividends. White and McGregor, Mayweather and his de facto promoter Al Haymon – the central figures behind the Mayweather vs. McGregor super-fight – are intimately familiar with the specific demographics that follow their respective sports, and understand the salience of race in a showdown that pits boxing’s longtime kingpin with the UFC’s biggest star.
“For boxing, the super-fight will summon the white male fan base and its enormous dollar back. For probably just one megafight, or if McGregor could pull off a near miracle, presents boxing with the larger-than-life white fighter it has not had in decades.”