YouTubers in boxing

Jun 15, 2021

In the latest instalment of YouTubers infiltrating the world of boxing, social media sensation Logan Paul took on five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition bout at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday 6 June.

Mayweather produced a dominant display despite failing to stop Paul and take victory in the money-spinning fight. In the end no result was declared after the fight lasted the full scheduled eight rounds.

That outcome led Mayweather to concede that internet personality Paul - boxing in only his second professional outing – had surprised him with his performance.

The 44-year-old said about his bout with the man 34.5lbs heavier, six inches taller and 18 years younger than him: “I fought against a heavyweight and I had fun. Even though he hasn’t got much experience, he wanted to use his weight and tie me up tonight.

“He’s a great young fighter, strong and tough. He’s better than I thought he was. I’m surprised by him tonight.”

In perhaps the most telling comment, Mayweather added: “Hopefully the fans enjoyed it.”

Because that’s the crucial element to remember when looking at YouTubers like Logan Paul and his younger brother Jake gate-crashing the world of boxing – they are bringing a huge new audience to the sport and creating fans in the process.

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Spencer Oliver was at the birth of YouTuber boxing when he helped promote KSI vs Joe Weller in a white-collar bout in February 2018. 

He also promoted “the biggest event in internet history", which took place six months later at Manchester Arena when Logan Paul and KSI battled it out for a draw. It was reportedly the most watched boxing event of all time – and broadcast only on YouTube.

After starting out perplexed by the idea of internet stars taking to the ring, Oliver has subsequently praised the Paul brothers, describing them as ‘genuinely nice’ and ‘two very, very, very smart kids’.

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He now believes their exploits will ‘change the future of boxing’.

He said: "Love it or not, this is the world today and you have to embrace it or you fall into the category of being a dinosaur."

Eddie Hearn had a similar change of heart, going from calling YouTubers boxing ‘embarrassing’ to saying he ‘couldn't ignore it’.

When Logan Paul and KSI met in the ring for the second time in November 2019, officially becoming professional boxers, Hearn said: "These guys are heroes and role models. Whether you like it or not, they are!"

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But as for whether YouTubers can ever fully gain respect as boxers? The jury is out.

Some boxing experts like Johnny Nelson don’t believe it’s possible. 

He told Sky Sports: “Point blank no. They can't. They can gain intrigue, they can gain attention, they can gain love or hate. But to gain respect in boxing, you have got to earn your stripes… There's no fast-track for getting respect.”

Other pundits say those YouTubers who show dedication to the sport deserve respect.

Andy Clarke said: “No-one is ever going to look at them and say, 'You're a really good professional fighter’.

“But if you think about people in any sport of any description. Anyone who looks like they are buckling down, and putting the hours in and making the effort, you get respect that way.”

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