What started as an amateur match between two YouTube influencers to settle an Internet feud has now changed the world of boxing. Not only has the sport’s audience grown by millions, but there are several new YouTubers-turned-boxers entering the professional ring.
With supporters of these content creators tuning in to watch their matches, boxing viewership is on the rise, especially among young demographics. Without a doubt, the YouTube boxing trend is helping grow the sport’s popularity by creating a new generation of boxing fans.
The popularity of YouTube boxing has become so immense that one of the biggest names in boxing history, Floyd Mayweather, agreed to fight social media sensation Logan Paul. The fact that the two would even be in the same ring together is shocking, showing just how much of an impact YouTube boxing has on the professional industry.
The skill gap between the pair is massive, and although the chances for a victory in Paul’s favor are slim at best, the fight is highly anticipated, with millions expected to watch by pay-per-view. And, on the off-chance that Paul, a YouTuber with just one professional match–which he lost–under his belt, is victorious, Mayweather’s boxing legacy will most definitely be tarnished before the eyes of millions. Not to mention that there’s an 18-year age difference between the competitors; Paul is 25 and Mayweather is 43. Paul has potential to shock the world and break the barriers between YouTube and boxing.
While most first heard of YouTube boxing from the infamous KSI vs. Logan Paul match, the trend actually began with KSI and Joe Weller when they faced off in the ring for an amateur boxing event in 2018. The fight resulted in KSI winning by TKO in the third round, and he later called out Logan Paul to be his next opponent.
The fight drew over 1.6 million live viewers, and 25 million more views in the same week, making it the biggest amateur boxing fight in history at the time. This is when YouTube boxing took off, as many other content creators such as KSI’s brother Deji, Logan Paul’s brother Jake Paul, AnEsonGib and JMX also joined the trend.
The first fight between KSI and Logan Paul ended in a draw, which led to a rematch the following year. This contest was for money, and KSI came out on top with a split-decision victory. This time around, their fight garnered more than 100 million views, which was the third most streamed fight of 2019 on the sports streaming platform DAZN.
Several professional boxers such as former heavyweight champion Tyson and current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua have shown their support for the trend. Tyson has credited the famous YouTube personalities with reviving boxing while Joshua said he is glad it is “bringing a whole new audience to the fight game.”
Although some, including superstar boxer Canelo Alvarez, have criticized this rising trend as disrespectful, saying that these YouTubers are abusing the sport for money, I view it as a way to help grow boxing’s popularity. Regardless of whether YouTubers are fighting solely to make money, if they are training like professionals and taking such a hazardous sport seriously, I see no problem with it.
The future of boxing looks bright with the addition of talent from other platforms. It will be exciting to see how these YouTube stars measure up to professional boxers in future matches.