Boxing is in a strange place at the moment, particularly in the UK, with a fight over signatures of the sport’s biggest names between juggernaut promotional teams inflating purses.
Fighters are being well paid but fans are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of blockbuster bouts.
That void has left the door ajar for reality stars and YouTube fighters to muscle in on the action to the extent where we are now seeing pay-per-view events featuring solely YouTube creators.
YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul will be etched in history as the first ‘mainstream YouTubers’ to face off in the squared circle, with their rematch event even featuring world champions on the supporting card!
After a successful first bout, the duo met again in November 2019 in what was again a popular event with a younger demographic but more notably raised eyebrows within the sport of boxing, as two stars of the sport defended their titles on the undercard.
WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney both successfully defended, with their inclusion on the undercard in hope of raising profiles with a different audience – which ultimately didn’t happen.
Since the KSI-Logan Paul contests, many more YouTubers have stepped through the ropes to settle their mostly manufactured ‘beef’ – more similar to something from WWE rather than the sweet science of boxing!
The most notable name is Logan Paul’s brother Jake, who although has seemingly dedicated himself to training and living the lifestyle of a professional boxer has mainly fought retired MMA fighters and even a former NBA player.
Paul notably came unstuck against Tommy Fury, a low-level professional fighter, which truly showed the gulf in class and ability between ‘YouTubers’ and real boxers.
However, streaming platforms such as DAZN and other broadcasters have seen the numbers and continue to entertain this white collar boxing – which has now extended into the world of OnlyFans creators – with pay-per-view events such as the MisFits Boxing series becoming more and more regular.
When Billy Joe Saunders and Devin Haney agreed to fight on the KSI-Paul II undercard it was hoped that their profiles would be increased and those tuning in or in attendance at the event would be wowed by their technical skills and crossover into the world of boxing to become fans.
This has failed to happen and boxing as a whole continues to come up short in an attempt to attract a more casual audience.
To a regular sports fan boxing is still a confusing sport with far too many belts, sanctioning bodies and world champions as well as fighters seemingly going unpunished for failed drugs tests.
YouTuber boxing continues to grow, with those taking part more active on social media and more engaging with fans than 99% of professional boxers and there is certainly an argument that rather than these fighters having a detrimental impact on the sport there is something to be learnt.
The only concern here is the health risks these YouTubers take when stepping into the ring and the negative effect any serious case may have on the sport of boxing.
A light would no doubt be shone on the sport and questions be asked about how dangerous it is.
In theory, this white collar boxing could bring more eyeballs and attention to boxing, but in reality the two now operate completely independently with the only danger being mainstream media ever dressing up the action as anything other than the incredibly low level of amateur boxing that is truly is.