Most articles about the Paul brothers in combat sports have comments describing how fans don’t care. In fact, many of them are showing symptoms of alienation from the sport. The only time most MMA or boxing fans want to see them fight is if they suffer a brutal beating at the hands of a female fighter. That would serve as a nice warning to them not to joke around as combat athletes.
But the danger is that increasing numbers of true boxing fans will turn away from the sport. If they aren’t happy with the direction it takes, then they will simply lose interest. This is dangerous because if the YouTubers also lose interest then boxing will earn even less money than before. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of athletes will be the ones who inevitably suffer from this.
Boxing promoters are some of the most self-indulgent people on the planet. But they’ve shown even more hypocrisy in this situation. When Logan Paul announced that he would fight KSI, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn condemned it. Then he slated the rematch yet helped promote Jake Paul’s clash with Nate Robinson. It’s one of the most dramatic turnarounds since Italy changed sides in World War One.
Tyson went as far as to say that Jake Paul saved boxing. This is about as true as saying that Dana White has an afro. It’s fine to joke about it but that doesn’t make it true. In fact, he has instigated the transformation of the industry from competitive sport to pantomime. It would be hilarious if the YouTubers took control of their own destinies and left the promoters to scrabble. Then the joke would be on Arum, Hearn, and company.
In recent times boxing has seen subscription models enter the picture. DAZN became the most famous after it made Canelo Alvarez the highest-paid athlete in the world. But then their contract broke down in an embarrassing fashion. However, subscribers were able to watch the Paul brothers fight on the platform. Is this really what paying boxing fans want to receive for their buck?
That seems unlikely. If a combat sports aficionado really cares about the sport enough that they’re willing to pay for DAZN’s dodgy service, watching YouTube stars isn’t what they want. It’s a joke to shove this down boxing fans’ throats. They will be pay to watch a pair of legends like Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. scrap it out for the sake of nostalgia, but those fans won’t tune in for just YouTubers.
Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, the status of boxing titles will continue to diminish. One of the many criticisms of the sport is that there are too many belts. Some sanctioning organizations. like the WBC, even have multiple titles in the same weight class. This results in obscure champions nobody has ever heard of and mandatory title fights that no one wants to watch.
Sadly, boxing is on course to back itself into a corner where the money is the overriding factor, not the glory of winning a belt. Of course, this has always been the case but at least it was the champions who dictated terms, not these YouTube viruses. Floyd Mayweather is laughing all the way to the bank because he’s smart enough to exploit both sides of the coin. Nobody can blame him for that but it’s sad it has reached this stage.
There is clearly a generation gap when it comes to these internet personalities because people above the age of 25 just can’t understand what the appeal is. Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman said that he has never seen a more punchable face than Jake Paul’s. Many people would agree with this. The only reason that they will pay to watch him fight a professional athlete is in the hope that he suffers total annihilation.
Everything about Logan and Jake Paul is annoying. From their frat boy bro style to their blatant attempts to rip off real athletes, it’s a miracle that people idolize them. Call us haters, but it’s true. Meanwhile, the likes of AnEnsonGib and KSI add fuel to the fire. All people can hope is that this is just a passing phase and that people will see these imposters for what they really are.
Unfortunately, most fighters are in a position where they can’t afford to say no to fighting on these cards. Boxing is basically a pyramid system. A tiny minority of athletes at the top earn millions of dollars while a majority struggles to make ends meet. The problem is that by fighting on YouTuber cards, these boxers inadvertently validate them.
Furthermore, they don’t receive any major benefits from this. The public exposure is fleeting because casual viewers aren’t that invested in their fights unless they provide a viral knockout moment. Boxing is an increasingly obscure sport and it’s on the brink of transforming into something different. Only time will tell whether or not they can reclaim the sport for themselves.
Young Youtube fans with no knowledge of combat sports fork out money for these events. It’s an obscene waste of money for the product they receive. Also, it’s bizarre because the likes of Jake Paul apparently have money to burn. If he can write Conor McGregor a check for $50 million why does he need to fight? Brain cells are irreplaceable but they don’t seem to care about this.
It’s not like they’re even using the money as a force of good. Obviously, they’re under no obligation to give to charity, but they’re literally milking their public platform without earning it. At least Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. used their exhibition as a force for good because they donated to good causes. But Logan Paul is the type of guy who laughs while filming dead bodies, so it shouldn’t be that surprising.
One of the myths surrounding these events is that it brings eyes to the sport. That’s fine for one-off events, but it has no long-term positive impact on the sport. The people who flock to watch the Paul brothers fight will literally watch them do anything. In short, if a Paul brother isn’t fighting, then they aren’t watching. Boxing promoters will try and say otherwise, but the numbers speak for themselves.
Regular boxers won’t gain anything from this. Devin Haney and Billy Joe Saunders didn’t suddenly receive thousands of new social media followers after featuring on Paul Brothers’ undercards. It’s all about short-term gain for the people running the sport and those looking to exploit it. This may seem cynical but it’s the truth, and anybody who says otherwise is either delusional or a liar.
Make no mistake, these fights are horrendous. There was some novelty to watching Paul fight KSI in the Manchester Arena because it felt fresh. But no serious combat sports fan wants to see this become the norm. Imagine replacing the NFL with high school football for a season because the drop-off in quality would be similar. Sloppy and unskilled, it’s a joke to compare them to professionals.
That’s why celebrities should be careful when they call out a real fighter. The way Anthony Joshua recently outclassed Kubrat Pulev in a heavyweight title fight should be a warning sign, because there are clear levels even within the pro ranks. When the novelty of these internet celebrities wears off, who will actually want to watch them fight? Just tune in to the next UFC or actual boxing event instead.
What must the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Joshua, and Terence Crawford think about all of this nonsense? To give positive attention to either of the Paul brothers is an affront to these great warriors because they dedicated their lives and bodies to boxing. Furthermore, to bring McGregor into the same conversation as Jake is also a joke because their impact on combat sports is so different.
The emphasis on pay-per-view returns over competitive achievements is a sign of misplaced priorities by the media and promoters. World-class champions like Billy Joe Saunders, Devin Haney, and Demetrius Andrade should not find themselves fighting on undercards beneath internet personalities. For combat sports purists, this is just unforgivable and tarnishes the value of titles.
First and foremost, boxing is not a joke or game. Every year, on average, 13 boxers die as a direct result of competition. In 2019, the likes of Patrick Day and Maxim Dadashev died from head trauma immediately after their WBO and IBF sanctioned events. Meanwhile, countless boxers suffer from CTE and dementia from their long and brutal careers. These YouTubers don’t understand that it isn’t a game.
Former NBA star Nate Robinson demonstrated that sheer athleticism isn’t enough. Nobody should want to watch an untrained fighter endure a brutal knockout like that. In all likelihood, there will be a serious injury as a direct result of the greed and hubris of these internet personalities and their enablers. While nobody needs to care about Jake Paul’s health, his platform will diminish younger people’s understanding of this sport’s stark dangers.