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.