SAN DIEGO, Calif., November 9, 2019 – Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, two men make their professional boxing debut. It happens nearly every weekend among aspiring young champions. But it doesn’t take place in the main event of a card in front of a sold-out crowd at a major venue, with the anticipation of millions of people watching.
We didn’t ask for the rematch between YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI (real name Olajide Olatunji), but it’s what we’re getting on DAZN USA starting with an undercard of legitimate athletes including super middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders and rising star Devin Haney at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
If Paul and KSI’s names are familiar to you, you’re probably under 30 and male. For the rest of us, the pair are making a boatload of money with their popular YouTube channels. Paul, age 24, is an American from Ohio who has 20 million subscribers on YouTube, plus two million subscribes to his podcast “Impaulsive.”
Olatunji/KSI, age 26, is a London native who also has 20 million YouTube subscribers who watch his video game reviews and comedy content. Between the pair, they have 9.5 billion views.
How did the KSI vs Logan Paul 2 fight come about?
Olatunji and fellow British YouTube personality Joe Weller settled a Twitter beef with an amateur boxing match in February 2018 at the Copper Box Arena in London. Olatunji, a former high school athlete, won by TKO in the third round and won a “YouTube Boxing Championship” belt. The fight drew a live audience of 1.6 million people live and another 24 million over the next week.
Olatunji then called out Logan Paul among others, and Paul picked up the gauntlet. The pair staged their fight three weeks later in Manchester, England as a YouTube PPV event. The fight ended as a majority draw. One million plus people ponied up $10 each to watch, generating $11 million, plus another $3.5 million for the live gate.
The pair agreed to a rematch tonight under professional rules and fully sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn smelled money, and here we are with KSI vs Logan Paul 2.
The pair will fight six three-minute rounds, no headgear, with all professional rules in place. Paul and KSI weighed in as cruiserweights, 199.25 for Paul, 193.25 for KSI.
Paul is being trained by former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs; KSI is being trained by undefeated cruiserweight Viddal Riley and Jeff Mayweather, uncle and former trainer of Floyd Mayweather. They’ve had proper training camps and didn’t completely embarrass themselves at all revealing themselves at the weigh-in.
Are you mad, boxing bro?
Get on boxing Twitter or read a few articles and you’ll be treated to plenty of hand-wringing over this showdown. It’s a mockery of a travesty of a sham, two rich bros making another pile of money off their devoted fans, aided and abetted by the boxing industry which shouldn’t have lowered itself to this.
Many believe the brawl insults the men and women who devote themselves to soul-crushing training for years, often for very little money, while exposing themselves to the real threat of serious injuries.
Boxing has plenty of its own problems: haphazard enforcement of drug testing, sketchy medical clearances, questionable judging, Fake Belt News, and the failure at times to make the highest quality matchups.
But the Paul KSI 2 fight doesn’t fall into any of these categories. It isn’t complicated. Follow the money, as boxing has always done.
Should you watch KSI vs Logan Paul 2?
This fight is about money all around. The streaming platform DAZN would love to make even a healthy fraction of the money made by the first fight. At $20 a pop, do the math: these guys have 40 million subscribers between them, who’ve been seeing nothing but promotion for this event for weeks. An eight-figure payday will have DAZN exec John Skipper dancing a jig, and maybe he’ll call out one of his former pals at ESPN+. Eddie Hearn will officially become the new Don King and laugh at the rest of us about it.
But if you’re steaming mad about this, allow me to quote boxing fan Taylor Swift: You need to calm down.
Neither man is being subjected to a mismatch. They’re in the same weight division with relatively the same level of experience. They got through an amateur fight unscathed. There will be professionals staffing this bout, and California judges, referees, and physicians are among the sport’s best.
There are far worse mismatches among professionals when rising stars and champions are matched against shot veterans who’ve taken too many punches for pay or less skilled opponents who have no business standing in front of a human wrecking ball. These fights take place for money, too. Paul vs KSI 2 doesn’t commit any of these sins.
Paul vs KSI 2 is a harmless bit of fun for their fans. Yes, it’s a money grab. Reality check: media networks and promoters are in business to make money and they don’t survive without it.
Exposing several million Logan Paul and KSI fans to boxing thinking they’ll stick around is a pipe dream. They’ll only come back if the guys wearing gloves are online celebrities they know. They don’t give a damn about Devin Haney, or Billy Joe Saunders. If Eddie Hearn had figured out a way to get Ryan Garcia on this guard, maybe we’d have a different discussion.
If boxing purists don’t like it, there is an easy fix. Don’t watch. It’s the main event, and you won’t have to stay up so late like you did for Canelo vs Kovalev. Let the kids spend their $20 and they’ll stay off your lawn tonight.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Copyright © 2019 by Falcon Valley Group