YouTube Boxing events have brought in millions in pay-per-view purchases and have sold out huge stadiums all over the world.
YouTubers KSI and Joe Weller had 20 million viewers for their match
Boxer Mike Tyson supports this shift in traditional boxing, saying it's keeping the sport "alive"
Like it or not, YouTuber boxing has become a multi-million dollar industry and revived the sport in popular culture
If you had told someone ten years ago that a random YouTuber would box Floyd Mayweather on pay-per-view (and survive), they'd say you were out of your mind. But that's where boxing is today. It has been given a new lease on life — but not everyone loves it.
This new phenomenon, known as YouTuber boxing, has brought huge legions of new followers to a sport slowly losing popularity among younger generations, especially with the rise of MMA. Whether it's good or bad for the sport depends on who you ask, but one thing is for sure — it's brought a lot of hot headlines back to boxing.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about YouTube boxing. Keep reading to learn more!
The Birth of YouTuber Boxing
In its simplest terms, YouTuber boxing refers to social media influencers taking part in professional fights. Although it might seem a bit funny at first, the events have brought in millions in pay-per-view purchases and have sold out huge stadiums in Los Angeles, Miami, Manchester, and London.
This particular vein of boxing started back in August 2017. Two popular UK YouTubers, Joe Weller (5 million subscribers) and Theo Baker (800 thousand subscribers), posted a fight between them on Joe's YouTube channel. There wasn't any beef or bad blood between the two — they were just two friends making a video as entertainment.
What took this fun video to the next level was when KSI, a YouTuber with 20 million subscribers, commented on the video that he would "fight the winner." Joe beat Theo, and the beginning of a new segment of large-scale boxing began.
KSI and Joe Weller confirmed their fight for September 2017. They even had to be separated after a physical altercation at an event.
At the time, KSI was being trained by Viddal Riley, a professional boxer. Joe Weller was also training at a boxing gym. As the highly anticipated match grew closer, there were many similarities to "real" boxing matches. Insults were exchanged, press conferences were held, as well as a final weigh-in.
Finally, they fought in Copper Box Arena in London on February 3rd, 2018. The event even had several undercard fights before the grand finale. KSI was heavily favored, but Joe withstood the storm until he lost by TKO in the 3rd round.
In the end, 20 million people watched the fight. This doesn't even include the numbers from the livestream! After the fight, KSI called out the notorious Paul brothers — two famous YouTuber brothers to fight next.
KSI vs. Logan Paul; Moving to the World Stage
Calling out the Paul brothers (Jake and Logan) was just what boxing on YouTube needed to reach the next level. Logan Paul, the older of the two siblings, had 20 million subscribers. He accepted the fight and began training.
KSI's younger brother Deji, who boasted his own 9 million followers, challenged the younger brother, Jake Paul (19 million subscribers) to a fight as well.
As the four began training, it became clear that this fight would become significantly bigger than the last one. It was heavily promoted, including a face-to-face meetup between Logan and KSI at the Mayweather boxing gym in Las Vegas. Two more press conferences were held as well as a final weigh-in before the fight.
Finally, on August 25, the event featured 8 fights in Manchester Arena. Several million more people tuned into the fight. After the six undercards took place, Jake Paul and Deji Olatunji fought.
Although Jake was the heavy favorite, Deji held his own until the 5th round and Jake won by TKO. After that, the much-anticipated fight between KSI and Logan Paul took place. It was incredibly close the entire way and went all 6 rounds. In the end, it was a majority draw, with two judges scoring 57-57 and one other judge scoring 58-57 in favor of KSI.
Because of this, many people speculated that the match was fixed to make more money for a rematch, but a rematch was actually already scheduled before the first fight took place.
The Staples Center Fight
The rematch took place after several reschedulings on November 9th, 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
For this event, two other World Champion fights were scheduled. Billy Joe Sauders and Devin Haney both fought to defend their titles. Putting these two fights as undercards were heavily criticized and were called an "insult to the sport."
However, those on the other side argued that the intention of the fight was to generate a new audience for the sport (which it did quite well).
Finally, the fight began. KSI controlled the early rounds quite well, but Logan came in strong near the end. He was penalized for a few illegal hits that might have cost him the victory. In the end, two judges scored in favor of KSI and one in favor of Paul.
Continued Success of YouTuber Boxing
Since the birth of YouTube boxing videos, the trend proved to be incredibly profitable (and entertaining). since the fights between KSI and Logan Paul, several YouTuber boxing fights have happened, including:
Jake Paul vs. NBA Star Nate Robinson
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Logan Paul
AnEsonGib vs. Tayler Holder at YouTubers vs. TikTokers
Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley
Deji vs. Alex Wassabi
KSI vs. Luis Alcaraz Pineda
With the help of mainstream media as well as significant boxing promoters like Eddie Hearn, these social media fights have become legitimate matches in the world of boxing.
The Downsides of YouTuber Boxing
There's no question that this trend has brought a certain amount of 'life' and spectacle back into the sport. Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has celebrated the social media stars for bringing boxing back "alive."
However, many traditionalists have become enraged at the concept of YouTuber boxing.
Many professional boxers who sacrifice their health and minds struggle to make ends meet fight after fight have been vocally critical about this trend. From their point of view, characters with no boxing backgrounds casually entering the scene and reaping huge rewards can be incredibly irksome.
These social media stars also tend to show a level of disrespect when they earn millions of dollars and flaunt their luxuries that are built off of sloppy fights. Many have called these fights "circus acts."
Some have also expressed their concern over the safety of it all as well. Former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew was quoted as saying, "this is all good when they’re all making a few quid. But, understand: someone is going to get hurt doing this, and it’s going to come back on boxing".
The Upsides of YouTuber Boxing
Despite the obvious divide between traditional boxing enthusiasts and the "new generation" of entertainment novices, there are clearly some benefits to the trend.
The YouTuber boxing rise has brought an entire generation of younger fans into the glorious sport of boxing — many of whom had never seen a single fight in their entire lives. This brings the sport of boxing into the spotlight and may even inspire some to take the sport up for themselves.
There is now more money being put into these fights that allow fighters to join the undercards, build a brand, and gain glory for themselves. Other new opportunities are also being presented as new streaming services and sponsors are being introduced to the fray.
Some of the Most Well-Known YouTuber Boxers
Several social media stars have risen in popularity for through YouTube boxing. Let's take a look at some of the most famous:
1. Jake Paul: Since his debut win over KSI's brother Deji, he has gone on to fight and win against several others, including YouTuber AneSonGib, NBA star Nate Robinson, and even retired UFC fighters like Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren (though his wins against professional fighters have been criticized in regards to legitimacy).
2. KSI: KSI is often given credit for beginning the YouTube boxing craze after fighting Joe Weller. He has since fought Logan Paul and several others.
3. Logan Paul: The older Paul brother had his share of the limelight with KSI. His biggest accomplishment may be sharing the ring with undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather — and surviving until the bitter end.
4. AnEsonGib: One of the most popular fighters in the YouTuber boxing community is AnEsonGib. He has a very fun fighting style and has one of the most entertaining fights against Jay Swingler. He has since been very active, fighting Jake Paul, Tayler Holder, and Austin McBroom.
The Future of YouTuber Boxing
YouTuber boxing has skyrocketed in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. With other events like "YouTube vs. TikTok" and professional boxers and UFC fighters getting involved, it looks like we have yet to see the peak of the sport. Mike Tyson is even planning on holding a contest for content creators.
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