Over the course of the last few years, exhibition boxing bouts and battles between YouTubers have gained popularity. Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition fight against UFC star Conor McGregor back in 2017 raked in millions, and is one of the richest fights on record, whilst Logan Paul’s double-header with British YouTuber KSI also made the pair a fortune, and now Mayweather has agreed to trade blows with online sensation Paul in a bout that will undoubtedly also attract millions of sales.
The former five-weight world champion, who we’re sure will be the massive odds-on favourite in the online betting markets when the odds are revealed, announced earlier this month that he will touch gloves with Paul, who boasts 22 million subscribers on YouTube, in a ‘special exhibition’ fight in February next year. The 43-year-old, who boasts an unblemished record of 50-0, announced the fight on his official Instagram account, with ‘early bird’ pay-per-view sales starting at $24.99 before rising as high as $69.99 in the build up to the fight!
It will be Mayweather’s third exhibition bout since announcing retirement after beating Andre Berto at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, to retain his WBA (Super), WBC and The Ring welterweight titles back in September 2015, with the 10th round stoppage against McGregor believed to have earned him around an eye-watering $100m, whilst an untelevised exhibition against kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa was worth an estimated $9m.
The announcement comes on the back of Mike Tyson’s return to the ring. The former heavyweight champion went toe-to-toe with Roy Jones Jr in an exhibition bout, and despite the pre-fight rules stating that there would no knockouts and no winner declared, over 1.6 million people tuned in for the Staples Center-based event, which scooped over $60m.
Logan’s brother Jake featured on the undercard of the fight, knocking out former NBA player Nate Robinson in the second round. The ex-Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks point guard was left needing medical assistance in the ring after being knocked down three times by the YouTuber.
These sorts of fights are never short of criticism from professionals and pundits alike, and UFC President Dana White has already spoken out against the bout between Mayweather and Paul, claiming that it is further proof of the state of boxing.
“When people ask me what’s the state of boxing right now, that’s where it’s at,” White said.
“Didn’t that kid get beat up by the f*****g video game kid from England and now he’s going to fight Floyd Mayweather?”
The 51-year-old MMA mogul has a point, in the professional fight game, someone with a record of 0-1 wouldn’t be handed a bout against the likes of Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury.
Whilst there is clearly a market for this sort of bout, with millions tuning in to watch each of KSI and Paul’s bouts, earning the pair around $1m each, it is quite insulting to the professionals who have put their lives into endless training and fighting to earn a living, and it’s fair to say that old professionals and YouTubers fighting is tarnishing the reputation of the sport.
Some would argue that these events are good for the sport of boxing, as they are attracting the younger generation, but, if you’ve seen the standards on show in some of these fights, how could you possibly take it seriously?