From Page To Stage: YouTube’s Boxing History

The Rise of YouTuber Boxing

In the last 3 years YouTuber boxers have:-

  1. Sold out a fight in the Manchester arena pic
  2. Raked In $75M in one fight in Pay Per View’s pic
  3. Set up an exhibition bout with perhaps the greatest boxer of all time. pic

Here’s a short history lesson about the rise of YouTuber boxing.

Round 1

It all began in Aug 3rd 2017, when Joe Weller and Theo Baker, two English YouTubers decided to box each other for a YouTube video. Fellow YouTube star, The True Geordie provided the commentary. Despite it being a simple amateur boxing match, it racked up several million views.

Weller decided to capitalize on this popularity. He called out fellow British YouTuber KSI for an exhibition. KSI accepted. The fight attracted a crowd of 7,500 people to the Copper Box Arena in London in February 2018. KSI won the fight via technical knockout in the third round.

1.6 million people watched the fight Live.

It’s garnered 21million views on YouTube to date. In the in-ring, post-fight interview KSI challenged either of the Paul brothers to a boxing match.

YouTuber boxing was about to take off.

USA vs UK

Logan Paul accepted the challenge on 25th Feb, 2018. With 20M subscribers apiece(at the time), and a natural UK vs US competition, the fighters were ready to kick off what would become a famous and bitter rivalry. Following several months of diss tracks and heated press conferences, the fighters came to a head-on 25th Aug, 2018 in Manchester Arena, England.

After 6 rounds of 3 minutes each, the fight ended in a draw. But both fighters won big. The fight generated an estimated live gate revenue of $3.5M and 1.3M PPV buys including 800,000 Live views.

To get a real conclusion, both fighters agreed to a rematch-which was held more than year later in Nov, 2019. This time, everything was bigger and more professional. It was held in Staples Centre, LA-with no headgear. Both fighters had been trained by professionals-Shannon Briggs, 2 time heavyweight champion had trained Paul, and Jeff Mayweather, uncle of Floyd Mayweather had trained KSI.

6 closely contested rounds later, KSI would be announced the winner. The fight was attended by a slew of celebs like Justin Beiber, Wiz Khalia, Post Malone, Dan Bilzerian and Mike Tyson. It was the third most-streamed fight of 2019 with both fighters earning a fight purse of 900k from their pro debut. This is not counting a share of the PPV buys. For comparison, most pro boxers make 50k annually.

The Era of the “Other” Paul Brother

To avenge his brother’s loss, Jake Paul called out KSI.

KSI replied saying he would get in the ring with Jr Paul if he could beat fellow YouTuber, AnEsonGib. Both YouTubers had been on the undercards of the Logan Vs KSI 1 fight, with Jake beating Deji(KSI’s brother) and AnEsonGib beating Jay Swingler.

The fight lasted just 2 minutes 18 seconds, with Jake winning by TKO. Jake called out KSI in the post fight press conference once again, with former accusing the latter of ducking him. Eventually, KSI tweets that because of Covid-19 he was unable to train and hence couldn’t proceed with the fight.

A few months later, in May 2020, Nate Robinson, ex NBA star called out Jake, who accepted. On November 28th they collided, as the undercard on the Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones fight. Jake won by knockout in the second round.

But his proceed from the fight was probably more satisfying. He has said that he made 8 figures($10M) from the fight.

YouTuber boxing goes mainstream

Capitalizing on this victory, Jake immediately called out Conor Mcgregor. When that didn’t work out, he went after Dillon Danis, one of Mcgregor’s sparring partners. When even Dillon did not take the fight, Ben Askren, stepped up. Askren, a former Bellator Champion and ex-UFC fighter with a 19-2 would be the first trained fighter that Jake would fight.

With Askren famously being a terrible striker, Jake ended the fight with a right hand in under 2 minutes. Embarrassing as it was for Askren, it was also his biggest payday, making him a cool $500k. Askren also said that the payday was bigger than all of his 9 Bellator fights combined.

Jake Paul claims that the fight with Askren did 1.5million PPV buys on Triller and generated $75million. If those numbers are right, it comes in just behind Conor Mcgregor’s top 2 PPV numbers.

But what do actual fighters have to say about this trend?

Good for boxing?

Greats like Daniel Cormier and Clarissa Shields have openly criticized this new culture. However Mike Tyson, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time is a vocal supporter. According to him, boxers owes these YouTubers because,”..boxing was pretty much a dying sport but now its making a comeback thanks to these YouTubers.”

Next up in the YouTuber boxing crossover world is the Logan Paul and Floyd Mayweather bout, scheduled on June 6th. Floyd has a famous 50-0 record. Logan has 0-1 record.

Is it fair that a YouTuber with one match and one loss gets to face the greatest boxer of his generation? Who knows? Is it entertaining? Hell, yes.

What’s new in Social Media boxing?

After the Paul-Mayweather fight in which each fighter made upwards of 10’s of millions from brand sponsorships alone, there was one more cross-over fight of note.

Jake Paul Vs. Tyrone Woodley was a fight where several people wrote off the YouTube superstar. Woodley being an MMA superstar and former UFC Welterweight champion, most expected Jake to finally give up his unbeaten record.

But after 8 rounds of middling action, where Jake was rocked once by the MMA legend, the YouTuber won by points. The victory solidified his claim to being an actual boxer-after years of being called a ‘YouTube boxer’.

Jake plans to go head to head with Tommy Fury, Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury’s half-brother.

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