Youtubers Step Foot in the World of Boxing

The Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. undercard proved that as long as they train like real fighters, there is a place for YouTube and social media personalities in the sport of boxing.

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By Nicholas Evangelinos

One does not simply decide to box professionally on a whim. The sport of boxing isn’t like soccer or basketball, where there is a relatively small chance of physical harm.

Three-time NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson learned this lesson the hard way on Saturday, November 28, on the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. undercard. Making his professional boxing debut against YouTube star turned professional boxer Jake Paul, Robinson showed his lack of experience as he leaned right into Jake’s punches, culminating in three total knockdowns. Besides the fact that Robinson should have never entered a boxing ring, the event proved that there is a place for social media personalities in the sport of boxing as long as they train like real fighters. “I’m taking this seriously,” Jake Paul said in the post-fight interview. With Jake Paul calling out big names such as Conor McGregor and Dillon Dannis, the future of boxing for Internet personalities looks bright. But before we take a closer look at what’s to come in the future, let's take a few steps back to February 3, 2018: the start of YouTube boxing.

The idea of two YouTubers facing off in a ring originated in England. Two of the biggest British YouTubers, KSI and Joe Weller, began an Internet feud that would be settled by an amateur boxing match in 2018. While the fight resulted in a technical knockout (TKO) victory for KSI, it was a major success for both parties due to the immense popularity boost they gained. The first-of-its-kind contest drew over 1.6 million live viewers and an additional 25 million over the next several days, becoming the biggest white-collar or amateur boxing fight in history—at least temporarily. After the fight, KSI challenged Logan Paul as his next opponent, and the pair faced off in the first of two eventual matches in August. Along the way, several other content creators hopped onto the trend, and YouTube boxing made its way into mainstream media.

Logan Paul’s first amateur boxing match against KSI took place on August 25, 2018. Despite not having previous experience with the sport, Logan Paul, Jake Paul’s older brother, trained almost every day with his team. The fight began in favor of Logan Paul, but KSI took control in the latter stages. Much to the disappointment of the fans, and despite the two fighters’ best efforts, the match ended in a majority draw. Consequently, a second bout between the two was set for November of 2019. This time, Logan Paul came better prepared and hoped to emerge victorious in the much anticipated match. However, at the end of the night, it was the Brit, not the American, who came out on top. Facing public humiliation, Logan Paul looked to heal from the fight and continue to improve his game. It was important for Logan Paul to face his first loss, as this experience allowed him to learn from his mistakes and become a better fighter. With his upcoming match against boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, Logan Paul has a slim but feasible chance to redeem himself.

Much like his brother, Jake Paul was among the few who popularized boxing in the YouTube bubble. He had no prior involvement with the sport, so he assembled a training team to prepare for matches. He began his amateur boxing career with a fight against YouTuber Deji on the co-main event of KSI and Logan Paul’s first fight. Jake Paul soon began to dominate the fight despite Deji’s heroic start, and he emerged victorious in a fifth-round TKO. Jake Paul eventually made his professional debut in the ring against yet another fellow YouTuber, AnEsonGib. Jake Paul demolished him easily, knocking him out in the first round while displaying his impressive boxing skills. This moment was crucial for Jake Paul, as it was when he began to gain recognition for his perseverance and talent.

It’s no secret that boxing’s popularity has declined in the past few years. The emergence of the UFC combined with the inability of boxing promoters to properly market fights were both major factors. As interest in boxing was subsiding, social media and online video platforms became an integral aspect of everyday life. According to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, it was these platforms that helped resurrect the dying sport. “Boxing owes these guys some kind of respect,” he said during the press conference following his exhibition bout. Other professional fighters such as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury agree, supporting the rising trend and highlighting the benefit it could bring to boxing in terms of growing the sport’s audience.

Looking ahead, the sport of boxing will only continue to expand onto other platforms. YouTube personalities such as the Paul brothers are taking the boxing world by storm and completely transforming the sport. “I'm not fighting to make money,” Jake explained to Insider's correspondent Alan Dawson in an interview. “I'm fighting because I want to and I love it.” Their involvement in the sport has led others to venture their own paths into boxing. Though you may not like some of the social media stars as people, you must admit that they are working tirelessly out of love for the sport. With Logan’s upcoming match against Mayweather, the older Paul brother might be able to break the barriers between boxing and YouTube.