On a night in which Mike Tyson returned to action for the first time in 15 years, it was a YouTube star that stole the show.
On Saturday, November 28, Jake Paul fought former NBA star Nate Robinson in the co-main event of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. It wasn’t a technical classic, not by a long shot. Jake had more experience than Nate, even if his last fight was against another YouTuber. Following a series of rabbit punches and Robinson going for what appeared to be a takedown, Paul smacked Robinson on the side of the head and knocked the former Slam Dunk Champion out cold.
Following the fight, Paul called out several individuals, from Conor McGregor to Dillon Danis. He had eyes rolling, but those same eyes couldn’t look away from him. In fact, there were over two million Google searches for Paul and Robinson the night of the fight. Athletes from all over are mentioning his and his brother’s name to discredit them, or challenge them to a fight.
In a sense, the Paul brothers may be the best thing for boxing.
When it all comes down to it, what they do and what they say, no matter how detracting it may be, does not matter in this situation. Boxing and combat sports, in general, have been home to some of the basest individuals out there. What do they bring to the table? Something that has always been boxing’s bread and butter, especially recently: fans and a profit.
It was during Super Bowl weekend earlier this year when Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn stated on The Main Event with Jake Asman and Cody Stoots that YouTube fights could be the future of boxing. If the sport is to grow, it needs to entertain, and what better way than to expand?
“The only way we can bring new people into the sport is to change it, to switch it up,” Hearn said. “One of the ways we do that is to bring in these big names with big followings who can bring that new audience.”
He brought up the fact that KSI vs. Logan Paul I, an amateur bout, generated 21,000 tickets for the Manchester Arena while generating about 1.3 million PPV buys worldwide. First dismissing the opportunity to promote it, he saw the results and supported it after. The rematch, which featured fighters like Billy Joe Saunders, Devin Haney, and Nikita Ababiy, had over 216,000 PPV buys in the UK and 12,000 fans in the Staples Center. Hearn would tell Sirius XM’s Fight Nation that the fight brought in more buys in the UK compared to the first Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight.
At the time of his first fight against AnEsonGib, Jake and AnEsonGib had over 22 million YouTube subscribers combined. Right now, Jake has over 20.3 subscribers all by himself. Those fans tuned into fight night to see Paul, but managed to stay for every other fight. Following his bout with Jones, Tyson praised the Paul brothers and what they bring to the sport.
“Listen, my ego says so many things, but my reality is they help boxing so much,” Tyson stated, via MMA Fighting. “Boxing owes these guys, they owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect. They should give them some belts because these guys make boxing alive.
“Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. UFC was kicking our butts, and now we got these YouTube boxers boxing with 25 million views. Boxing’s going back. Thanks to the YouTube boxers.”
The world was in awe when Floyd Mayweather faced Conor McGregor, two completely different fighters with the gift of gab. Unorthodox to some, the idea of it garnered interest. We are almost in the same situation when it comes to Jake and Logan Paul.
Boxing in itself has stars like Tyson Fury, Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, Ryan Garcia, Katie Taylor, Anthony Joshua, and more. The next few weeks will be huge for the sport. Marketing them, however, has been the sport’s biggest problem. We just watched someone who marketed himself for months on end and will continue to do so independently. How many additional eyes will be watching fights like Errol Spence Jr. vs. Danny Garcia, Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev, and Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith as a result of the efforts by Jake?
Flashy, occasionally arrogant, always entertaining. The Paul brothers bring something different to the table. Some may not like it, but they are creating opportunities for themselves in a way nobody has done before. Who knows what the future holds for them or other YouTube stars in boxing. For now, however, the sport might as well ride the wave.