YouTube fellow KSI beat fellow YouTube fellow Logan Paul last night in a novice boxing match in Los Angeles. The split decision — and the way we got there — was pretty controversial, despite what some of KSI’s fans who don’t really know what “controversial” means might tell you on Twitter. But he got the W, and in the moment, it seemed as if that’s all that mattered to him.
After a corny MOMENT OF RESPECT between KSI and Paul that was only separated from a John Cena bit because KSI and Paul didn’t dramatically look around at the crowd first as if to say, “What a moment, am I right, people,” KSI indicated that he doesn’t have any interest in fighting Logan Paul a third time, despite the arguments over the outcome quickly arose.
So that would seem to be it. KSI, due respect to him, is not going to be a professional boxer of any significance. Nor will Logan Paul, for that matter, despite the declarations from Shannon Briggs and Tony Harrison.
I mean, come on.
Is that it?
Over 12,000 fans packed into Staples Center last night in LA, and they were basically all there to see KSI and Logan Paul. There was not a significant portion of that audience there to see Billy Joe Saunders and/or Devin Haney, despite the trouser-messing histrionics from certain people in and around boxing that THOSE GUYS should have been in the main event fight(s).
(As an aside, imagine putting KSI and Paul on third from the top, and essentially the entire audience vacating the building before Saunders and Haney can fight. Do you know how awful that would have looked? How embarrassing it would have been? The only argument you can make is Haney and Saunders shouldn’t even have been there, not that they should’ve gone after the guys who sold the tickets. And for what it’s worth, Haney and Saunders haven’t expressed any displeasure with their place on the stage, at least not that I’ve seen.)
So we know KSI and Logan Paul can sell tickets to a major venue. That’s pretty meaningful in boxing today, honestly. There aren’t a lot of boxers out there who can put 12K into Staples Center, even with reasonable ticket prices.
If the fight did well on DAZN — that is, if it drove subscriptions — the offer for KSI vs Logan Paul 3 is going to come. Whether KSI takes it or not is the question in that case. Paul sounded like he definitely wants to do it. He also said he’ll lobby the commission for a ruling that could in theory wind up changing this decision to a split draw. Whether he lost or got a draw, he’d still probably want to go again. A reversal of the outcome could make KSI more open to going back, too.
There’s also just the money — again, if this did well on DAZN, the people there will want another one. And if not KSI vs Logan Paul, maybe KSI vs Jake Paul, Logan’s brother who stopped KSI’s brother Deji in an amateur fight in Aug. 2018. We know Jake wants to do it, as he said with a replica belt on his shoulder before last night’s fight.
There’s also Josh Brueckner, a lesser YouTube celebrity who fought last night and then got engaged in the ring after his win.
The point is, if the show was a streaming success, there will be offers to KSI, to Logan Paul, to Jake Paul, to all kinds of people most boxing fans are too old to possibly care about, including me. Eddie Hearn has even hinted that there may be bigger, more mainstream stars interested in gloving up, though there’s every chance that’s just Big Ed tooting a horn that doesn’t really exist.
Another question, however: even if this fight did well, how long can the momentum last?
Novelty stuff like this generally has a short shelf life. You can do it a few times at most before the intrigue behind it all fizzles out — in particular, before even the most diehard, open wallet fans of these people realize that no matter the talk, these dudes can’t really fight at a level that is going to lead to big, sensational knockouts or anything. The “magic,” such as it were, is just not going to last that long.
That also means everyone involved or potentially involved will be itching to get in, get the money, and get out before it all dries up — you know, the time-tested strategy for circuses and carnivals.
Unless this truly tanked on DAZN, we’re almost surely going to see KSI vs Logan Paul 3, or KSI vs Jake Paul, or something of this nature again. These guys aren’t demanding crazy enormous purses and you don’t have to spend much on an undercard, because the undercard doesn’t matter at all. In that sense, these are cost-effective shows to put on.
We might all have to just hold our noses and deal with it, at least for a little while. These fights may not actually “grow the sport of boxing” because the children who care are not suddenly, in large numbers, going to care about the “real” boxing, but they also may be a meaningful lifeline for DAZN in these still-early days for the OTT service. If these fights can bump the subscriber numbers even just now and again, that matters.
If we keep going on, maybe just think of it as the YouTube folks coming in and, in their way, helping to keep the rest of DAZN’s boxing schedule alive and kicking.