DAZN rolled the dice, left themselves open to mockery and harsh criticsim, but it is looking like fate smiled upon the OTT platform.
Reviews official and otherwise came in, and mostly, folks seem to have been pleased, to one degree or another, after watching the professional boxing debuts of YouTube attractions Logan Paul and KSI.
The social media sensations, who have attained a level of celebrity not reachable in this manner 10 years ago, leveraged their stats to get twin $900,000 paydays for their rematch scrap at Staples Center in Los Angeles. DAZN showed this faceoff as their main event, meaning their potential future superstar Devin Haney battled on the undercard, to support the chief attractant.
Here are the top takeaways from the six-round cruiserweight clash, which went the distance and saw the Brit KSI get the nod, with two of three judges deciding he did better.
This is boxing, so of course, you had controversy. In round four, a nasty uppercut hurt the Brit, but then Paul tried to finish him, and he used his arm to push down KSI’s neck, while throwing follow ups. Ref Jack Reiss wasn’t having it. He took not one, but two points from Paul, and that proved to be the difference maker when the cards were tallied. After, Paul said he’d be going to the Cali commission to lodge an official protest. Sucks for him, for it helps prolong the buzz for a third scrap. This is one thing we do well: theater.
REVIEWS ARE IN
Look around, and reviews from the punters are mostly kind. Expectations were low in many pockets, so that helps. Because no, these are not two seasoned pros blowing you away with their form. But, in fact, strangely, that doesn’t necessarily hurt them, in regards to how their fight is perceived.
Brilliance in execution is often lost on the audience, which is wired to prefer drama and back-and-forth action rather than one-sided superiority, stemming from a superiority of technique.
Yeah, it was sloppy at times. But they were both fired up, passionate, you got the sense they weren’t there to pick up a paycheck. Both wanted to whoop the other, and that is always a plus for someone taking their time to watch a bout. And, frankly, that vibe is too often missing in the high-level contests we are treated to. Yeah, there are things to be learned from this promotion, that is the ideal mindset as we sit and look back. Don’t diss and dismiss, understand why parts of this deal worked. They got a crowd number comparable to what Canelo vs Kovalev did the week before in Las Vegas. And those size crowds are more rare than you’d think in the boxing realm.
PUMP THEM BRAKES
Now, the other side. We saw upsides. Good crowd response, good deal of trending on social media. But if the idea was to get subscribers latching on to DAZN, only Skipper and Joey Hairs know the truth on that issue.
How many people susribed to the platform? How many will stay subscribed? If they subscribed, and then DAZN doesn’t see them again, was the rate to convert to their liking? Almost two million bucks was spent on the YouTubers — and Devin Haney got overpaid, he got a million to fight a showcase scrap. Outside looking in, how sustainable is that payout rate to the athletes? Only Len Blavatnik and a select crew could answer that. So time will tell how successful this play was.
POST-FIGHT DONE RIGHT
Maybe the best moment, from a seeking drama standpoint, came when Radio Rahim interviewed the winner and the loser in the ring after the six round scrap finished.
Is the beef squashed, do you respect each other as men, as warriors?
KSI paused...and stayed paused. He looked at Paul, who awaited the response.
“Alright,” the Brit said. And they hugged, and everyone clapped and felt warm inside. “We gotta have some respect. It takes a big man to get in the ring, and you’re abig man. Hey yo, thank you for a good fight, bro.”
“Thank you, brother,” Paul said, as they exuded in mutual respect. “Fair play to JJ, one of the toughest people I know. You had my respect before this match. I don’t like to be a dick to you. You’re one of the toughest people I know, respect,” he told KSI.
WHEN IS THE TRILOGY BOUT?
KSI said he wanted to move on, do other things. “It’s done for me. I’m on the to the next. You should fight CM Punk,” KSI told Paul. But my guess is they fight again. This thing wasn’t fully settled. The knockdown that KSI scored that wasn’t counted in round three, should it have been counted? The double point deduction, a total rarity in this sport, why did Reiss choose that route, despite the fact that we’d not seen him warn Paul prior to the punishment?
“My emotions got the best of me,” Paul declared. “No warning, I got two points taken away from me, that’s why I lost. If you do the math, that’s I why I lost. I want to contest the commission. I should’ve only got a warning.”
Mark it down. KSI vs Logan Paul 3, summer 2020. It makes sense, because it made money.
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