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Mayweather vs Logan Paul: Fanmio’s Solomon Engel wants to grow boxing’s base, not hurt the sport with February PPV

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Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition with Logan Paul is coming in February, and Fanmio’s Solomon Engel says the event is intended to help boxing, not hurt it.

Size matters, some will argue, while others will insist that size is overrated as a trait when it comes to assessing strengths and deficiencies of the Feb. 24 exhibition fight between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul.

Mayweather will be significantly smaller than Paul, who — like Floyd — has savvily crafted his public persona in becoming a high-profile celebrity.

No tears of fear, please, for “Lil’” Floyd, who stands 5’8” and walks around in the high 150s, because he’ll look up to the 6’2” Paul on fight night. Anyone that has a rudimentary understanding of pugilism comprehends that were Mayweather matched with an in-his-prime Andre the Giant, Floyd’s educated hands would render Roussimoff’s 300-pound weight advantage worse than useless.

But this exhibition tango, being put together by Fanmio, will see Floyd clashing with someone who throws hands and has better stamina than Roussimoff.

As we tick down to the faceoff, the word “but” will be a ubiquitous presence in the buildup, which is part of a trend that started in 2019 and got a kickstart in 2020, with the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr promotion.

Floyd is a master craftsman against an apprentice-level practitioner, but...

But ya never know, because stranger things have happened every day of 2020 than 25-year-old Logan Paul catching a cocky, 43-year-old Mayweather, old enough to be his pop, with something he didn’t see, and thought he could slip at the last second.

The Fanmio Connection

Fanmio is the baby of 38-year-old Solomon Engel, who was born in Bensonhurst and grew up in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. Engel has been in Florida since 2004, living life as an entrepreneur in tech commerce. Several businesses and big ideas in, he now has Fanmio, which does “meet and greets” with celebrities, sort of a step up in the interaction that the Cameo service offers.

Engel told me he got to know Mayweather earlier in 2020, and as their rapport grew, so did their conception of possibilities for mutual enrichment.

“We started talking together about working together on a fight. And I got to know Logan from meet and greets,” Engel said. “I came to understand Logan had it in him to fight Floyd, so I took it to Floyd, and we had a lot of back-and-forth. It wasn’t an overnight thing.”

He said the format of November’s Tyson-Jones extravaganza won’t be the Fanmio blueprint. Engel told me that he thinks Fanmio users are almost in a movie when they do a session, and without specifying, it seems like he’s feeling like the Fanmio boxing experience will leave watchers quite satisfied with the time spent.

“We’ve built large, scaleable platforms, so we’re well-positioned to succeed in ticketing, streaming et al,” he stated.

“I saw the Tyson fight, it’s going to be quite different,” Engel continued. “We’re creating an event that will look almost like the Super Bowl of boxing. It will be a very highly produced event, and we’re going to bring a lot of entertainment into the sport. But it will be a different approach than what Triller did with Tyson. I am a boxing fan, I’ve always watched boxing, and I’ve done a lot of martial arts, but I didn’t do this because I’m a fan, I did it because it’s a business opportunity.”

The respect level for Floyd is still high in the boxing world. Most analysts presume that at this mildly advanced age, Mayweather’s sublime skills are still present to the degree that he’s got enough of the pound for pound skill set to beat or provide a stringent test to today’s top dogs at 147-154. That doesn’t describe Logan Paul, who showed us his skill set when he faced off with another social media player, KSI, on a Matchroom show in Nov. 2019.

Aggressiveness, determination, strength, those were some of the pluses I saw in Paul, who only took up the craft in 2018 to do an amateur bout with the aforementioned KSI, their first in-ring meeting.

Who started this?

KSI VS. Logan Paul 2 Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

“YouTube boxing” planted roots in 2018, when KSI battled fellow Brit video blogger Joe Weller. The event in Manchester, England, did 1.6 million live views on YouTube, and amassed 21 million views in about a day. Obviously there was an audience for this sort of thing, so Logan Paul agreed to fight KSI three weeks later, and ramped up the boxing education. Manchester hosted their bout, too, and both were amateur boxing affairs, not licensed pro bouts.

Buzz was considerable — some 63 million views of promo videos were notched on the KSI and Logan Paul YouTube channels. About 1.3 million YouTube pay-per-view buys were tallied to see the video bloggers rumble. The result was a majority draw, and more plans to keep mining this patch of gold.

Promoter Eddie Hearn got pitched on having DAZN be the platform for a Logan Paul rematch against KSI, and he bit. At Staples Center, asses filled seats, despite plenty of purists wailing that the sky was falling and the sacred sport had fallen too far into disrepute, because the California commission licensed the rematch as a pro bout.

After six rounds of three minutes apiece — which impressed me, for the fire on display if not technique — KSI had his hand raised via controversial split decision.

Logan would have gotten back on the horse, but the COVID pandemic shut everything down for much of 2020. Hearn worked on making a fight between Paul and NFL star Antonio Brown, as they’d had a beef simmering on social media. That didn’t pan out, but Logan kept on with the fighting. UFC fighter Paulo Costa dropped Logan during a taped sparring session and it looked like Paul’s synapses were legit scrambled in early March.

Logan and his brother Jake, who we last saw dropping and stopping former NBA player Nate Robinson on the Tyson-Jones undercard Nov. 28, are blessed with coordination, a certain fearlessness in embracing tasks out of their comfort zone, and a more than healthy ego. Also, they are blessed with a legion of followers, many who adore them, plenty who loathe them, but all of whom stay tuned in to their hijinks.

As of Dec. 28, Logan has 22.7 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and he has 18.8 million followers on Instagram. That doesn’t beat Mayweather’s 24.4 million. Added up — well, you get the point, and hopefully better understand a trend that isn’t stopping anytime soon. Boxing is a narrow niche, and one that hasn’t been growing despite a lot of money coming into the sport. HBO got out while the going was getting worse in 2018, and their heads decided it was a smarter play to allocate money budgeted for this combat sport into entertainment that might get a look from more of the masses.

The number of hardcore boxing fans in the United States is a tragically small number, so the ceiling for the sport is not exciting to folks who want to be competing with Netflix. But the ceiling can be lifted when more people consider tuning in, people who otherwise would not because they don’t give half a flying fuck about Terence Crawford or whoever you think is the best pound-for-pound boxer now active. Netflix has something like 200 million paying subscribers. More people who subscribe to Netflix know who Logan Paul is than know who Terence Crawford is,

Can Logan Paul hang with Floyd Mayweather?

I put it to Fanmio founder Solomon Engel, is Logan Paul going to be able to hang with Mayweather, make a fight of it, make it worth the while of anyone who will buy the pay-per-view?

“This is a real fight for both of them, it’s possible there will be a KO, and I think we can expect whatever is expected in a traditional boxing match,” Engel told Bad Left Hook. “Logan is very, very determined, and he’s a lot bigger than Floyd. Of course, Floyd is extremely skilled. And I do think the size difference between them makes this very interesting.

“Does Logan Paul have a chance to beat Floyd? Right now, and things can change, but right now there are no plans to have Logan lose weight. His size will be whatever it is! And the fact that it’s an exhibition will not impact at all on how they fight!”

And what might that differential be? 30 pounds? I think that’s a reasonable guesstimate.

I’m inclined to believe that unless Paul is allowed to enter the ring with 15 extra pounds of flak jacket, to protect the ribs that Floyd would be strafing, this size disparity won’t be enough to make me wager more than a buck on the influencer. But that doesn’t mean I’m closed off or hostile to this concept, as long as expectations are kept reasonable.

“I believe it’s very healthy for the sport of boxing,” Engel said. “At the end of day, like any sport, anyone is welcome to play the sport if they choose to. Logan has a very different audience than Floyd. Bringing these two together, bringing their audiences together, makes for greater opportunities for everyone.”

Fight Night in Daytona Beach Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

And he’s telling us that this isn’t going to be a one-and-done thing, so it is feasible that there could be a growth opportunity for the sport as whole.

“We have introduced Fanmio boxing, it’s a full fledged boxing promotion company. We’ll have fights beyond Floyd vs Logan that will be extremely competitive and exciting. I definitely think the fans are going to be pretty excited.”

Any hints as to who else might be involved?

“That’s to be determined, but some really exciting pro fighters are in the mix, big names are being passed around,” he said.

I asked if Floyd Mayweather’s recent trip to England, where he watched Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 8, might have been a hint at all.

“I can’t speak for the future, I can’t comment on it,” Engel said. “We’re looking to create an exciting opportunity for fans, and add to that this being very lucrative, uniquely lucrative for the fighters.”

“Uniquely lucrative.” And it will stand out for boxers reading this piece, and managers, and promoters and platform helmers already in the space, too.

“The way we’ll handle it is, making sure the fighters are getting paid, making money with us far beyond what they get from other means.”

“Far beyond,” eh?

So, that talk is creating involuntary salivation in many mouths round the world. But we regular Joes, the fans, our primary desire is to to see great fights. What the competitors make can be decent fodder for chatter, but ultimately it doesn’t impact us. Or, I should say, doesn’t too much affect our bank accounts. In fact, an argument can be made that a negative trickle down effect occurs, what with how boxing’s economy is set up. Boxers at the top-most tiers are asking for and commanding ultra premium purses. But if the only way to meet that ask is by asking fans to reach deeper into their pocket, during the pandemic era which is savaging employment rates and reducing discretionary income stashes, then friction is created, and that is an impediment to big-picture growth of the sport.

I didn’t feel much pain when I purchased the Floyd-Logan Paul event on Dec. 28, before the price kicked up, which it will after 1 million buys are in the system. $25 is an OK price for a PPV, at least to me.

Engel sounds optimistic that the Fanmio plan to enter the space and blow up the place, in a good way, will leave fight fans pleased.

“I do think the plan here will definitely enhance the sport, grow the fan base much bigger than it is currently,” Engel continued. “This is a much more unconventional approach, and it’s not meant to hurt the sport, it’s meant to grow and expand boxing.

“If you go online and play Xbox, and play against a pro, the pro will beat you every time because you’re an amateur,” Engel said.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the occasion, he believes.

“We’re not harming the sport, we’re growing it, bringing a different competitive side to it, and making the sport more interesting. The sport has been diminished some. The entertainment side has been lacking some, even though we’ve seen very skilled fighters in boxing. But most of them didn’t and don’t bring a level of entertainment that drives growth, brings in and enlargens the consumer base.”

Weak PPV numbers from some of those events aside from the Tyson one solidifies his thesis, he says. More entertainment value, to go with the athletics portion, can only help bring more eyeballs to the fistic arena. “The sport has lacked that for a long time.”

Not going to pull this punch, I think too highly of Mayweather’s skill set, and don’t think that size can make up for the fact that Mayweather has eat, slept, and breathed boxing since he was in diapers.

I told Engel I back Floyd with every fiber of my being; and I asked him who he thinks get their hand raised.

“We both know defensively Floyd is the best boxer ever, and Logan Paul is new to the sport of boxing,” Engel said. “Logan is very determined to win, he’s training incredibly hard, he’s a lot bigger than Floyd. Floyd is incredibly skilled, he’s probably still the best fighter out there. Logan has skill, too, but he also has size. Logan being bigger makes this interesting. Size can play a role in a fight!”

Engel has a dog in this hunt, so what say we end with the last word from someone who doesn’t?

Mike Tyson on Logan Paul’s podcast “Impaulsive,” was asked about a Logan vs Floyd Mayweather bout.

“Floyd is gonna beat his fuckin’ ass,” Mike Tyson said, while Logan listened, and howled in laughter, which maybe hid a miniature cold sweat of nerves.

“But it’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be good, he’s gonna fight back, though. He’s gonna fight back!”