The sport of Boxing is one that doesn’t not have a standard schedule or a “Season” if you will. For a sport that runs fifty-two weeks a year, there is certainly no shortage of events for the Boxing fan to view. While there are certain marquee attractions that take place throughout a calendar year featuring some of the best fighters in the sport squaring off against each other that generates the interest of not only the Boxing enthusiast, but also the casual observer, there are also times where curiosity alone is enough to draw interest.
One of those events will take place this weekend as YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul will make their respective professional debuts in an anticipated rematch in the main event of a professional Boxing card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The card, which will be broadcast in the United States and several international countries by digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN as well as on Sky Box Office Pay-Per-View throughout the United Kingdom has had no shortage of both interest and criticism from within the sport.
The criticism stems from the fact that two men will be headlining a professional Boxing card in the first professional fight for both. Although some have called this as nothing more than another “Celebrity Boxing” event, why has there been so much interest in this fight? First, it is not the first time these two men have met inside a Boxing ring.
In August of last year, the two YouTube stars met in an amateur bout that was broadcast on YouTube Pay-Per-View in Manchester, England. The fight, which ended in a six round majority draw, was fought with headgear. Although this did not differ much from what most think of when they think of “Celebrity Boxing” bouts, the card generated over 1.5 million buys between both live and on demand purchases. The strength of those numbers, a draw, and a continued animosity between each other has now led to the rematch.
Unlike the first encounter however, this fight will be fought under professional rules as both men agreed to formally turn professional, which mainly means there will be no protective headgear. While this has generated significant criticism, the question is will this be good and beneficial for Boxing? As a Boxing journalist and historian, the announcement of this rematch was something that stirred mixed feelings for this observer.
On one hand, it is understandable particularly among traditionalists as ti why this bout would rub people the wrong way. After all, it is not often one sees a professional fight featuring two fighters making their respective pro debuts as the main event of a Boxing card that features two world championship fights. The fight, which will be a six round Cruiserweight bout will also feature undefeated two-division world champion Billy Joe Saunders defending his WBO Super-Middleweight world championship against undefeated contender Marcelo Coceres and undefeated Lightweight contender Devin Haney facing Alfredo Santiago in a bout that will determine interim/regular champion status in the World Boxing Council (WBC) Lightweight ratings.
As understandable as the criticism of some regarding the KSI-Logan Paul rematch might be, it is important to remember on the other hand that both men have significant social media followings and YouTube subscribers. While this may not seem like something that should be considered a factor, it is of equal importance to point out that the sports world is experiencing a transition in how consumers choose to watch sports content thanks largely to the success of digital subscription networks DAZN and ESPN+.
Although staging this fight would appear to be a significant gamble both for DAZN and promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, staging a fight like this potentially allows not only DAZN, but the sport of Boxing to be seen by more eyes, particularly among those for whom have little to sporadic interest in the sport that all of the above believe will translate into expanding DAZN’s existing subscriber-base. There is also an obvious hope that by putting two world championship level fights to round out what appears to be a solidly matched undercard that the increased exposure for the sport will also translate into long-term subscribers as DAZN looks to continue expanding their broadcasting rights to cover the U.S. market.
If this indeed proves to be a win for DAZN, Hearn, and all the fighters that are competing on this card, it will be good for Boxing. It is indeed indisputable however, that a market does exist for “Celebrity Boxing” Although we don’t know whether this will be a one-off for both KSI and Logan Paul, or the beginning or another part of their respective careers outside of the realm of YouTube, my main concern here is that both men not only take the sport seriously, but also treat it with the respect it deserves. Boxing much like all of combat sports after all, is a dangerous sport and one that has suffered far too many black eyes, tragedies, and needs to be treated with the utmost respect by all those who enter the ring. It is not something to take lightly.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
KSI vs. Logan Paul II takes place on Saturday, November 9th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The fight as well as it’s full undercard can be seen in the United States and several international countries on digital sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT. (U.S. Times) For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the fight can be seen on Sky Sports Box Office Pay-Per-View for £9.95 beginning at Midnight (Local UK Time). For more information, availability in your area and to order please visit: https://www.sky.com/boxoffice/ksi-loganpaul.
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