Thursday November 30, 2023

Have Influencers and Celebrities Saved Boxing?

Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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Say what you want about influencers-turned-boxers, one of the greatest fighters ever is a fan.

“Jake Paul and his brother, they are God-gifted YouTube boxers. Boxing should give them a belt, because these guys brought boxing back to life,” said Mike Tyson.

In November, Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson in the undercard for Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.’s comeback bout. The event sold over 1.6 million pay-per-views and generated more than $80 million in revenue.

Less than a week later, Triller and Snoop Dogg, whose commentary on the Jake Paul and Tyson fights was well received, launched a boxing league called “The Fight Club.”

Several others are capitalizing on the trend:

  • Jose Canseco made $1 million for his bout with a Barstool Sports intern on Friday night. The disgraced ex-MLB star fell to canvas 12 seconds into the $20 PPV match, but received a share of the revenue.
  • In April, Jake Paul will fight retired UFC star Ben Askren.
  • In June, Celebrity Boxing will host a fight between retired NBA champion Lamar Odom and singer Aaron Carter.
  • Logan Paul, Jake’s older brother, is set to fight Floyd Mayweather in an upcoming exhibition match.  

Mayweather is also interested in fighting his friend-turned-nemesis 50 Cent, and said he’ll take on Jake if he beats Askren.

One can’t deny the allure of legends like Tyson and Mayweather, nor the vast social followings of the Paul brothers, but there’s been a surprising embrace of boxing events involving YouTubers and retired athletes that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.

“My ego said so many things, but my reality is: they help boxing so much,” Tyson said. “They owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect.”

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