It is the fight people are all talking about, whatever your feelings.
YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul will settle their long-running feud at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday having fought to a unanimous draw in Manchester in their first fight in August 2018. The difference this time is both men have been granted professional licenses, which means the head guards are off and the gloves are lighter.
It is a made-for-the-internet boxing spectacle that has polarized fighters, pundits and fans alike.
We here at Omnisport are no different and two of our experts discussed their views on the pay-per-view bout.
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There’s no such thing as bad publicity
No sport taps into the mantra of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” quite like boxing does. Whatever your take is on the merits of the “fight” between two YouTube stars, there is no way for boxing to lose here.
Indeed, it can only really win.
Their first bout, which was fought under amateur rules, was witnessed by nearly 60 million people. It’s a huge new demographic to tap into, a potential new swathe of fans to reach out to and draw in the money — which rules everything in boxing.
I can accept why some are calling it a circus, and even why others see it as an insult to those who work hard to build their reputation as fighters, those who have honed their craft and earned their coin in combat sports. But fighting on this card opens up a world of possibilities to new fans, new opportunities and offers a chance to campaign on pay-per-view television that may not have been otherwise forthcoming.
Call it a money spinner, call it a publicity stunt, even call it an insult if you want. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter — the attention it has garnered means this fight is good for boxing.
— Peter Hanson
Eddie Hearn has made sure the undercard to KSI vs. Logan Paul boasts some star names. Two-weight world champions Billy Joe Saunders and undefeated lightweight star Devin Haney are both in action. It is a pitch to give the event a shred of respectability among a largely outraged boxing hardcore fan base. But Saunders and Haney’s expected victories will be of little significance to their wider, impressive careers. If Hearn needs a celebrity punch-up to promote boxers of their calibre, he’s not doing his job properly.
A stable of Matchroom fighters that now features Gennady Golovkin and Oleksandr Usyk alongside Anthony Joshua suggests Hearn is doing just fine in that regard. His situation, and the sport in general, is in a period of good health, in terms of attendances and huge broadcast deals. If any newcomers who tune into Saturday’s championship action become hooked, great, but number and impact upon the overall landscape will be negligible.
Yes, this is an embarrassing spectacle, but boxing by its very nature attracts plenty of those and has survived them before. Muhammad Ali once spent an exhibition bout against Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki getting kicked in the calves by an opponent who spent most of the contest — so far as it was one — on his back. “The Greatest” and everyone involved looked entirely stupid, but it made enough money for enough people to make sense.
That mantra explains why KSI vs. Logan Paul is happening. Accept it and move on. At a time when failed drugs tests amount to a growing cancer on the sport, plus the deaths of Patrick Day and Maxim Dadashev following their exertions in the ring, boxing has much bigger things to worry about than two self-publicizing individuals trying to hit each other.
— Dom Farrell
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