Four key questions ahead of Jake Paul’s fight with Tommy Fury
The world of boxing and YouTube will again collide on Sunday when Tommy Fury and Jake Paul do battle in a cruiserweight contest for a WBC ranking at Diriyah Arena.
Plenty will be on the line for both in Saudi Arabia with Fury defending his family name and future career while Paul will be eager to take a big step into becoming a legitimate professional boxer.
Several YouTubers have donned boxing gloves over recent years and here, we take a look at the growing trend.
KSI the catalyst?
British YouTuber KSI got the ball rolling when he knocked out fellow social media star Joe Weller at Copper Box Arena in 2018 in what was effectively white-collar boxing with headgear worn, but it caught the imagination and six months later an even bigger bout occurred. Manchester Arena hosted KSI’s amateur boxing fight against American YouTuber Logan Paul on 25 August 2018 with their brothers Deji Olatunji and Jake Paul also squaring off on the undercard. Press conferences took place in Los Angeles and London after tickets, which ranged from £30 to £495, were snapped up. A total of £1.3m pay-per-view buys worldwide were generated on YouTube in addition to 80,000 live purchases on other websites to make it the largest non-professional boxing match of all time.
When did promoters jump on the bandwagon?
Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn promoted the rematch between KSI and Logan Paul at Staples Center on 9 November 2019 but this time it was a professional fight with no headgear and while Covid saw the world ground to a halt months later, YouTubers boxing did not lose its momentum. Jake Paul founded Most Valuable Promotions in 2021 and snapped up Amanda Serrano while KSI teamed up with sports agency Wasserman Promotions to launch Misfits Boxing.
What would victory for Paul mean?
While KSI started to focus on promoting exhibition boxing under his Misfits company and fighting in crossover events, Jake Paul has been involved in a number of professional fights and put himself on the verge of breaking through as the first YouTuber-turned-boxer. Victory over Tommy Fury, the younger brother of Tyson Fury, in a cruiserweight bout would controversially earn him a WBC ranking. It is a fight that has generated a lot of criticism but also huge interest.
Good or bad for boxing?
Influencers turning their hand to boxing has brought the sport to a new and younger audience. The worry is the damage that could occur if more social media stars step into the ring with professionals. Bookmakers are backing Jake Paul to beat Tommy Fury but Paul would likely be the exception to the rule given how hard he has worked to reach this point and his dedication in recent years. Exhibitions have worked alongside boxing hand-in-hand for years and regardless of this weekend’s result, it feels that is the way it should stay with YouTubers fighting in amateur bouts and professional ranks remaining exactly that – for professionals only.