Why was the KSI vs Logan Paul fight so big?

In the early hours of the 10th November, in the famous Staples Center, the KSI vs Logan Paul saga seemingly concluded. Whether you treated it like Christmas or a circus act, the scale was undeniably ground-breaking.

The first fight famously became the largest white collar boxing event in history, when a packed out Manchester Arena and 1.05 million people purchasing the pay-per-view, (including an estimated extra 1.2 million illegal streamers), tuned in to watch two content creators unskilfully swat at their trans-Atlantic enemy in a headguard. The fight ended in a draw and thus, a rematch seemed written in the stars.       

To understand the scale of this fight, we’d have to asses the sheer size of these YouTubing titans.

KSI was once every young boy’s favourite FIFA playing, slur screaming and controller throwing video maker. He was a figure that his audience watched grow from a self-admitted nerd into a giant. He is arguably the most influential figure in terms of growing fellow UK YouTubers and pioneering the way for young guys and girls everywhere that aspire to make you uncomfortable through the medium of rap. He now stands at 20 million subscribers and counting and an additional 12 million followers on Twitter and Instagram combined.      

Logan Paul on the other hand had a much shorter and more streamlined rise to stardom. From being the tall goofy American that made Vines with his brother, he transitioned to YouTube and saw his vlogs cannon himself to the top of the platform at record breaking pace. Logan appeals to a very different audience than his counterpart, as he has always been seen as the prototypical “jock”.

Whilst his social media following is remarkably similar to KSI in terms of numbers, the thing that separates him is his brand. The “Maverick” clothing line is such a huge merchandising company that it had people labelling Logan as social media’s first potential billionaire at one point. However, the well documented Japanese forest controversy deservedly stifled this trajectory.

The second fight therefore saw two of the biggest social media stars the internet has ever seen, with very opposing audiences and similar physical capabilities, wanting to fight. And not just the laughable facsimile seen a year earlier in Manchester, they wanted to knock each other out.                                                                                    

The ever opportunistic and infamous Eddie Hearn, who was once an open critic of this event, jumped at the opportunity to turn this fight professional, remove the headguards and create something the boxing world had never seen before. The rematch was officially the real deal, being broadcasted by SKY and the up and coming DAZN. It included an undercard any event would be proud of with the brilliant Billy Joe Saunders and rising star Devin Haney. Boxing fans however saw this as a mockery that novice fighters were allowed the luxury of professionalism and a main event above such world class talents.

The media tours were also a very interesting and potentially concerning twist on the style the sport is used to. Childish insults and fights between coaches didn’t help the circus like reputation in the eyes of the boxing faithful, even Eddie Hearn was seen to get irate on occasions. Nevertheless, the fight came around and was a success by all accounts, a closely fought match by two genuine athletes that ended in a win for KSI by split decision definitely regained some credibility. However what comes next isn’t as clear.

KSI announced that after the fight he was finished with the Logan Paul saga whilst Logan Paul has still expressed interest in continuing his fighting “career”. Whilst this could be the end of these two in particular trying to replicate boxing, I doubt this is the last professionally done celebrity bouts we will see. Reality star/ boxer Tommy Fury has just recently challenged KSI to a fight and I’m sure many more will follow.

It is no secret boxing struggles with appealing to a wider audience and these kid friendly figures have urged that very thing in. It is particularly noteworthy that in America, to watch the fight, fans will now be subscribed to DAZN. They will be able to watch the upcoming Anthony Joshua fight, which in an attempt to continue their subscription, is no accident.

For this trend to continue is just a matter of circumstance. It requires maniacally driven figures with monumental followings in their physical primes and a genuine dislike for there opponent. So is it possible? Yes. Will it be Tommy Fury? Probably not.

By Harry Booth

Photo credit: KSI VS. LOGAN PAUL [OFFICIAL WEIGH IN via Wikipedia

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