The following is an attempt to get you to watch a six-round fight between YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul. If you are already leaning that way and in need of being steered back to logic, read this one instead.
1. It’s transparently bad
In recent years there have been many examples of pay-per-view fights sold as something they’re not. We’ve seen fights between men we’re told have been brought together by hate but are secretly giggling together on FaceTime at everyone’s expense. We’ve paid to watch fighters we’re told are fit – really fit, fitter than ever, in the best shape of their life – but are fit only for cashing a cheque. We’ve also been duped by fighters we’re told are big and strong and ready to rumble but are in fact aided by performance-enhancing drugs. Some were caught ahead of time. Others got away with it.
Alas, because boxing has no right to a moral high ground, the transparency of a fight between YouTubers on Saturday night (November 9) in Los Angeles seems somehow refreshing. Refreshing in the sense that at least here you know exactly what it is you are getting.
Expectations are low, so there is no chance of disappointment. We know it’s a fight between novices, neither of whom know how to box or have any history in the sport. We know they are popular, famous in the modern-day sense, and that their dislike for one another appears genuine. We also know it’s unlikely any drug-testing, stringent or otherwise, has been employed for the fight and that sport will take a backseat to entertainment on the night.
It’s a dreadful main event, sure, but boxing is littered with bad ones – between actual boxers – sold as something else. Here, we know ahead of time it will be awful. There will be no surprises. No charade. No disappointment.
2. It will look pretty
Combined, KSI, Logan Paul and Eddie Hearn have enough money to not need yours, enough to eradicate homelessness, and enough to ensure one hell of a show at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Saturday night.
What this fight lacks in substance it will no doubt make up for with style, flashing lights, ear-shattering trap music and explosions. A lesson in how to do a lot with a little, it will be a post-Jackie Brown Tarantino movie, only shorter, with duller fight scenes, and suitable for – targeted at – kids.
If you want to be a boxer, avoid it at all costs. If, however, you have designs on one day entering the world of promotion – either in boxing or some other similarly welcoming field – watch and learn.
After all, KSI and Logan Paul are clearly wonderful self-promoters (the size of their fan bases bear testament to this) and so too is Eddie Hearn, the fight’s actual promoter. In forming like Voltron, we can be sure they will put on quite the show – a sprucing up of a tired format, they will suggest – and produce a spectacle if nothing else. So appreciate the hype, the glitz and the build-up, for its something boxing these days seemingly needs to survive.
3. It will get boxing trending
No, it won’t necessarily bring a new audience to boxing, but what it will do is ensure boxing is the talk of social media – for a few hours at least. That, no matter how you cut it, can only be a good thing.
It could, because of its impact, even be viewed as a bit of a landmark event, indicative of what boxing has become and where it’s heading. A moment in time.
If it intrigues you on this level, watch it the way you watch 24/7 news channels the day a terrorist attack or natural disaster happens. Though reluctant, watch it because something noteworthy seems to be taking place and because, despite the horror, and your principles, it’s hard to look away.
4. It could be better than Billy Joe Saunders’ fight
Better might be the wrong word, but KSI vs. Logan Paul clearly works on more levels than an atrocious WBO super-middleweight title fight on the undercard between Billy Joe Saunders and Marcelo Coceres, an Argentine who has yet to box at 168 pounds, yet to box outside his homeland, and whose last fight was a decision victory over an opponent with a 7-5-5 record. (Oh, and he was also unranked before this fight was made.)
As a world title fight, this is worse than Saunders’ title-winning fight against Shefat Isufi in May and makes no attempt to argue the case for not festering on the undercard of a six-rounder between YouTubers. (Frankly, it’s where it belongs.)
We hope Coceres makes a fight of it, and maybe he will, but for now one can’t help wondering what sort of career record KSI and Logan Paul could accumulate boxing in Argentina.
5. You are being paid to watch it
The good news: the majority of the sport-watching population have a choice. They will either consider this fight between YouTubers worthy of their hard-earned or they will consider it a deplorable money-making scheme of which they want no part. For them, there is no need to complain. Either they will watch it, or they won’t.
For others, though, the decision is tougher. An unlucky few are being paid to report on it and watch it, while the really unlucky ones are currently in Los Angeles trying to keep a straight face and talk to two YouTubers as if they are real professional boxers and this is a real professional fight. They have left their integrity at the terminal, flushed their souls down the Tube, and are using the KSI and Logan Paul brands in much the same way the YouTubers are using boxing.
Hollowed out, shells of their former selves, their mouths move like ventriloquists’ puppets and their eyes are glazed, looking not at the ‘fighters’ in front of them but into the abyss, wondering how it came to this, hoping nobody notices. (Perhaps that’s why Sky Sports, who have put KSI vs. Paul on Box Office for a knockdown price of £9.95, have moved heaven and earth to secure fights like Kovalev vs. Alvarez and Inoue vs. Donaire at late notice – an apology for their transgression.)