I DIDN’T watch it live, but I watched it. I even paid for it. The KSI-Logan Paul contest was pretty much as I expected; two novices windmilling with the odd punch landing on target. It didn’t offend me. I must admit the commentary from a selection of excitable YouTubers grated, but then I was not the target audience; I understood that, and Sky Sports understood that.
I felt some admiration for the efforts of KSI and Logan Paul. Anyone with even minimal experience in boxing will know how hard it is for newcomers to spar for three minutes let alone try and fight for 18. The high purses were something of an insult to boxers who have spent their lives plying their trade, but the two debutants – exhibiting what a fanbase of millions can provide – had clearly put the hours in. In a perverse compliment to the real sport, this fight highlighted how exceptionally difficult it is to achieve even minimal competency in boxing, let alone become good at it.
However, if anyone tries to tell me that their fight seduced a new generation of boxing fans, I’d argue against them. In the same way that watching two YouTubers rant and rave and then attempt to box won’t make a boxing fan subscribe to either of their YouTube channels, YouTube fans watching them attempt to box are unlikely to seek out boxing, real boxing, as a means of entertainment in the future.
The undercard, designed to show all in attendance how the sport should be done, was poor yet it’s hard to blame real boxers, talented boxers like Billy Joe Saunders and Devin Haney, for being below par. They had been taken out of their natural habitat and asked to perform in a completely alien environment against opponents they’d never heard of. The juxtaposition of real boxing and showbiz boxing just didn’t work. The lines were too blurred.
At a push you could imagine KSI and Logan Paul being invited to a Premier League football fixture to engage in a penalty shootout at half-time, but never in a million years would they be invited to participate in an actual game.
This kind of boxing should stay off the professional circuit and not in any way be confused with, or mix with, real boxing. I’m not calling for it to stop, I am not so blinkered that I don’t see the commercial value, but there is no need to take their headguards off and tell them they’re real fighters.
As a one-fight only deal it would be easier to stomach but in the immediate aftermath there was talk of another fight. And within days, Tommy Fury, a 20-year-old with some experience on the reality show circuit, called out KSI. Young boxers who once dreamed of being world champions are instead focusing on ‘celebrity boxing’, or whatever you want to call it, as the way forward. What a shame if this becomes the norm.
This gruesome offspring, garish and loud but with little talent on show, should not masquerade as the real thing again.
- WOW. What a joy the Nayoa Inoue-Nonito Donaire fight was. Anyone who wants to criticise Sky Sports for showing KSI-Logan Paul should remember they have also given us Inoue-Donaire, Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev and Errol Spence Jnr-Shawn Porter in recent months with Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz II and Andy Ruiz Jnr-Anthony Joshua II to come. With BT Sport also making significant strides in 2019 there’s a lot to be optimistic about as the new year approaches.
- IT’S a great pleasure to welcome Steve Bunce as a new weekly columnist to the pages of Boxing News. Each week Bunce, one of the world’s most respected boxing journalists, will be talking us through his experiences in the fight game in Bunce’s Diary.
- ALL at Boxing News would like to wish Nicola Adams well in her retirement. A glowing ambassador for the female code, Adams and her talents will be remembered fondly.