2020 was an odd year for sports fans, to say the least, but 2021 may be about to get a little weirder. We’ve seen supporters locked out of stadiums across the world with many football fans purchasing virtual season tickets. Horse racing goes ahead behind closed doors and the entire UK boxing schedule was postponed during January.
Another strange but true story broke in the sporting press recently and it’s up there with the most surprising things we have read. Floyd Mayweather is about to break his retirement again and make a shock return to the ring. Could it be a rematch with the all-conquering Saul Alvarez or perhaps to settle an old score with Manny Pacquiao?
Not even close. TBE is rumoured to be close to agreeing to a deal that will see him share a ring with YouTube sensation Logan Paul. If you’re a follower of the noble art your first response may be, who? You’d be right to ask that question too. But it appears to be happening and bookies featured at Online Sports Betting are offering odds on the outcome.
What’s the story?
OK, so what’s the story? Who is boxer Logan Paul and why is he about to face-off against one of the greatest names to ever grace the sport? Let’s start by explaining exactly who Paul is, where he has come from and his boxing background. Also why he wants a crack at Pretty Boy Mayweather.
Boxing fans, especially those of a certain age, would be forgiven for not knowing much about the fighting career of Logan Paul. That’s because he hasn’t had much of a career. One amateur fight and one professional bout make up his CV and he won neither.
Logan is a 24-year-old from Cleveland described on his wiki page as an American YouTuber, actor, social media influencer, entrepreneur, podcast host and, of course, boxer. His net worth is posted at $20 million and that figure continues to skyrocket.
His comedy vlogs on YouTube have proven to be extremely popular, thrusting him into the public eye and bringing the Ohio resident incredible wealth. He is one of the most influential figures of his generation.
Why’s he in a boxing ring?
Ever heard of YouTube boxing? Don’t worry if you haven’t, we’ll quickly bring you up to speed on that one. Two years ago it was announced Paul would settle his differences with a YouTube rival from the UK named KSI, real name Olajide William Olatunji.
The pair’s first encounter in a boxing ring was fought out under amateur boxing rules and ended in a split decision draw. Two judges scored the bout an even 57-57 with the other giving it to KSI 58-57. It certainly wasn’t the best example of technical boxing you’ll ever see but it did create a storm online with millions following the live stream. The YouTube boxing craze was born that night.
Still eager to test themselves, both Paul and KSI made the surprise move to sign deals as professional boxers before putting pen to paper on the rematch. Under pro boxing rules, this was now seen as a real contest and a way for the men to settle their differences. Why did professional boxing officials hand two novice fighters a pro deal? Perhaps it had something to do with the staggering sums of cash the bout made in pay-per-view buys.
In the rematch, Logan lost to KSI at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on 9 November 2019 by a split points decision. Two judges gave the fight to KSI by margins of one round and three rounds after the six-round contest. Paul got the decision of the other judge by a round.
Again, it wasn’t a bout for the boxing purists, but it was a good honest scrap involving two fighters who came to win, had prepared properly, and gave their all. That can’t be said of every professional boxing match we see these days. The millions watching around the world lapped it up as KSI was knocked down in round four but Logan was deducted two points for hitting the Brit while he was on the deck.
Surprisingly, this bout was part of a massive night of boxing which included a world title fight. England’s Billy Joe Saunders successfully defended his WBO super-middleweight world title with an 11th round stoppage win over Argentina’s Marcelo Esteban Coceres. BJS wasn’t exactly complimentary of the YouTubers in his post-match interviews. Other names on the programme included Ronny Rios, Hugo Berrio, Diego Pachecco and Aaron Casper.
Did boxing provide a platform for YouTube stars that night or did YouTubers bring millions of extra fans to boxing? Judging by the viewing figures and PPV buys, the latter is probably more accurate.
Why is Mayweather getting involved?
Cash, presumably. They don’t call him Money Mayweather for nothing and there won’t be an easier way for a man of Floyd’s talents to earn millions of dollars. Move around with a man who has fought only one professional boxing match before. But, hey, that’s one more than Conor McGregor had when he fought the star who won 15 world titles.
The bout against Logan has been agreed, according to both fighters, but the date of February 2021 had to be pushed back due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’s believed organisers want to ensure they can sell tickets to a capacity stadium as well as providing a live streaming service on a PPV platform.
Critics of the bout – and there are more than a few – suggest the fight was shelved due to a lack of interest from the public. Paul scoffed at that suggestion, telling fans the sales for online viewers had already smashed all records for combat sports. Due to the profile and popularity of the YouTube star that’s a likely scenario.
The crazy thing is – and this will leave boxing fans feeling bemused – a lot of those who pay to watch Mayweather vs Paul would have never heard of the sport’s Hall of Famer. Getting his skills noticed by a new audience? Floyd will be game for that.