A SINGLE Instagram comment kickstarted the 'YouTube boxing' phenomenon – which only four years later saw Logan Paul fight Floyd Mayweather.
Logan, and now his brother Jake, have quickly become two of the most polarising and disputed figures in boxing.
But they can gives thanks to British pair KSI and Joe Weller, two former friends who raised eyebrows by organising a white collar fight in 2018.
Their manager Liam Chivers, who has seen the rise from start to present, said: "KSI and Joe Weller created it.
"Lets face it, because with their fans they’ve taken them along in the journey.
"They’ve created this platform for the others to jump on the back of it. We pretty much set the Paul brothers up on a plate with the KSI fights.”
But before KSI and Logan boxed as professionals with world champions on their undercard, it all began with one throwaway comment.
Of course, it was made online, when Weller announced he would spar his pal Theo Baker for a YouTube video.
KSI, real name Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji, commented: "Lemme fight the winner haha."
That turned out to be Weller and the two then sold out the Copper Box Arena with the bout being viewed almost 21MILLION times since.
KSI won and then called out American star Logan afterwards and the two fought to a draw after six rounds in 2018 in Manchester, selling 1million pay-per-views.
But according to Chivers, the game changed soon after.
Anthony Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn turned them pro, and had the fight on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN internationally.
Chivers said: “The key was definitely taking it off YouTube on to a major platform, in this case DAZN. It took me a year of negotiations to make that happen.
“Because this whole thing revolves around KSI, and his audience and everyone else was just the B-side.
“So him establishing this as an actual phenomenon, it was all about, ‘So what’s next for him?’ Always knocking that mainstream barrier down."
KSI, 28, won by split-decision but has been unable to fight since due to a fledging music career which has seen him top charts and headline festivals.
But Logan, 26, returned this June in an unthinkable exhibition with Mayweather, 44, which ended without a winner after no knockout was scored.
His little brother Jake, 24, is now 4-0 and recently beat ex-UFC champion Tyron Woodley, 39, which US powerhouse Showtime aired.
Jake has claimed he is earning up to $10m for his fights, while Mayweather boasted of banking $100m after sharing the ring with Logan.
But the new age of content creators are still continuing to step foot in the ring away from the traditional boxing promoters and networks.
Only in June did Chivers have two of his stable – KSI's brother 'Deji' and 'AnEsonGib' – fight on the 'Social Gloves' platform.
It saw YouTubers and TikTokers fight off against each other.
And despite a breakthrough within the mainstream boxing market, Chivers admitted social media stars are capable of doing things their own way if needed.
He said: “These guys are their own promoters ultimately, their own YouTube channels, their own social media.
“It doesn’t necessarily matter, as long as there’s a safety aspect covered. Everyone knows what they’re signing up for.
“Even the professionalism of the event, when we did the KSI fight with Joe Weller, it was all very professional, proper rules, proper controls.”
A large section of boxing fans would prefer to see novice fighters with a huge online platform stay as far away from the pro sport as possible.
But others within the business, whether it be boxers or promoters, welcome the fresh fanbase as ultimately it brings in more revenue.
Promoter Kalle Sauerland told SunSport: “I think that it’s great to ultimately have novices, which they are, and that attracts attention to our sport.
“And, if that’s done correctly and done in a professional manner, I have nothing against it unless it starts to become too much WWE.”
Londoner Gib has done both, twice fighting on KSI's undercard before turning pro in January 2020 in a defeat to Jake.
But he returned on Social Gloves to beat TikToker Tayler Holder in America, which was overseen by the Florida State Boxing Commission – but NOT a pro bout.
The biggest difference between his fight against Jake and Holder was the gloves sizes and length of rounds.
Meaning, fighting under pro rules or in a exhibition-style bout makes little difference, barring how it is viewed.
Chivers explained: “It doesn’t really matter to us. There’s a lot of networks or broadcasters involved here, the DAZN’s, Showtime with Jake, Triller.
“Gib has his pro license, if it’s a pro event he’d probably prefer that.
"But it will come down to how big the spectacle can be, how much he’s getting paid, obviously and who his opponent is."
The Paul brothers show no sign of ending their run in the sport any time soon, while more and more entertainment figures are flirting with the idea of fighting.
KSI still plans to settle the score with Jake, and his friend Gib has showcased improved skills and wants to continue on in the sport.
And while they can all deliver PPV numbers – like the 1m Mayweather and Logan produced – sell tickets and introduce fans into the sport, this trend will stay.
But if the interest suddenly stops, it remains to be seen if era of YouTube boxing can be sustainable or goes down as just a fad.
Source: Read Full Article