By Dominic Hadi – @domhadi (Instagram & Twitter)
On September 15th 2018 we saw two of the greatest boxers of our generation put it all on the line in the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. They both pushed the pace, took incredible shots and after a controversial draw in their first bout, were desperate to get the nod and show they are the best. This time there was a winner (albeit writhed with controversy once again) with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez taking the majority decision over Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin in what was voted “fight of the year 2018” by the coveted Ring Magazine as well as pulling in an estimated 1.1 million PPV buys.
Three weeks before that however, there was another controversial draw in boxing. This time in the UK in front of a sold-out 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena. Internet celebrities KSI and Logan Paul fought in what was the promoted “The Biggest White Collar Boxing Match Ever” for 6 rounds to a Majority Draw.
Having been a part of both of White Collar events as a fighter, promoter and a spectator, usually if there is a draw between two of the fighters, the fighters shake hands, say congrats and enjoy the journey that has been in the short amount of time they trained. Then again, none of the events I have been apart of has generated 1.05 million PPV buys.
It must be stated that the price difference in PPV cost between Canelo/GGG 2 ($69.95) and KSI/Paul 1 ($10) is massive- as were the prices of the tickets to view the events live, but you cannot deny the numbers. That two of the best fighters on the planet pulled 500,000 more buys than two people that are famous from YouTube (and previously Vine) who have white-collar experience in the sport is just incredible. Not to mention the ‘MayPac’ Esque promotional tour the two social media influencers participated in months before the bout took place (where the LA conference was hosted by fan favourite boxer Shannon ‘Cannon’ Briggs)
While the fight was still at the level of two white collar competitors, you cannot deny the authenticity of two people who really wanted to win that night. That resonated with the fans of the two, who were desperate for the rematch to take place. And while there were rumblings periodically, nothing was booked. Skip forward a little over 12 months and out of the blue we find out the rematch has been booked. KSI vs Logan Paul 2, November 9th 2019, Staples Center LA- as a professional bout.
As many know in the boxing game you cannot just get a pro license without a track record of an amateur career and with only 3 ‘White Collar’ Bouts between the two men this definitely does not class them as professionally ready so they definitely would’ve required some help. In steps Eddie Hearn.
The promoter that fans love to hate has secured this sure to be massive rematch under the Matchroom USA banner: streaming it live on DAZN. With rumours circulating of an undercard that will consist of hot prospect Devin Haney as well the newest Matchroom signing, WBO Super-Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, this could be one of Matchroom’s biggest cards of 2019.
Many of the boxing brass have thrown negativity to Hearn in regards to working with the YouTubers to gain professional licenses and potentially putting world champions as the under-card, but this isn’t anything that is new to Hearn. He declared following this fight announcement that he will be bringing a whole new base of boxing fans to the game as YouTube supporters cast eyes on the likes of Saunders and Haney. That is something you cannot deny is likely to happen with KSI and Logan Paul currently holding a combined YouTube subscriber count of 40 million respectively; as well as the proven track record of selling a fight,. Who’s to say this doesn’t give every fighter on the card a chance to become somebody’s new favourite fighter and gain a new following?
While Hearn’s methods are not conventional, to evolve and elevate you cannot stick to the status quo and while people are infuriated by the decision we will not truly know until the fights are done, the curtain comes down and we see what comes of this controversial re-match.