The year was 2002 and FOX, possibly inspired by the hobo fights that had recently entered the zeitgeist, dreamed up a brand new way of keeping up the assault on human dignity while making a lot more money out of it. The result was Celebrity Boxing, a program ranked by TV Guide as the 6th worst television show in history.
Maybe due to the lack of that program’s success, however, for the most part novelty celebrity combat has largely remained only in the imagination. (Justin Bieber vs. Tom Cruise, anyone?) One noteworthy exception: the “The Biggest White Collar Boxing Match Ever,” between rapper Olajide Olatuji, better known as “KSI” and YouTube viral video star Logan Paul—now gearing up for its second installment on November 9th at The Staples Center.
So, what’s worse? Witnessing former Olympian Olga Korbut (who had recently been arrested for shoplifting $19 worth of groceries) humiliate herself for a small sum of money on Celebrity Boxing, or watching social media stars in a PPV rematch for the “YouTube Boxing Championship” as they earn several million dollars? It’s a hard call, with both events depressing in their own special way.
YouTube personality Logan Paul might seem miles away from the kind of desperation that drove Korbut to fight for money. However, during a July 22nd interview on Fox Business with Liz Claman a rambling Paul hinted that financial troubles may be looming, “My expenses just surpassed my income for the first time ever. I’m definitely going down hill from here. I think it’s the beginning of the end.” While KSI has not professed any money issues, much like Paul he has been caught up in negative publicity and could use some good news in the press—and who doesn’t want a few million extra dollars?
Their first fight, held August 28, 2018 in Manchester, England, was a massive financial success—with total revenue estimated at 187 million dollars. It was promoted as the “The Biggest Event in Internet History” and while speculation posited that Paul and KSI each walked away with 30 to 40 million, they apparently had to cover all overhead expenses and their takeaway was probably closer to 4 million each. Still, not a bad payday for anybody, let alone a guy who is at “the beginning of the end.” It is no wonder, then, that Paul is preparing for his second bout with fellow influencer KSI.
Initially, the plan was for a second fight in the US to quickly follow the first, but multiple delays have pushed the fight back more than a year. Now, however, promotion is in full swing—with predictably outlandish trash talking. And it appears to be working, as the press conference attracted 300,000 viewers.
Prior to the first fight, KSI mocked Paul’s girlfriend. This time around, he has upped the ante by targeting Paul’s Pomeranian who was killed by a coyote. Paul, meanwhile, has focused on allegations of domestic abuse against KSI, specifically that KSI hit his mother on Christmas and was “kicked out of the house.” The accusations against KSI were levied by his own brother, Deji, another social media star and YouTube boxer who goes by the name ComedyShortsGamer.
It all reads like a bad Conor McGregor parody account, and it probably goes without saying that Paul has called out the Irishman, hoping to fight McGregor after defeating KSI. Logan Paul, himself, was a decent high school wrestler—so he made sure to clarify he wanted an MMA bout with McGregor, not boxing.
Although the first fight was a draw, KSI has stated his goal is to become a professional boxer full stop, and it’s hard not to feel that he has the edge over Paul. He came into the first match already wearing the YouTube Championship Boxing Belt, thanks to his first round TKO over Joe Weller. However, Paul does have a 4” reach advantage over his opponent.
If you are interested in witnessing this spectacle, tickets range from $41.40 to $517. DAZN will livestream the event.