Just over four years ago, in February 2018 at the Copper Box Arena, the term “YouTube boxing” first came about as KSI battled Joe Weller in a social media grudge match.
KSI had his hand raised at the end of what was expected to be a one-off event.
Fast forward to today though, and YouTube stars have transcended their spheres to make a wider impact in the boxing world.
KSI (Olajide Olatunji) went on to face Logan Paul twice. The first was ruled a draw, with the second being a professional bout promoted by Eddie Hearn at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The British YouTuber won via split decision against Paul on November 9, 2019.
He initially wanted to fight Logan’s brother – Jake Paul. The latter instead took a different route, picking up wins over fellow YouTubers Deji (KSI’s brother) and AnEsonGib.
KSI has not fought since the end of 2019, while Paul has been in the ring more regularly.
His level of opponents have gradually stepped up, and he has picked up highlight-reel knockouts over Nate Robinson (ex-NBA star) plus former UFC fighters Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley.
Paul has been managed expertly. While his wins have come against some opponents with a legitimate background in combat, they are not boxers by any means.
The brash 25-year-old has caused a stir over the past few years. He has especially been a thorn in Dana White’s side, calling out the UFC chief for his unfair treatment of fighters.
While you may not like Paul – you won’t be on your own there – he has made a lot of valid points when it comes to faults with the UFC.
He has also poured his heart and soul into boxing, with the sport now being his prime focus. That is shown with his work heading up Most Valuable Promotions.
It is this start-up company that has brought him close to four-weight world champion Amanda Serrano.
While she is recognized as a great of women’s boxing in the eyes of purists, she has spent most of her career away from the spotlight.
Paul worked wonders to build her up to the point where she was able to negotiate her career-best purse in headlining at Madison Square Garden in a defeat to Katie Taylor earlier this year.
There is no disputing that, on the whole, Paul’s presence has benefitted boxing. Especially with him bringing more eyes to the sport and helping with the growth of women’s boxing.
Over the past couple of years, Paul has replaced KSI as the figurehead of YouTube boxing.
The Sidemen member in the meanwhile has focused on his music career, with his 2021 album ‘All Over the Place’ landing at number one in the UK.
With him successfully establishing himself as a musician, KSI is now ready to return to boxing.
The seeds of his return were planted in June 2021 when he joined Wasserman Promotions to launch a new promotional company named ‘Misfits Boxing’.
It has now been confirmed that his first fight back will be on August 27. This is rumored to be at Manchester’s AO Arena versus American YouTuber Alex Wassabi – who is coming off a win over KSI’s brother Deji.
August is primed to be a wild month in the YouTube boxing world. Jake’s return after an eight-month layoff has been announced for August 6 at Madison Square Garden.
He will fight Tyson Fury’s brother and ex-Love Island star – Tommy Fury – in a bout that was originally scheduled for last year.
This stands as his toughest test to date, as it will be the first time a YouTuber has fought a genuine professional boxer. Albeit one in Fury who is still a relative novice who has failed to drum up much enthusiasm from his eight victories as a pro.
Just before these two bouts, AnEsonGib returns on July 30 as he travels across the pond to step in with Austin McBroom at the Crypto Arena in Los Angeles.
There is also talk of Logan Paul having a comeback at some point this summer, though an opponent is yet to be confirmed.
As you will all surely know, his last outing came in an exhibition against Floyd Mayweather Jr, in what was 2021’s strangest matchup.
Paul – to the surprise of many – actually held his own for large portions of the contest, to the embarrassment of the money-hungry Mayweather.
There is a lot going on in the YouTube scene, with it heading towards another boom period.
Jake Paul and KSI are at the fore of this excitement. The latter has always maintained – even during his boxing sabbatical – that a fight with Paul is the one he wants.
It finally seems like that is the fight we are building towards for next summer. KSI would be wise to fight a couple of times before facing Paul, and that looks to be his plan.
Paul vs KSI feels like the natural finale of the YouTube boxing era. As crazy as it may sound, this is one of the sport’s biggest fights to make in terms of finances.
No doubt endless promoters will be clamoring to have that fight on their platform, particularly after how Sky Sports benefitted from promoting the KSI-Logan Paul rematch.
Social media stars continue to be among the biggest draws in boxing and that does not look like it will alter anytime soon.
So – through gritted teeth – purists will have to prepare themselves for what will be a barrage of YouTuber fights in the coming months, starting with a hectic stretch around August.