40 Million. That is the combined following of both KSI, real name Olajide Olatunji, and Logan Paul. When in comparison to Floyd Mayweather Jr who stands at 22 million followers on Instagram, it shows just how big of a following these two novices have online.
However, this fight won’t be fought behind computer screens, or in a series of ‘diss tracks’ as is the norm on YouTube. These two mid-twenties men will meet in the middle of a ring, with gloves laced and no headguards. It is the purest form of combat.
So just how did the purest of combats arrive at such a carnival? Crossover fights have been at a high since former UFC featherweight and lightweight king Conor McGregor fought to a 10th round TKO loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. The whole fight was a circus from the get-go, with the peak of the highlights being Floyd showering McGregor in dollar bills at a press conference. Floyd also fought kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition on New Year's Eve last year. Even after this fight, crossover fights have been rumored with UFC megastar Jorge Masvidal calling out Canelo Alvarez after the Mexicans dismantling of Sergey Kovalev last Saturday night and the likes of Tyson Fury heading over to WWE, wrestling Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia.
But the issue with this fight is the fact that unlike previous contests, such as the May-Mac fight, this features two men with next to no experience in the field of combat. KSI made his name making FIFA videos alongside his six friends, forming the group known as the Sidemen. He has next to no athletic background. This is where Logan has an advantage. Logan was a high school wrestler who twice qualified for the Ohio state finals, finishing fifth in his final match. He was also a linebacker in American football for his high school. Sure, these sports don't combat, but they do help with attributes that can be carried over to the combat world, they show determination, toughness, and history of the sport.
Whereas, KSI is a natural showman. He has also boxed for longer than his American counterpart. His first boxing match came against fellow Youtuber Joe Weller, in a similarly ludicrous matchup in February 2018. He was the one who initiated this contest, uttering the infamous line of “Jake Paul, Logan Paul, any of the Paul's, I don’t care”. This fumbled line showed what KSI is all about, he is naturally charismatic, he wanted all the eyes of the world to fall into two of the biggest YouTubers, on the biggest stage. He got his wish once, and this time his eyes will be firmly focused on grabbing the win that will cement him as the king of YouTube.
Surprisingly, the first contest between the pair wasn’t half bad, for two multi-millionaires with scarce boxing experience. Both men were unfit and wildly swung fists for six rounds, but for two men who weren’t ready, it was mildly entertaining stuff. At the end of the contest, the fight was ruled a draw which allowed eyes to immediately turn towards a money-spinning rematch. Such money-spinning is the rematch that Eddie Hearn, promoter of top fighters such as Anthony Joshua, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, who will feature as the co-main event to the YouTube sensations, has made a U-turn on the contest. Eddie was against the first encounter between the YouTube pairing back in August 2018. Hearn refused to acknowledge the contest but, after seeing the numbers the pair pulled in, decided he would organize the rematch this time. The rematch will take place under the professional boxing banner, the first fight was a white-collar event.
Both KSI and Logan Paul do have professional boxing talent training them. In the Paul corner is former Heavyweight champion Shannon ’The Cannon’ Briggs. Briggs is a veteran of the game with a record of 60-6-1 with 53 knockouts. Briggs was a good world level talent in his day, but his day has passed him by. His most notable thing of this decade has been following former unified Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko around whilst spouting his catchphrase ‘Let's Go Champ’ at every turn.
In the corner of the Englishman is Viddal Riley. Riley is a newly turned professional boxer who sits 3-0 KO2. Riley does actually seem to have his head screwed on and signed with Mayweather promotions last year after an extensive amateur career. Viddal also owns his own YouTube channel and has found a lot of exposure since his linkup with the YouTube star KSI. Both Briggs and Riley have been in verbal barbs in the build-up to this fight, with Riley even going as far as to release a T-Shirt aimed at Briggs, labeling him irrelevant.
There is no doubting the interest in the event. The first bout at the Manchester Arena sold out within two days and the PPV on YouTube drew over 2.25 million views. Boxing is a numbers business, if you can draw a crowd you will be promoted heavily, and this is the case with this fight. Neither man will go in there and put on a boxing masterclass, we’re likely to receive a fight much like you’d see outside your local pub on a Friday night, but fans will buy the fight and flock into the Staples Centre to see two online sensations lace-up and throw down.
Nothing but the best to both men, who despite ridiculous statements such as Logan proclaiming, he aims to become Heavyweight champion, have dedicated themselves to training and have put the work in to better themselves as athletes and to try to put on a show as the eyes of the world zone in on them.